Friday, May 27, 2016

Down the Hole: Disney's New 'Alice' To Disappoint on Opening Weekend?

Perhaps this sequel should've come out three years ago...

Tim Burton's live-action take on the iconic Lewis Carroll classics, Alice in Wonderland, took movie theaters by storm in 2010. That's actually kind of an understatement... Spring 2010. Avatar had become the world's highest grossing film, and one that made full use of 3D, creating an immersive experience that audiences couldn't get enough of.


Alice in Wonderland was the next big 3D event. Coming off of Avatar, this was a must-see... It already was from the start, actually. Disney's marketing campaign for the film kicked off in late summer 2009, and from those trailers, you just had to go and see it. It was one of those movies, and it hit the perfect storm. Alice in Wonderland was expected to open with maybe $70 million tops, it took in an unprecedented $116 million and collected $1 billion, shocking everyone. It was the first non-Cameron to achieve that since The Dark Knight, but 3D certainly helped get it there. The picture, however, wasn't quite well-received...

Naturally, Disney commissioned more "new takes" on stories they adapted into their iconic animated classics. The next was Maleficent in 2014, and that took in over $700 million worldwide. Cinderella grossed over $500 million, and The Jungle Book is perhaps circling the big billion. Over 15 more are on the docket at the studio. Disney also scored a good-sized hit with Oz the Great and Powerful, being a new take on a classic (though Disney did adapt the books, in 1985 with the commercially unsuccessful live-action feature Return to Oz) that everyone grew up with.

At first, I wasn't sure about Alice Through the Looking Glass. One thing, it's late, it's late... Six years too late. Number two, I always got the sense that Alice was a fad movie that everyone raced to go see back in the day but then moved on from. I certainly had little desire to watch it again, it was just a "kinda there" kinda movie... I had predicted about $75 million for the 3-day opening, but now the word is...

It might have a hard time making $50 million for the 4-day opening.


I guess I'm biased. At the theater I work at, 85% or so of the patrons who walked by the Alice poster we had in the hallways would say "A new Alice? We gotta see that!" There were tracking reports from earlier in the month that suggested it could outdo X-Men: Apocalypse, even! I was shocked, but reports ended up getting middling.

I still think it'll be a success for Disney, because the worldwide box office might be charitable. Alice took in $691 million overseas alone, will a good chunk of those audiences be back? The film cost $170 million to make, so logically it should make roughly $425 million worldwide in order to at least break even. I think it could do just that, but stranger things have happened before. If it does lose money, I wonder what it will mean for the live-action remakes. I mean, one loss is just one loss, they'll take it in stride, but what will happen when we see, say... 5 more lose money?

Honestly, I can see why the lower opening is in play. From the ads (and I've been seeing the ads for it nonstop at work for months and months), it just looks garish and boring. Even in stills, the visual panache makes my head hurt a bit. Not that the first one was much better, visually, but this one is basically noise. Reviews aren't strong either. It should pass $100 million domestically, but that's nothing to write home about. Had this been made three years ago, perhaps it could've done decent business?

Disney will indeed be upset, but not too upset. Civil War crossed $1 billion worldwide, Zootopia is $16 million away from that mark, The Jungle Book looks to circle it. Finding Dory should easily make $1 billion, so it's one dent in the armor... Now to see how The BFG and Pete's Dragon will do, I'm not confident in the former, wishy-washy on the latter. That being said, Disney has an epic autumn/holiday season ahead of them: Doctor Strange, Moana, and Rogue One...

Though I will be brutally honest here, I wasn't too phased with this film coming out. At least Burton's film strayed as far from the Disney animated classic as possible, ditto this, I can't say the same about these other re-imaginings. I haven't bothered with the Beauty and the Beast trailer - which broke the record for YouTube trailer views in a single day, 91 million (!!) - yet, but I hear from those who saw it that the film will probably be a shot-for-shot remake of the 1991 animated classic, or feel way too much like it at best.

That will always be my main criticism of this movement: Don't remake the Disney take, make a new take. (Yes, I just asked for too much. I get it.) This film's box office might just convince them to stick to the ol' bread and butter, to make the oncoming remakes as close to the animated films as possible.

How do you think Alice Through the Looking Glass will do?

1 comment:

  1. It'll do fine here, though obviously not as big as the original film.