On Friday, as "Alice in Wonderland" opened on 3-D screens across the country, the question seemed to be not if the film would become Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's most successful collaboration ever, but by how much. With opening weekend estimates in the $70-90 million range, "Alice" seemed set to far out-gross their previous record week, the $56.2 million earned by "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" in 2005.
Goodness, were we wrong. "Alice" smashed Burton and Depp's record — and a number of other ones — on its way to a $116.3 million opening. That's over $60 million more than "Chocolate Factory" made in its first weekend and only $90 million away from the earlier film's entire $205.5 million domestic total. What's more, the $116.3 million haul was good for the biggest 3-D release of all time and the largest March opening ever.
That's some serious growth from Burton and Depp's early big-screen partnerships. In 1990, "Edward Scissorhands" grossed just $6.3 million, though it eventually climbed to $56.4 million. "Ed Wood" tanked at the box office in 1994 with only $1.9 million in ticket sales. It wasn't until 1999 that the pair performed well over opening weekend, when "Sleepy Hollow" reeled in $30.1 million — a decent sum but one hardly in line with its hefty budget. Finally, in 2005, Depp and Burton notched their first #1 debut with "Chocolate Factory." Two years later, however, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" suffered a subpar $9.3 million opening. Yet the film went on to win a slew of Golden Globes and garner an Oscar nomination for Depp.
So how high can "Alice" climb? The film should have no problem hanging on to the top box office spot next weekend, when it faces off against Matt Damon's political action flick "Green Zone" and Robert Pattinson's romantic drama "Remember Me." The key will be to see how little its gross drops. "Avatar" dropped only 1.8 percent during its second weekend, whereas new releases usually fall 50 percent or more. A week later, "Alice" should expect little serious competition from Jennifer Aniston's "The Bounty Hunter" and the adaptation of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books. Its 3-D ticket prices should keep "Alice" hauling in buckets of cash until "Clash of Titans," another 3-D release, arrives in April.
Check out everything we've got on "Alice in Wonderland."
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