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Alice in Wonderland is one of those classic stories that has delighted audiences of all ages for more than 150 years. During that time Lewis Carroll’s tale has been adapted to the screen countless times and the two recent Disney adaptations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are perhaps the most ambitious yet. Unfortunately, ambition doesn’t always translate to success and the latest attempt to bring the adventures to the big screen seem to have fallen as flat as Humpty Dumpty from his wall.
The new movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass, has barely made back its $170 million budget, though there’s still an opportunity to make up for some of these shortcomings in the international market. It has done so poorly that investors have taken notice, causing Disney’s stock to drop as a result. It’s only 1 percent, so it’s not exactly the end of the world. However, it’s still notable that something as simple as a movie flopping is enough to drive down the stock price of a juggernaut like Disney.
The first film in 2010 didn’t receive great reviews, but it was a money-making machine. It managed to rake in more than a billion dollars on its approximately $200 million budget and became one of only five movies to gross a billion at the time. Hot on the heels of the success of Alice, the other studios quickly followed suit with their own fairy tale blockbusters. Universal offered up Snow White and the Huntsman while Warner Bros. made Jack the Giant Slayer and the financial and critical disaster that was Pan.
The massive success of the first Alice in Wonderland also led to a resurgence in the popularity of the classic children’s tale. This means merch of all kinds, including clothing lines, shoes, toys and video games. Disney actually went on to produce several video games for the Nintendo consoles that were moderately well received, but it didn’t end there. A casino game based on the classic children’s story has hit the web, and it features all of the iconic characters and artwork drawn from Carroll’s tale. Of course, those characters include the White Rabbit, Mad Matter, smoking Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat and many more. However, the utter disappointment of Alice Through the Looking Glass would make it appear that Disney would sooner have the whole thing be forgotten than try to wring out additional profit through merchandising. Don’t expect many, if any, games this time.
Where the 2010 Alice in Wonderland was a visual spectacle that teemed with originality, the sequel simply feels like a rehash of the same ideas that won’t carry nearly the same wonder for audiences. While we can thank Wonderland for helping to launch the trend of Disney’s live-action remakes such as The Jungle Book and the upcoming Beauty and the Beast, the House of Mouse has learned the hard way that these are ideas that only live once.
The success of The Jungle Book and early fan reactions to Beauty and the Beast already have Disney looking for the next big thing and there are rumors that the company has its sights set on the Little Mermaid next. While the new Beast looks surprisingly good, we hope Disney will learn more from Zootopia‘s success and realize that people really want fun, original films—and not remakes of their childhood favorites.
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