Alice in Wonderland is an upcoming fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton. It is an extension of the Lewis Carroll novels Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The film will use a technique combining live action and animation. Mia Wasikowska plays the role of Alice, alongside Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as The White Queen, Crispin Glover as The Knave of Hearts, Michael Sheen as the white rabbit and Stephen Fry as The Cheshire Cat.
The film premiered in London at the Odeon Leicester Square on February 25, 2010. It will be released in the U.S and UK on March 5, 2010 through Walt Disney Pictures in Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D, as well as in regular theaters.
Alice Kingsley, now 19, attends a party at a Victorian estate shortly after the death of her beloved father. Alice spots a white rabbit wearing a waistcoat and pocket watch. In shock and confusion, she runs off into a maze and follows the White Rabbit through it. She eventually tumbles down a rabbit hole into Underland, more commonly referred to as "Wonderland" by its inhabitants. She had visited this place 10 years earlier, but had entirely forgotten about it. She is also told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwock, the dragon who terrorizes the inhabitants of Wonderland under the rule of the Red Queen.
Mia Wasikowska as Alice. A 19-year-old young lady "who doesn't quite fit into Victorian society and structure." Her return to Wonderland "becomes a rite of passage as she discovers her voice and herself." Screenwriter Linda Woolverton researched how young women were expected to behave in the Victorian era and then made Alice the opposite. Alice evolves over the course of the new film into a more strong-willed and empowered heroine who chooses her own path. Alice changes size throughout the story, ranging from a height of merely six inches to a maximum of 20 feet tall.
Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Tim Burton explained that Depp "tried to find a grounding to the character, something that you feel, as opposed to just being mad. In a lot of versions it's a very one-note kind of character and you know his goal was to try and bring out a human side to the strangeness of the character." The orange hair is an allusion to the mercury poisoning suffered by many hatters who used mercury to cure felt. According to Depp: "I think he was poisoned, very, very poisoned, and it was coming out through his hair, through his fingernails and eyes." The Mad Hatter is Alice's ally. Wasikowska says: "They have an understanding about each other. They both feel like outsiders and feel alone in their separate worlds, and have a special bond and friendship." In an interview, Depp stated his experience was "A dream come true" and that the Mad Hatter is like "A mood ring, his emotions are very close to the surface."
Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth, the Red Queen. Bonham Carter's head will be increased in size by three times on screen. The Red Queen is the older sister of the White Queen. She also hates animals, and she proves this by using animals as furniture. Bonham Carter's character is a combination of the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts.
Crispin Glover as Ilosovic Stayne, the Knave of Hearts. He is the head of the Red Queen's Army. Seven feet, six-inches tall, with a scarred face and a heart-shaped patch covering his left eye, Stayne is an arrogant, tricky character who follows the Red Queen's every order. He's the only one capable of pacifying her and calming her dramatic mood swings. "I am the martial element for the Red Queen," says Glover. "The Red Queen has a fair amount of short-tempered reactions to things that people do, and so my character has to be quite diplomatic." His darker side emerges in the shadows of the castle hallways.
Anne Hathaway as Mirana, the White Queen. Her character does not require digital manipulation. Hathaway summed up her character with a caption on a magnet of Happy Bunny holding a knife; "Cute but psycho. Things even out." She is very eccentric and dramatic. According to Hathaway, "She comes from the same gene pool as the Red Queen. She really likes the dark side, but she's so scared of going too far into it that she's made everything appear very light and happy. But she's living in that place out of fear that she won't be able to control herself." Hathaway describes her interpretation of the White Queen as "a punk-rock, vegan pacifist", with inspiration drawn from Blondie, Greta Garbo, and the artwork of Dan Flavin.
Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat. He is a dapper tabby with the ability to appear and disappear. He is all calm, casual sensuality with a seductive grin that masks his cowardice. It's the cat's disembodied head that first appears to Alice in Tulgey Wood after she's been attacked by the vicious Bandersnatch. He offers to purify the gashes on her arm by licking them. Alice declines, although she allows him to lead her to the Hatter's Tea Party where the Hatter blames him for deserting them on the day the Red Queen seized control of Wonderland. Using his skills and the Hatter's coveted top hat, The Cheshire Cat later finds a way to redeem himself.
Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit. The White Rabbit works for the Red Queen, but is also a secret member of the Underland Underground Resistance. He was sent (by the Hatter) to search for Alice. Sheen stated, "The White Rabbit is such an iconic character that I didn't feel like I should break the mold too much."
Alan Rickman as Absolem, the Caterpillar. Rickman was filmed while recording his voice in a studio, but his face won't be composited onto the character's face as originally planned.
Christopher Lee as the Jabberwock. The Jabberwock is a vicious and nasty dragon that is owned by the Red Queen. An item in the film called "The Oraculum" suggests that John Tenniel's original design for the Jabberwock will be used in the film.
Barbara Windsor as the Dormouse. Burton said that Windsor's voice sealed the deal for her role as the character.
Paul Whitehouse as the March Hare.
Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Burton said it was a mix of animation and Lucas. "It's a weird mixture of things which gives his characters the disturbing quality that they so richly deserve."
Michael Gough as the Dodo.
Timothy Spall as the Bayard, the Bloodhound.
Burton and Bonham Carter's children will have cameos in the film.
