Why It Took So Long For Alice In Wonderland To Get A Sequel

When a big blockbuster movie is successful, the typical reaction from Hollywood has long been to immediately green-light a sequel… but that wasn’t the case for Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland. Despite the fact that the movie made over a billion dollars worldwide in 2010, it took more than half a decade for a follow-up to get ready to hit theaters. So why did it take so long? Evidently it was the dual factors of Burton not wanting to come back, and the first film simply being such an extreme challenge to make.

This is how the situation was described to us by producer Suzanne Todd, who worked on the first Alice in Wonderland as well as its upcoming sequel, James Bobin’s Alice Through The Looking Glass. Earlier this month the filmmaker participated in roundtable interviews in Los Angeles to promote the second movie at an early press day, and it was in her response to the first question that she explained why it took six years for Alice 2 to make its way into production and start making its way to theaters. Said Todd,

No one expected that the first movie would make that much money. Who would think that at that time? Our little female empowerment movie, a billion dollars… Tim, from the get go, did not want to make another one. These movies are very, very difficult… They’re very difficult to make and years and years in the process, so we really took a long time working on first the idea and then the script. I mean, a really long time, probably close to a year and a half working with [screenwriter] Linda [Woolverton], reading through the books. We didn’t want to make a sequel just for the sake of the sequel.

Given the number of hastily created sequels in the industry, this is pretty refreshing, no? So it evidently took years for Suzanne Todd and the other folks behind the production to find the proper story to use as a way of continuing the story of Mia Wasikowska’s Alice… but eventually they discovered that the right material was right in front of their noses in the form of Lewis Carroll’s chess-themed Alice in Wonderland novel follow-up, Through The Looking Glass. In particular, the filmmakers were inspired by the author’s ideas about time and application in narrative form, and it was enough to get the wheels moving on Alice 2. Or as Todd put it,

I think once we came across the idea, which was a small notion in the books, of time and the importance of time, the significance of time, that seemed like something that we could all relate to. It feels like everybody struggles with, or in some cases, you don’t struggle with it and you just waste your time all day, surfing Facebook or doing Buzzfeed quizzes and you go, ‘Oh, what happened to my whole day.’ We wanted to take that on in a serious way.

The ball started rolling in May 2013 when James Bobin came aboard to direct, but it all came together in January 2014 when the title Alice Through The Looking Glass was announced, and it was revealed that Sacha Baron Cohen was in talks to play the role of Time. It’s been snowballing ever since, now ready to hit theaters on May 27th.

Are you happy the filmmakers behind the Alice In Wonderland sequel decided to take their time? Are you excited for the movie? Hit the comments section below with your thoughts, and stay tuned for more of our Alice Through The Looking Glass coverage!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.