Can a couple of beautiful, award-worthy animated features outshine this week's collection of gut-churning horror flicks? God, I hope so.
Take a classic, family-friendly film property and add a fan-favorite director, an iconic movie star and 3-D glasses, and you've apparently got a smash hit on your hands. Alice in Wonderland, the latest funhouse-mirror remake by director Tim Burton, opened to $116 million at the box office, the sixth biggest opening of all time, helping make it the biggest March opening ever in the U.S. That beats Burton's previous biggest opening, for Planet of the Apes ($68.5 million), and considering how much better this movie is than Apes, we hope it will outgross it in the long run, as well. Another $94 million from overseas placed it at number 14 on the list of biggest worldwide openings, so things are looking good there, too.
When the Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Feature were announced, the world collectively scratched its head when Coraline, Up, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Princess and the Frog were joined, not by 9 or Ponyo or even Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but the out-of-nowhere Secret of Kells. Having only had a limited qualifying run in December, it doesn't even open wide until this month, when everyone will finally be able to see exactly what makes it so great. And what that is, is a dazzlingly stylized form of hand-drawn animation that is unique among the nominees but reminiscent of older styles that will be quite familiar to fans of the genre.