Johnny Depp has signed up to star in a sequel to the 2010 $1bn fantasy blockbuster Alice in Wonderland, reports Deadline.
Depp, who only last week agreed to play Charlie Mortdecai in a film based on Kyril Bonfiglioli's books about the eccentric and debonair English art dealer, will once again portray the Mad Hatter in Hollywood's latest riff on the classic Lewis Carroll tale. The Muppets' James Bobin will take over from Depp's regular collaborator Tim Burton in the director's chair.
Burton's Alice in Wonderland film was itself a pseudo-sequel to Carroll's 1865 novel, although it also incorporated elements of the English writer's 1871 follow-up, Through the Looking Glass. Burton's film saw a 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) return to Wonderland 13 years after her previous visit. It is not known how the storyline for Bobin's sequel is expected to unfold, or whether Wasikowksa, now 23, might return.
The Disney iteration of Alice in Wonderland sparked the current trend for live-action fantasy follow-ups to classic children's fantasy fare, which saw The Wizard of Oz prequel, Oz the Great and Powerful, take the box office by storm earlier this year. It is expected to yield similar results for the upcoming Maleficent (a revisionist take on Sleeping Beauty, starring Angelina Jolie as the titular wicked queen) and Cinderella (a new version of the story directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Lily James and Cate Blanchett).
Despite being one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, Depp is currently experiencing a trough in box office clout and critical acclaim. His most recent films, this year's The Lone Ranger and last year's Dark Shadows, have both disappointed. The actor's decision to play Native American sidekick Tonto, complete with outrageous face paint and a dead crow by way of a hat, has been criticised by US reviewers for unbalancing The Lone Ranger. In 2014, Depp is due to return to more familiar ground as Captain Jack Sparrow in a fifth film in the ever-popular Pirates of the Caribbean series.
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