Did Johnny Depp's Domestic Violence Troubles Hurt 'Alice Through the Looking Glass'?

Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter in Alice Through the Looking Glass
Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter in Alice Through the Looking Glass

Johnny Depp: Did His Domestic Violence Troubles with Amber Heard Doom Alice Through the Looking Glass?

Disney had been hoping to be grinning like a Cheshire cat by now. Instead, it’s licking its wounds after a punishing Memorial Day box office for “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” the CGI-filled, big-budget sequel to the hit “Alice in Wonderland” that returned Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter.

The Tim Burton-directed “Alice in Wonderland” opened to a huge $116 million over the same holiday weekend in 2010 on its way to a staggering $1 billion. And while expectations were lower for the James Bobin-directed sequel, analysts still expected “Looking Glass” to bring in about $60 million over the three days, with some guessing as high as $80 million.

Instead, “Alice Through the Looking Glass” limped into Tuesday with an estimated $27 million

“It’s disappointing,” Disney distribution head Dave Hollis tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The domestic opening is wildly less than what every tracking service had us at. We’re in the tentpole business. More often than not, they turn out to be huge successes. We’ll continue to take those big bets. In this instance, it didn’t turn out as we hoped.”

Johnny Depp and Alice Through the Looking Glass Faced Several Land Mines over Memorial Day

“Looking Glass” had the misfortune of opening the weekend after Depp’s divorce from Amber Heard took a nasty high-profile turn. Days after filing for divorce, the actress secured a restraining order in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging he assaulted her in what she claimed was his latest instance of drug- and booze-fueled violence.

“I live in fear,” she said in an affidavit. Depp denied the allegations, suggesting Heard invented them to sweeten her divorce payout, but didn’t fight the restraining the order.

Although Depp had already completed a round of promotion for “Looking Glass,” the headlines from his personal life overwhelmed the publicity for the film, drowning out stories featuring interviews with such other stars as Anne Hathaway and Mia Wasikowska.

But “Looking Glass” had other problems, starting with mostly bad reviews that contributed to an anemic 30 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“I think the reviews had more to do with the film’s performance than any personal drama for Depp,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, tells the Philadelphia Daily News. 

It also faced head-to-head competition from another big special effects film, “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which despite getting its own tepid reviews vied for the same holiday weekend audience. “X-Men” opened atop the box office with an estimated $65 million, much better than “Looking Glass” but still behind other films in the franchise.