Alice in Wonderland is a movie based on Lewis Caroll’s books, Alice. Released in 1951, the movie was considered a disappointment. As a result, Disney was forced to show it on television as one of the first episodes of his TV series Disneyland. It received tremendous success on television.
Later, it was re-released in theatres, which turned out to be successful as well. To help the movie gain more popularity, merchandise was released along with a subsequent home video. Today, it is known as one of Disney’s greatest animated classics. Let us go back in history and see how Disney managed to make Alice in Wonderland one of its biggest hits.
The movie is based on a character called Alice, who wishes to go on an adventure while becoming bored of her sister’s history lesson. As a result, she ends up at the bank of the River Thames. She encounters a white rabbit that tells her he is late for a very important date. Alice follows her into a large hole and comes across a tiny door.
The talking knob tells her to drink from the “drink me” bottle. Upon doing it, Alice becomes tiny and goes through the door, which contains a sea of her own tears, which she cried after eating the biscuit marked “Eat Me”. She grows very large as a result.
Then, Alice comes across numerous characters such as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Continuing her rabbit chase, Alice tracks the rabbit to his house. The rabbit mistakes her for her maid and asks her to retrieve his gloves. While searching for the gloves, Alice finds an “Eat me” cookie and grows taller. Now she is stuck in the house.
Considering her a threat, the rabbit asks Dodo to help him expel her. Alice then eats a carrot from the rabbit’s garden and shrinks again. She comes across flowers that are signing but then makes disparaging comments about her appearance and tells her to leave.
Alice then encounters a caterpillar who turns into a butterfly and flies away after Alice comments on her small size. Before leaving, the caterpillar tells Alice to eat a piece of mushroom that will help her grow taller from one side and shorter from the other.
Returning to her original height, Alice gets stuck in the woods and encounters Cheshire Cat, which asks Alice where does she need to go. Alice replies it doesn’t really matter. The cat suggests she asks the Mad Hatter or the March Hare to learn about the rabbit’s location. She encounters both characters along with Dormouse, who are having a party at Hare’s house.
Soon, the rabbit appears and chaos erupts. Alice now being fed up with the nonsense decides to leave but her surroundings change completely. As a result, she starts crying upon assuming that she is lost forever.
The Cheshire Cat reappears and suggests Alice ask the Queen of Hearts for home directions. At the same time, he shows her the “shortcut” to the King and Queen’s castle. At the time, the Queen orders execution by beheading of a trio of playing card gardeners who had planted white roses instead of red ones mistakenly.
The Queen invites Alice for a croquet match using card guards, flamingoes, and hedgehogs as equipment. The equipment rig the match in favor of the queen. As a result, the cat reappears and plays a trick causing her to fall over.
The cat disappears in time to make it look as if Alice was the prankster but before the Queen can order execution, the King asks for a trial. At the trial, the March Hare, Mad Hatter, and Dormouse stand as witnesses. The Queen is gifted a headpiece as a present, which turns into the Cat. While the Queen orders Alice’s execution, she eats a piece of the caterpillar’s mushroom and grows in size.
Alice is told by the King and Queen to leave the courthouse but she refuses and insults the Queen in return. Upon doing so, Alice returns to her normal size and the Queen again orders her execution. Alice runs while the card guards, Queen, and the King chase her. She reaches the small door encountered at the beginning and the talking doorknob tells her that she is already outside, asleep. Therefore, Alice, yells at herself, wakes up, and returns home.
The film was able to collect $2.4 million in rentals during its theatrical run in domestic rentals. Since the film’s production budget was $3 million, the studio wrote-off a million-dollar loss. In 1974, during its theatrical re-release, the film grossed $3.5 million in domestic rentals.
Alice in Wonderland received mixed reviews. While it settled well amongst the viewers and fans, the critics were not impressed by it. However, it did not come as surprise to Disney. The movie was originally intended for large family audiences and not literary critics. Despite the fact that Disney had spent years planning and thinking about the movie, the received a lukewarm response and was considered a sharp disappointment.
Trying to overcome the challenge, Disney revived the film in the 70s, which led to the critics hailing it as a classic. While critics back in the day stated that the movie lacked character. Now they were of the view that Alice in Wonderland was surely amongst Disney’s biggest hits.
Alice in Wonderland is yet another Disney classic that has gone down in history as one of the best animated movies. The harsh criticism of the critics did not stop the movie from turning into a classic. Although the first release was considered a flop but was saved by televisions and theatres. This perhaps is the sole reason Alice in Wonderland continues to remain popular even today.