Alice Through the Looking Glass bombs at the box office

2016-05-30 10:04

New York — Johnny Depp's Alice Through the Looking Glass bombed over the Memorial Day weekend with just $28.1m through Sunday in North American theatres, while X-Men: Apocalypse debuted on top with an estimated $65m.

The anticipated showdown of the two big-budget films turned out to be little contest for 20th Century Fox's latest X-Men instalment. Both films were lambasted by critics, and neither drew the audience many expected over the holiday weekend.

Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass had more than bad reviews to deal with. On Friday, as the film was hitting theatres, Amber Heard, Depp's wife, was granted a restraining order after alleging the actor previously assaulted her. She appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday with a bruise on her right cheek. Some fans called for a boycott of Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, said it was difficult to quantify how much the fortunes of Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass turned Friday afternoon when news of Heard's allegations spread.

"I think the reviews had more to do with the film's performance than any personal drama for Depp," Dergarabedian said.

Before Heard's court appearance on Friday, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland sequel had been expected to open above $60m. Disney estimates that the film, which cost $170m to produce, will gross $35.6m over the four-day weekend.

It's a staggering fall for a sequel that returned Depp — one of Hollywood's biggest stars, albeit with a recently checkered box-office history — as the Mad Hatter. Alice in Wonderland, featuring then-novel 3-D, made more than $1bn worldwide in 2010 after opening with $116m domestically.

"It's a disappointing result," said Dave Hollis, distribution chief for Disney. "We have embarked on a branded tent-pole strategy that makes big bets. But when you make big bets, there are times when you have results that are disappointing."

Hollis declined to speculate on the impact the allegations against Depp had on the film's opening.

A blip for Disney

It's a rare blip for Disney, which is already crossing $4bn in ticket sales in 2016 — a record pace buoyed by hits like Zootopia, The Jungle Book and Captain America: Civil War.

The flop of Alice made X-Men: Apocalypse look comparatively steady. But the seventh X-Men installment opened well below the $90.8m debut of 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past or the $132.4m bow of February's X-Men spinoff Deadpool.

Still, the film, made for $178m, has already made $185.8m internationally. Fox had looked to keep expectations in check for the film, directed by Bryan Singer. It stars X-Men regulars Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and others, but it introduces a number of newcomers, including Oscar Isaac, Tye Sheridan and Olivia Munn.

Chris Aronson, distribution head for Fox, called it not a reboot but "a readjustment" to pave the way for future instalments featuring the new performers.

"I'm very pleased," Aronson said. "It's right on track with what our expectations were going in."

Overall business over the weekend, according to comScore, was up about 5 percent from Memorial Day last year when Disney's Tomorrowland bombed with $33m. Boosting ticket sales were a handful of holdovers.

The family-friendly video-game adaptation The Angry Birds Movie grossed $18.7m in its second weekend, good enough for third place. Captain America: Civil War followed with $15.1m in its fourth weekend. (It has passed $1.1bn globally.) And the R-rated comedy Neighbours: Sorority Rising came in fifth with $9.1m in its second week.

(Gif: giphy)

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