Tim Burton’s last movie, 2016’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”, opened at No. 1 at the weekend box office. But it only totaled $87 million. His three prior films all underwhelmed. Golden Globe winning “Big Eyes” with Amy Adams – just $14.5 million. Disney’s stop-motion animated, Oscar nominated “Frankenweenie”: $35M. And Burton’s take on the TV show “Dark Shadows” with Johnny Depp: a tad under $80M.
Burton’s last true hit was 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland”, the biggest movie of his career to date, with $334 million. Like “Frankenweenie” and the Oscar winning “Ed Wood”, Burton made these films for The Mouse House. And he returns to the studio for a live-action, CGI version of “Dumbo”, out March 28th.
According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, out of the first 18 films Burton directed, only six of them earned more than $100 million in the U.S.: “Alice”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (a personal favorite), “Planet of the Apes”, “Sleepy Hollow” and his duo of “Batman” entries.
Burton is often considered one of the most niche directors in the industry. Yet “Dumbo” may be his most commercial movie in almost two decades – considering we’re now in the age of Disney re-doing EVERYTHING (his “Alice” in 2010 was a distant preview of what was to come).
Animated comedy “Missing Link” opens just two weeks after “Dumbo”, on April 11th. And Disney’s new interpretation of “Aladdin”, from equally unconventional director Guy Ritchie, is just two months out. I think “Dumbo” will make it 7 out of 19 for Burton over that $100 million mark. But how high it will go will depend on word of mouth from families.