'Alice' takes in $116.3 mil domestically
'Brooklyn's Finest' steals second place with $13.5 million
Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" bowed wondrously during the weekend to top the domestic boxoffice with an estimated $116.3 million, as the book-based fantasy popped through the 3D looking glasses and into the history books.
Its opening was the biggest ever for a winter release, surpassing the $83.8 million debut by "Passion of the Christ" in February 2004. "Alice" found $210.3 million in worldwide coin in its extra-dimensional rabbit hole, thanks to simultaneous bows in 41 foreign territories.
Directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway, "Alice" was produced in a mix of motion-capture animation, live action and CGI for more than $200 million. Originally produced in 2D, the film was converted to 3D due to moviegoer enthusiasm for the format and industry interest in its premium-priced tickets.
Also this weekend, Overture Film's opened cop thriller "Brooklyn's Finest" in second place with $13.5 million, modestly exceeding pre-release expectations.
Warner Bros.' sophomore-session holdover "Cop Out" fell 50% from its opening tally to cop $9.1 million in fourth place, with cumulative boxoffice of $32.4 million. Overture's "The Crazies" dropped 56% to scare up $7 million in sixth, with 10-day cume totaling $27.4 million.
Fox's 3D phenom "Avatar" grossed $7.7 million in fifth place to push its record cume to $720.2 million.
Just outside the top 10, Warners leggy Sandra Bullock starrer "The Blind Side" reached $250.5 million with $1.3 million in its 16th weekend. Summit Entertainment's Iraq War thriller "The Hurt Locker" grossed $439,000 from 274 theaters to pump cume to $14.7 million.
Collectively, the top 10 grossers registered $182.5 million, or a whopping 87% more than top performers in the comparable frame last year, boxoffice tracker Rentrak said.
In a limited bow, GKIDS unspooled animated adventure "The Secret of Kells" -- a nominee in Oscar's feature animation category -- in a single New York location to fetch an impressive $40,715.
Among notable expansions, Summit Entertainment broadened Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" by 103 theaters for a total 143, as the Ewan McGregor starrer grossed $1.3 million. Representing $9,068 per venue, the full-blooded performance brought "Ghost" cume to $2.6 million.
Fox Searchlight's country music drama "Crazy Heart" -- which landed topliner Jeff Bridges in Oscar's best-actor category -- added 126 playdates for a total 1,274 and grossed $3.4 million. That represented a moderate $2,630 per engagement, as "Crazy" cume climbed to $29.6 million.
Sony Pictures Classics' foreign-language nominee "A Prophet" added 21 locations for a total 30 in grossing $264,978, or a pleasing $8,833 per site. The French thriller's cume reached $517,605.
Disney tightened the theatrical window for "Alice" to just 12 weeks -- to accelerate its hitting DVD before summer -- in a move that sparked brief controversy among some exhibitors but ultimately reflects the studio's high hopes for pic profits. Its magical bow gave Burton a new personal best, surpassing his $68.5 million opening with 2001's "Planet of the Apes."
The opening was the best ever by a non-sequel movie release. It also was the biggest debut by a 3D pic, blowing away the $77 million debut by "Avatar" in December.
"Alice" attracted broad support, with core family backing heavily fleshed out by Burton fans and other adult patrons. Support was evident among younger and older males and females.
"It's the quintessential four-quadrant movie," Disney distribution topper Chuck Viane said. "It's phenomenal."
Imax's 188 specialty venues contributed a company-record $11.9 million to the debut, or a mind-besting $63,197 per site.
"Momentum is clearly on the side of 3D," Imax Film Entertainment presidents Greg Foster said. "You have all the people who went to see 'Avatar' and loved it, and this was the next 3D movie. There is a 3D halo effect right now, and this movie builds on that."
Directed by Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day"), "Finest" stars Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and Wesley Snipes.
Its opening audiences skewed 52% female, with 60% of patrons aged 30 or older. African-American moviegoers offered a key base of support -- at 60% -- and 86% of audiences were comprised of non-Caucasian patrons.
"We always thought this weekend was an opportunity for smart counter-programming, and this opening proves that was the case," Overture exec vp distribution Kyle Davies said.
"Finest" was produced by Millennium Films and acquired by Overture for less than $3 million.
Looking ahead, the first post-Oscar frame brings four wide releases to theaters. Universal unspools Paul Greengrass' Iraq War thriller "Green Zone," Fox Searchlight bows Forest Whitaker starrer "Our Family Wedding," Paramount opens romantic comedy "She's Out of My League" and Summit sends out Robert Pattinson starrer "Remember Me."
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