NEW YORK — Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s trip down the rabbit hole drew huge crowds, as “Alice in Wonderland” earned a whopping $116.3 million in its opening weekend — a record for a 3-D film.
The surprisingly huge total easily surpassed all other films in release and gave Walt Disney Studios an even bigger opening than that of the hugely popular 3-D film “Avatar.” It also marked the biggest opening weekend for a nonsequel.
“This is just one of those cultural phenomenons that has caught everybody’s interest,” said Chuck Viane, Disney’s president of distribution. “They don’t come like this very often.”
The film beat forecasts that ranged between $65 million-$75 million. Before the weekend, Disney and 20th Century Fox competed over the available 3-D ready screens; screens outfitted for 3-D are rapidly rising, but still amount to fewer than 4,000 in the U.S. and Canada.
Before “Alice,” many of those screens were still dedicated to Fox’s box-office behemoth, “Avatar.”
In its 12th week of release, “Avatar” earned $7.7 million over the weekend, bringing its cumulative domestic total to $720.2 million.
Asked whether fewer 3-D and IMAX screens hurt “Avatar,” Chris Aronson, head of distribution for Fox, said, “No question.”
“Are we disappointed? Sure,” said Aronson. “But there are certain market forces that are beyond anything we can do. To have an 11-week window is pretty much unheard of. It certainly allowed this movie to be discovered and witnessed by so many people.”
The weekend’s second best performer at the box-office was Overture’s “Brooklyn’s Finest,” Antoine Fuqua’s gritty police thriller, which earned $13.5 million in its first weekend, according to studio estimates.
Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” for Paramount followed closely with $13.3 million in its third week of release, bringing its cumulative total to $95.8 million. Warner Bros.’s comedy “Cop Out” came in fourth, adding $9.1 million for a two-week total of $32.4 million.