"Alice in Wonderland" stands very tall in theaters

Sun Mar 7, 2010 2:22pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Alice in Wonderland" held the golden key to box office receipts, smashing multiple records during its first weekend of worldwide, and easily surpassed the opening stand of all-time champ "Avatar" in North America, distributor Walt Disney Co said on Sunday.

Director Tim Burton's 3D update of the Lewis Carroll tale sold $210.3 million worth of tickets worldwide. Moviegoers in the United States and Canada contributed $116.3 million, the sixth-biggest opening weekend ever, according to research firm Box Office Mojo.

Disney said the better-than-expected North American bow set new records for a film released in both March and the first quarter, traditionally a quiet period for major films.

It is also the best performance by a non-sequel, and established new benchmarks for a 3D and Imax Corp big-screen title. Imax said its screens accounted for less than 2 percent of the total, but 10.5 percent of sales.

Moreover, it is Burton's best debut, surpassing the $68.5 million start for his 2001 remake of "Planet of the Apes."

Pundits had conservatively forecast an opening weekend above $75 million. The last movie to reach that level was "Avatar," which opened at $77 million in December on its way to world domination.

Disney officials declined to predict whether "Alice" would approach the lofty heights of "Avatar," now at $2.6 billion worldwide and counting.


"Alice" also opened in more than 40 foreign countries, earning $94 million and ending the 11-week reign of "Avatar." Top markets included Britain ($16.8 million), Italy ($13.9 million), Russia ($12.3 million), Australia ($9.2 million) and South Korea ($4.9 million). An equivalent comparison with "Avatar" was not immediately available, though James Cameron's hit opened to about twice as much in Russia and South Korea.   Continued...

<p>Actor Johnny Depp poses for photographers as he arrives for the Royal World Premiere of "Alice In Wonderland" at Leicester Square in London February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Jas Lehal</p>