Development and writing
Joe Roth was developing Alice in Wonderland in April 2007 at Walt Disney Pictures with Linda Woolverton as screenwriter. That November, Burton signed with Disney to direct two films in Disney Digital 3-D, which included Alice in Wonderland and his remake of Frankenweenie. He explained "the goal is to try to make it an engaging movie where you get some of the psychology and kind of bring a freshness but also keep the classic nature of Alice." On prior versions, Burton said "It was always a girl wandering around from one crazy character to another, and I never really felt any real emotional connection." His goal with the new movie is to give the story "some framework of emotional grounding" and "to try and make Alice feel more like a story as opposed to a series of events." Burton focused on the Jabberwocky poem as part of his structure. Burton also stated that he doesn't see his version as either a sequel to any existing Alice movie or as a "re-imagining."
This film was originally set to be released in 2009, but was pushed to March 5, 2010. Principal photography was scheduled for May 2008, but did not begin until September and concluded in three months. Scenes set in the Victorian era were shot at Torpoint and Plymouth from September 1–October 14. Two hundred and fifty local extras were chosen in early–August. Locations included Antony House in Torpoint, Charlestown, Cornwall and the Barbican. Motion capture filming began in early October, at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. Though, the footage was later discarded. Burton said that he is using a combination of live action and animation, without motion capture. He also noted that this was the first time he had done green screen. Filming of the green screen portions, comprising 90% of the film, was completed after only 40 days. Many of the cast and crew felt nauseous as a result of the long hours surrounded by green, with Burton having lavender lenses fitted into his glasses to counteract the effect.
Sony Pictures Imageworks designed the visual effects sequences. Burton felt 3D was appropriate to the story's environment. Burton and Zanuck chose to film with conventional cameras, and convert the footage into 3-D during post-production; Zanuck explained 3-D cameras were too expensive and "clumsy" to use, and they felt that there was no difference between converted footage and those shot in the format. Director James Cameron, who released his 3-D film Avatar on December 10, 2009, criticized the choice stating "It doesn't make any sense to shoot in 2-D and convert to 3-D." Filming also took place at Culver Studios.
On June 22, 2009, the first pictures of the film were released, showing Depp as the Mad Hatter, Hathaway as the White Queen, Bonham Carter as the Red Queen and Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. A new image of Alice was also released. In July, new photos emerged of Alice holding a white rabbit, the Mad Hatter with a hare, the Red Queen holding a pig, and the White Queen with a mouse.
On July 22, 2009, a teaser trailer from the Mad Hatter's point of view was released on IGN but was shortly taken down because Disney claimed that the trailer was not supposed to be out yet. The teaser was also planned to premiere along with a trailer of Robert Zemeckis' film adaptation of A Christmas Carol on July 24, 2009 for G-Force. The following day, the teaser trailer premiered at Comic-Con but the trailer shown was different than the one that leaked. The ComicCon version didn't have the Mad Hatter's dialogue. Instead, it featured "Time to Pretend" by MGMT, and the clips shown were in different order than in the leaked version. The leaked version was originally to be shown to one of the three Facebook groups used to promote the film that had the most members. The groups used to promote the film are "The Loyal Subjects of the Red Queen", "The Loyal Subjects of the White Queen" and "The Disloyal Subjects of the Mad Hatter."
Also at the Comic-Con, props from the film were displayed in an "Alice in Wonderland" exhibit. Costumes featured in the exhibit included the Red Queen's dress, chair, wig, spectacles and scepter; the White Queen's dress, wig and a small model of her castle; the Mad Hatter's suit, hat, wig, chair and table; Alice's dress and battle armor (to slay the Jabberwock). Other props included the "DRINK ME" bottles, the keys, an "EAT ME" pastry and Stand-In models of the White Rabbit and March Hare.
On February 12, 2010 major UK cinema chains, Odeon, Vue and Cineworld, had planned to boycott the film because of a reduction of the interval between cinema and DVD release from the usual 17 weeks to 12. A week after the announcement, Cineworld, who has a 24% share of UK box office, has chosen to play the film on over 150 screens. Cineworld's chief executive Steve Wiener stated, "As leaders in 3D, we did not want the public to miss out on such a visual spectacle. As the success of Avatar has shown, there is currently a huge appetite for the 3D experience". Shortly after, the Vue cinema chain also reached an agreement with Disney, but Odeon had still chosen to boycott in Britain, Ireland and Italy. On February 25, 2010 Odeon had reached an agreement and has decided to show the film on March 5, 2010. The Royal premiere took place at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on February 25, 2010 for the fund-raiser The Prince's Foundation for Children and The Arts where the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended. It also did not affect their plans to show the film in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria. The film will be released in the U.S. and UK, in both Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D, as well as regular theaters on March 5, 2010.
Todd McCarthy of Variety praised it for its "moments of delight, humor and bedazzlement", but went on to say, "But it also becomes more ordinary as it goes along, building to a generic battle climax similar to any number of others in CGI-heavy movies of the past few years". Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter said "Burton has delivered a subversively witty, brilliantly cast, whimsically appointed dazzler that also manages to hit all the emotionally satisfying marks." while also praising its CGI, "Ultimately, it's the visual landscape that makes Alice's newest adventure so wondrous, as technology has finally been able to catch up with Burton's endlessly fertile imagination."