Is 'Alice in Wonderland' Good for Disney Profits? Maybe

According to Hollywood.com and a number of studio estimates, "Alice in Wonderland" brought in $34.5 million in North America box office receipts for the March 19th weekend. That brings the total domestic haul to $265.8 million and the worldwide figure to $565.8 million. But it's difficult to know how much of that goes to Walt Disney's (DIS) revenue and bottom line.Disney will release the film on DVD quickly -- three months after the opening -- and it's hard to say whether that will cannibalize theater sales or not. The film has an all star team: Tim Burton, one of Hollywood's more successful directors, directed Alice, and Johnny Deep, one of Hollywood's most successful actors starred in it. Roth Films, Zanick Company, and Team Todd were all producers.

The public and Disney's public shareholders will never know who made what on "Alice," and how much of the box office figure will go to which participants involved in making the film. Successful directors and actors often get a percentage of a film's gross income, and the cost of making, distributing and marketing the film are divided into pieces that are not in Disney's earnings reports. DVD revenue adds to the sales of a movie, but that money is divided up as well.

It would be good for investors if entertainment companies put out numbers on how much they actually profit on each movie they distribute, but under SEC regulations they're not required to give that level of detail and studio overhead makes the analysis even more complex. That is to say that Disney may have made a fortune on "Alice" -- maybe.

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