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Rediff News  All News  » Movies » Johnny Depp to dethrone Avatar?

Johnny Depp to dethrone Avatar?

March 03, 2010 15:30 IST

Johnny Depp in Alice in WonderlandFinally, it looks like a film may dethrone Avatar, the number one film in worldwide markets for 11 straight weeks.

Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland could be the number one film not only in North America but also in foreign markets after its March 5 release. The much-awaited film, chronicling the imaginary adventures of a grown-up Alice, is a revisionist work on Lewis Carroll's most beloved classic, published about 145 years ago. 

In the new film, a 19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, joining her old friends and learning of her true destiny -- to stop the Red Queen's reign of terror.

Some critics are not pleased with the Burton film. Whether it has strong legs after a solid opening will be the big question.

Last weekend, Avatar grossed $36 million outside North America. In North America, the movie was at fourth spot on the box office charts grossing about $14 million. Worldwide, the juggernaut has grossed $2.56 billion with some steam left in it. It could end its run with about $2.75 billion.

The number one film of the week in North America, Shutter Island, will enter its third week with about $16 million. Alice should have no trouble overtaking it.

Most of the 400 Imax screens showing Avatar are making way for Alice. The Imax corporation said in a statement that it will open the film in 188 domestic IMAX in North America. It will also open in 53 IMAX theatres internationally this weekend, and ultimately will play in 82 international IMAX theatres for a total of 270 IMAX runs, which marks a record, the statement added.

Disney, the producer and distributor of Alice, has reportedly spent $200 million producing the film and about $100 million on marketing and publicity. To break even, it has to gross $600 million in theatres and DVD/Blu-ray and other ancillary sales. Disney is also marketing dozens of items inspired by the film and the Victorian era of its setting including jewellery collections, frocks, period tea sets and figurines.

Mia Wasikowska in Alice in WonderlandIn Burton's film, Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter is the Red Queen and Australian newcomer Mia Wasikowska (who is getting fabulous reviews) is Alice. Never mind how the film fares in the long run, Mia could well become a major star.

Depp and Burton are uniting again after Sweeney Todd, Ed Wood, Corpse Bride and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Of these, only Charlie did fabulous business earning about $450 million worldwide.

'The simple, brilliant conceit of a child finding a portal to another world, a world of his or her unbridled, if not entirely unhinged imagination, is so compelling several have lovingly lifted it,' critic and scholar James Verniere writes in the Boston Herald.

It will surely help the new film if it fetches a handful of strong reviews from major TV and print critics. But the early reviews are anything but encouraging.

Giving the film two stars out of four, the Associated Press critic Jake Coyle noted that while 'Burton has beefed up the original story... it feels less personal and more like the many action films about young, maturing heroes who must slay a giant villain.'

Though Burton's film boasts some excellent performances, the review added, 'as the caterpillar says to our heroine, it's merely 'almost Alice' and its effects are more distracting than spectacular.'

Timeout New York slammed the film in its opening line itself. 'Apologies to all of you who've been looking forward to Lewis Carroll getting the Tim Burton treatment,' it declared. 'For this loose amalga-daptation of both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Burton is in dispassionate, for-hire mode, which means he's more concerned with computer-generated eyesores than with the character, Alice Kingsley (Wasikowska), whose subconscious they're meant to represent.'

Alice in Wonderland will release on March 12 in India.

Arthur J Pais in New York