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First look: 'Green Zone' flops as 'Alice in Wonderland' dominates again

March 14, 2010 |  9:12 am

AliceNew "Wonderland" was packed once  again this weekend, while the "Green Zone" in Iraq had room to spare.

The new action drama "Green Zone," which stars Matt Damon, flopped at the box office, selling just $14.5 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday, according to an estimate from distributor Universal Pictures.

The studio and its financing partner, Relativity Media, spent about $100 million to produce the film and tens of millions more to market it, meaning it's sure to be a major money loser after its anemic start, which came in below already weak expectations. The opening is actually slightly worse than that of "Land of the Lost," widely considered to be last summer's biggest disappointment, which cost about $100 million as well and debuted to $18.8 million. It also continues the trend of low box-office returns for dramas set in Iraq and the Middle East, following such commercial disappointments as "The Kingdom" and "Body of Lies."

Word of mouth will likely be mixed at best, as those who went to "Green Zone" gave it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

International results weren't particularly strong either. "Green Zone" collected $9.7 million in 14 foreign territories. It performed best in Britain, where it took in $3.3 million.

Although huge openings usually lead to sizable second-weekend drops, at least 50%, director Tim Burton's 3-D "Alice in Wonderland," starring Johny Depp, declined just 47%, ruling the box office once again with a weekend domestic take of $62 million. After just 10 days, the blockbuster movie, which cost Walt Disney Studios about $200 million to produce, has grossed $208.6 million domestically and is on its way to taking in well over $300 million.

Overseas, "Alice" grossed a phenomenal $76 million in 48 territories, bringing its foreign total to $221 million. Counting only the countries where it started playing last week, ticket sales for Disney's film dropped 27%, a sign of strong continuing interest.

None of the three new low-budget pictures that opened domestically this weekend performed particularly well.  Paramount's romantic comedy "She's Out of My League," from former subsidiary DreamWorks Studios, played at the most theaters and took in $9.6 million.

Summit Entertainment's family drama "Remember Me," which drew a mostly female audience thanks in large part to "Twilight" star Rob Pattinson, grossed $8.3 million. Multi-ethnic comedy "Our Family Wedding," from Fox Searchlight, generated $7.6 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Mia Wasikowska in "Alice in Wonderland." Credit: Leah Gallo / Disney Enterprises.