Disney’s 3D “Alice in Wonderland” went on a worldwide adventure with an estimated $210.3 million, including domestic earnings of $116.3 million at 3,728 playdates. The Tim Burton pic became the highest-grossing first-quarter opener and scored the all-time highest three-day, nonholiday bow for a nonsequel film in the U.S.
Overseas, “Alice” earned $94 million at 5,600 screens in some 40 territories, repping about 60% of the international market.
The 3D fantasy screened at 2,063 3D-equipped locations domestically with an additional 188 Imax locations, totalling approximately 65% of the film’s total domestic screens.
Playing second fiddle to “Alice” was the frame’s other wide release, Overture’s “Brooklyn’s Finest,” exceeding expectations with an estimated $13.5 million at 1,936 screens. Pic walks its beat just a week after the studio launched its horror remake “The Crazies,” which grossed $7 million at 2,479 engagements in its soph sesh.
Overture benefited from strategic counterprogramming, launching the R-rated “Brooklyn’s Finest” opposite the family-friendly “Alice.”
Tracking for “Finest” was strongest in urban areas, including New York, Philadelphia and Boston, with 86% of auds non-Caucasian and 60% over 30. Pic stars Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and Richard Gere as corrupt NYPD police officers.
Counterprogramming aside, studios had been braced for an “Alice”-dominated weekend; the frame saw a robust 64% uptick compared with the same weekend last year.
The much-anticipated 3D title had been under recent scrutiny over Disney’s announcement to shorten the film’s theatrical-to-DVD window from a traditional 16-week run to just over 12 weeks. The studio plans to implement the shorter run on two major tentpoles a year, starting with “Alice.”
Major overseas exhibs even went so far as to threaten a boycott of the film but eventually reached an agreement with the Mouse House.
Still, Disney didn’t lose any of its muchness.
“Alice” turned in a massive $41 million on Friday then saw an 8% uptick on Saturday with $44.3 million.
Pic marks Burton’s highest opener, easily surpassing his previous record-holder, “Planet of the Apes,” which opened with $68.5 million in 2001. “Alice,” toplining frequent Burton collaborator Johnny Depp, also beat the launch of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (which earned $56.1 million) as the duo’s previous top opening.
“Put Tim, Johnny and Mia (Wasikowska) together, shake it up, and you’ve got one magic potion,” Disney prexy of domestic distribution Chuck Viane said. “Those who saw the tracking and suggested it was higher than normal would have never put it near this.”
The film’s 3D component boosted the overall performance in a big way.
While Disney said total 3D figures were not yet available, Imax alone reported an estimated worldwide take of $14.9 million. Domestic earnings totaled $11.9 million, beating 20th Century Fox’s “Avatar” with $9.5 million for the exhib’s all-time highest opening.
Imax film division prexy-chairman Greg Foster credited “Avatar” as a main reason for 3D success, saying, “People went and saw ‘Avatar,’ had a fantastic experience and are coming back for more.”
“Alice” begins an onslaught of 3D product entering the market in the coming months, with Paramount’s toon “How to Train Your Dragon” set to launch March 26, followed by Warner Bros.’ “Clash of the Titans” on April 2. “Avatar” is still playing at 661 3D engagements out of a total 2,163.
Pic’s total screen count was down only 293 from last weekend, meaning many theaters opted to pull more recent titles in favor of “Avatar.” Entering its 12th frame, the film slipped 44% for an estimated weekend gross of $7.7 million. “Avatar” has cumed $720.2 million domestically.
Holdovers, including Paramount’s Martin Scorsese thriller “Shutter Island” and Warner’s buddy comedy “Cop Out,” dropped 41% and 50%, respectively. “Shutter Island” earned an estimated $13.3 million in its third frame for a cume of $95.8 million, while “Cop Out” in its soph sesh grossed $9.1 million, totaling $32.4 million.
At the specialty B.O., Gkids launched Oscar-nommed toon “The Secret of Kells” at the IFC Center in New York, where it earned an impressive $40,715 — the frame’s highest per-screen average. Launch marks the venue’s highest single-screen weekend gross.
The distrib plans a strategic launch of the Irish-themed toon in Boston and Philadelphia on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) and will expand wide April 9.
Fox Searchlight’s “Crazy Heart” continued its successful awards season push, grossing an estimated $3.6 million at 1,274 locations, down just 36% in its 12th frame. “Crazy Heart,” starring nominees Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal, has cumed $29.6 million.
Lionsgate’s pic nominee “Precious” saw a nice boost over the weekend, with an estimated gross of $200,000 for a cume of $47.4 million.
Sony Pictures Classics continues its steady rollout of foreign-lingo nominee “A Prophet” at 30 engagements, earning $264,978 for a per-screen average of $8,833. Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet” has cumed $517,605 in its soph sesh, while the distrib’s other Oscar hopeful, Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon,” in its 10th week, has earned a total $1.7 million.
As expected, “Alice” dominated the international B.O., with the U.K. ranking as the pic’s top territory. Several of the market’s largest exhibs, including Odeon and Vue, were among those threatening not to play the film.
In Blighty, “Alice” scored an estimated $16.8 million at 532 screens, of which 44% were 3D-equipped. Italy followed with $13.9 million at 533, repping the Mouse House’s all-time highest opening in that territory.
“Alice” is poised to launch in France on March 24 and in several key Asian markets, including China and Japan, in the coming weeks.
Top territories for the frame’s holdovers occurred mainly in the markets in which “Alice” hadn’t yet launched.
“Avatar” managed to hit notable highs in Japan, where it fell only 19% as the film’s top territory, earning an estimated $3.3 million at 486. Pic has cumed $148.7 million in that market. In China, “Avatar” grossed $2.1 million at 792 with a cume of $182.2 million — the film’s top overseas territory.
Despite losing more than 1,000 screens to “Alice,” Fox’s 3D phenom grossed an estimated $21.8 million at 5,622 screens in 68 territories, dropping 44% in its 12th frame. Pic’s international cume stands at $1.88 billion.
Paramount’s “Shutter Island” scored a weekend haul of $17 million overseas and claimed the No. 1 spot in France with $4 million in its soph sesh at 540 screens.