SUNDAY CENTS: A very important date

Posted by · 11:43 am · March 7th, 2010

Alice in Wonderland*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

May I introduce the film with the 14th biggest debut of all time, “Alice in Wonderland.” It’s also the biggest March debut, biggest 3D debut and third biggest non-sequel debut of all time. If your goal was to ensure that Tim Burton continues to lazily adapt his gothic style to beloved material over and over again, job well done America.

Let’s just take a step back for a second. $116.3 million is the figure we’re looking at, which places it right between “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “The Matrix Reloaded.” Those are both huge sequels, released around Memorial Day and are expected to be in this kind of vicinity. No film has ever opened with $100 million outside of May, June, July or November before today but the combination of Burton, Johnny Depp and a bunch of characters made out of McDonalds happy meal toys proved too irresistible to ignore.

Somehow Burton has built an entire career out of franchises, remakes and studio product aimed at merchandise as much as artistry, yet still maintained auteur credibility and worldwide acclaim. Congratulations to him for that, but a little more “Edward Scissorhands” and a little less “Alice in Wonderland” would be nice.

“Brooklyn’s Finest” came in at number two with $13.5 mil, which is a lot more than I thought it was going to land. But then again, based on the title I thought it was a movie about the hot dog cart on Lorimer Street. I suppose if watching Johnny Depp prance around in tights isn’t your bag, then Wesley Snipes pumping a double barrel shotgun is the complete opposite end of the spectrum. This is two solid debuts in a row for Overture Films, who still have a ways to go before living down beginning their career with “Mad Money.”

It only took twelve weeks, but the stuffing was finally knocked out of “Avatar” and James Cameron’s sci-fi epic fell 44% to $7.7 million. That was still enough for another weekend in the top five and it’s now the first film to spend that many consecutive weeks in the top half of the chart since “Titanic.”

Good news for Oscar buffs. “Crazy Heart,” “The Blind Side,” “A Single Man” and “An Education” all improved their takes from last week, meaning that the nominations still count for something at the box office. Furthermore, “The Secret of Kells” had a sensational debut on one screen in New York, earning $40,175.

Also in limited release, “A Prophet” and “The Ghost Writer” earned phenomenal per screen averages as they slowly expand and depress the hell out of larger audiences. Not a moment too soon for the art houses, who sorely needed some good news.

I didn’t see anything this week, even as the list of titles I want to check out slowly piles up. Probably won’t get out today either since there’s a little program on television I think we’re all supposed to watch.

Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, March 5, 2010

→ 17 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

17 responses so far

  • 1 3-07-2010 at 12:10 pm

    Harmonica said...

    Agree with you on this one, Chad. I’m tired of seeing Tim Burton do the exact same routine in every film he does. The last time he offered something a little bit refreshing was in 2003, with Big Fish. Now all he does is screw up known material with his suffocating visual style.

    I am actually outraged Alice in Wonderland has done this much.

  • 2 3-07-2010 at 12:14 pm

    JJ said...

    :-( I’m sure to be in the minority. But I actually really dug it.

    Is it classic Burton? Absolutely not.

    But I wasn’t bored, I liked Mia, I loved Bonham Carter. And the visuals were wonderful.

    I dunno. Liked it. But am shocked by the $116.3 mill.

    For what it’s worth, I saw the movie in a packed theater of mostly teenagers who shrieked, clapped, yelled, screamed, & laughed their asses off throughout the movie. And when it was over … THUNDEROUS applause and “yeahhhhs”.

  • 3 3-07-2010 at 12:28 pm

    Brian said...

    “No film has ever opened with $100 million outside of May, July or November before today”

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened June 24.

  • 4 3-07-2010 at 12:37 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Caught that late Brian. Throw June in there too but the point remains.

  • 5 3-07-2010 at 12:41 pm

    seanflynn said...

    I agree that A Prophet and Ghost Writer are encouraging and gratifying grossers, but phenomenal is hyperbolic. Precious and Brokeback Mountain (initially) were phenomenal; these aren’t at that level.

    It is great to see a couple of serious adult oriented films open in the first quarter and find audiences.

  • 6 3-07-2010 at 12:41 pm

    Craig said...

    I think I’m gonna go ahead and skip this one. Sweeney Todd was good, but I’ve never liked Alice and Wonderland anyway and I hear it’s not that great.

  • 7 3-07-2010 at 12:44 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    It’s all relative. Precious and Brokeback had phenomenal debuts for Oscar campaigning films in the fall. A ordinary thriller with director pedigree and a foreign film opening in the spring have different standards and expectations.

  • 8 3-07-2010 at 12:55 pm

    Nel said...

    Just a query but is there any break down to the 2D vs 3D revenue Alice made? I haven’t seen it yet but even a bad Tim Burton movie has to be a good one in comparison to others imho.

  • 9 3-07-2010 at 1:13 pm

    Rob said...

    Incorrect, Nel. It wasn’t “Bad in comparison to Burton’s other works.” It was just bad.

  • 10 3-07-2010 at 1:53 pm

    Maxim said...

    I think it was obvious that Alice was going to be mega-huge and anyone who didn’t see that coming should re-think their bo credentials.
    It’s the perfect storm of meterial, star (in Depp) who isn’t the main star, style (at least in terms of advertising) and timing.

    Timing, as in the Avatar spillover effect, people. When ordinary people are actually discussing what the next 3D film will be you know the technology itself is attrecting attention. It helped Alice (just as the higher ticket prices helpes too) and it will help Clash of the Titans.

    It’s hard to know how long this will last though.

  • 11 3-07-2010 at 2:46 pm

    Kevin said...

    I can’t tell if Chad hates Burton or Cameron more now.

  • 12 3-07-2010 at 3:08 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    If I was forced at gunpoint to choose, I’d see Avatar over Alice. But Ed Wood is better than anything Cameron has ever done.

  • 13 3-07-2010 at 3:11 pm

    Kevin said...

    what about Sweeney Todd? That and Big Fish are my personal favorite Burton films

  • 14 3-07-2010 at 3:31 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Didn’t see Sweeney Todd and I hated everything about Big Fish.

  • 15 3-07-2010 at 3:33 pm

    Chase K. said...

    Burton’s post “Sleepy Hollow” work – and even that is a bit of middling horror whodunit – is really weak. “Sweeney” is the best of the bunch, but “Edward Scissorhands” and “Ed Wood” are truly the only Burton films that I love.

  • 16 3-07-2010 at 4:16 pm

    Al said...

    Alice was the height of bland misuse of character development that I wouldnt expect to see from Burton’s Planet of The Apes.

  • 17 3-07-2010 at 5:22 pm

    austin111 said...

    Many of the same critics who poured shite on Shutter Island, gave this one a PASS, lazy buggers. Only the whole of Ed Wood and parts of a few other Burton flix with Depp seem truly interesting (Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd) to me. Oh well.