Remember Tim Burton’s strange, highly-stylized 2010 retelling of Alice in Wonderland? The one that made over a billion dollars worldwide thanks to terrible 3D and a wacky Johnny Depp performance as the Mad Hatter? Well naturally, Disney started developing a sequel almost immediately after all those dollars started rolling in, but they’ve been on the hunt for a director to pick up where Burton left off. Now it appears they’ve found one.
Variety reports that James Bobin is in early talks to helm the untitled sequel, pending a meeting with potential star Johnny Depp. Bobin is already under the Disney umbrella, having directed the successful reboot/sequel The Muppets in 2011, and right now he’s hard at work on the sequel to that film, The Muppets…Again!, with a release date penciled in for next year. No word yet on when filming would get underway on Alice 2, but with Depp’s busy schedule, it would almost certainly be after he finishes work on Pirates 5, since Disney has that as a high priority release in 2015.
It’s depressing to think that Depp is at a point in his career at which he needs to slip creatively bankrupt projects like this into his rotation. Without his collaboration with Burton, it’s hard to imagine what kind of creative reason he has for wanting to revisit this character and this world outside of a paycheck. (Rumor has it he’s getting $20 million per movie these days…he just turned down a Whitey Bulger biopic this morning because he would have had to take $10 million instead.)
He hasn’t sold out completely – he’s currently working on Wally Pfister’s excellent-sounding sci-fi debut Transcendence, after all – but seeing Depp get further into bed with Disney doesn’t bode well for the choices he’ll be making over the next few years. One can only assume that this sequel will make a similar amount (or more) to the last Alice, meaning a third movie won’t be far behind. At least Depp made Captain Jack Sparrow an iconic character before all of the sequels started to pile on; can anyone really say the same about the work he did as the Mad Hatter?
At the same time, it’s hard to fault Bobin in this scenario. Somebody’s going to make some serious bank directing this sequel, and I’m sure he’s thinking it might as well be him. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton is returning to write the screenplay (not a great sign), so we’ll see if Bobin is up to Depp’s standards and hope that he can elevate what will likely be questionable material into something that at least is watchable. Thoughts?
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