Brace yourself, because ‘Alice In Wonderland 2’ is no longer just a threat

It’s strange knowing that someone already got me a birthday present for the year 2016, and it’s even stranger knowing that it’s going to be horrible.

“Alice In Wonderland” earned over a billion dollars worldwide, and since Congress passed the famous 2005 Mandatory Sequel Act, that means Disney is legally obligated to make a follow-up. Mia Wasikowska returns as Alice and Johnny Depp will once again play Johnny Depp In A Crazy Hat, with James Bobin taking over as director for Tim Burton.

First question: will they demonstrate the utter lack of imagination necessary to actually call the film “Alice In Wonderland 2” or will they call it “Through The Looking Glass”?

Second question: thanks to the weird choices made with the script for the first film, wasn’t that technically “Alice In Wonderland 2” already?

Look, the sequel thing is probably the lamest overall thing anyone could get upset about when it comes to Hollywood studios, where fear has become the single factor in determining greenlights. Sequels to successful movies are the reason studios make movies. I also understand that Disney right now is all about brands, and James Bobin (currently wrapping up work on “Muppets Most Wanted” for the studio) is a very important figure for them, someone they hope to lock down for the immediate future. Likewise, Depp remains the single most essential player in their overall live-action plans, no matter how badly “The Lone Ranger” tanked.

Depp’s production company, Infinitum Nihil, seems to be genuinely interested in finding daring material and fostering challenging voices, a reflection of the choices that Depp made for the majority of his career. Captain Jack Sparrow may have derailed Depp the actor, but at least he still has some way to express that side of himself. I admit that the thing that bums me out most about this is knowing that Disney also wants to have the next “Pirates” sequel out in 2016, which would pretty much sideline Depp for a full year playing parts he’s already beaten into the ground. I feel the same way about Wasikowska, one of the best young actors working today. She’s so much more compelling than this stuff, but if playing Alice again gives her room to make a dozen smaller films that are worth her talent and her time, then so be it.

At any rate, “Alice In Wonderland 2” is set for May 27, 2016. Yipee.