3D Disney film launches at 3,728 locations

Disney is set for a very important date this weekend at the domestic box office with much-anticipated 3D film “Alice in Wonderland” launching at 3,728 locations.

Pic’s total domestic 3D count stands at 2,063 locations plus 180 Imax 3D engagements, making it the largest 3D bow ever.

Also opening is Overture’s second wide release in two weeks, cop actioner “Brooklyn’s Finest,” starring Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and Richard Gere, at 1,936.

Overseas, “Alice” is expected to dominate with some 40 territories opening day-and-date, repping approximately 60% of the international market.

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Avatar” could also continue to play a significant role overseas as “Alice” won’t open in this frame in key markets like China and Japan, both top territories for “Avatar.”

Disney has high hopes for the Tim Burton-directed film, which was caught in the recent maelstrom over the studio’s plan to shorten the 3D tentpole’s theatrical window.

Major exhibs abroad threatened to boycott the film after Disney revealed plans to shorten theatrical-to-DVD windows on two titles a year, beginning with “Alice.” The revised window would be shortened to just over 12 weeks of theatrical play, as opposed to the traditional 16 weeks.

When the dust settled, top U.K. exhibs agreed to screen the film.

The Mouse House said tracking for “Alice,” starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, is strong across all quadrants and should pique the curiosity of both families and young adults given the film’s 3D component. Studio said the 3D aspect is an integral part of the film and expects 3D revenue to boost “Alice’s” overall B.O. performance.

Previous record-holder for an opening at the most 3D engagements was “Avatar” at 2,023 3D locations, accounting for 59% of the film’s total domestic count of 3,452.

Exhibs and 3D suppliers are grappling with not enough 3D screens for the bonanza of upcoming 3D releases. “Alice” begins the barrage, followed by Paramount’s launch of “How to Train Your Dragon” on March 26 and Warner Bros.’ “Clash of the Titans,” bowing on April 2.

The frame’s other wide release, “Brooklyn’s Finest,” hopes to gain traction from filmgoers looking for something harder-edged this weekend. The R-rated pic is directed by Antoine Fuqua, and revolves around three corrupt NYPD police officers who wind up at the same deadly event. Pic’s exec producer John Langley created the reality series “Cops.” Fuqua’s “Training Day,” also co-starring Hawke, opened to $22.6 million at 2,712 locations in 2001.

Warner’s Kevin Smith buddy-comedy “Cop Out” debuted last weekend behind Paramount’s holdover “Shutter Island.” “Cop Out,” starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, debuted with $18.2 million for a cume of $22.1 million, while “Shutter” earned $22.7 million in its soph sesh with a gross of $80.9 million as of March 3.

Overture’s “The Crazies” enters its soph sesh after last weekend’s launch of $16.1 million. Horror-thriller remake, about small-town residents who go insane after being contaminated by a toxic water supply, has cumed $19.5 million.

At the specialty B.O., Fox Searchlight will hope to continue to benefit from a successful awards push for Oscar-nommed “Crazy Heart.” Searchlight is adding an additional 126 locations on Oscar weekend for a count of 1,274.

Last weekend, “Crazy Heart” earned $2.5 million, slipping 14% in its 11th frame, for a cume of $25.9 million.

Sony Pictures Classics also hopes for a post-Oscar boost with French film “A Prophet” as it enters its soph sesh, opening with $163,773 at nine locations.

Distrib’s other foreign-lingo contender, Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon,” has cumed a $1.5 million since its release on Dec. 30.

Oscar-nommed Irish toon “The Secret of Kells” will make its theatrical debut on one screen in New York.

With “Alice” making such a huge day-and-date opening overseas, holdovers will have to compete for remaining auds.

Disney estimates that about half of the overseas screens for “Alice” will be 3D equipped.

“Avatar” earned $39.8 million in its 11th frame at 6,626 screens in 70 markets. Overall totals for the 3D giant have reached $1.85 million as of March 2.

Fox will continue its rollout of “Crazy Heart” in key markets such as Brazil, France, Germany and Italy. “Crazy Heart” should reach $1 million overseas this weekend.

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