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By Lucas Shaw
NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - James Bobin is in early talks to direct "Alice in Wonderland 2" for Disney and producer Joe Roth, according to two individuals with knowledge of the deal. Johnny Depp would also return to star as the Mad Hatter, although that has not been explicitly announced.
Bobin already oversees another franchise for Disney, albeit a smaller one, in "The Muppets." He directed the first film, which was a big hit in 2011, and is currently wrapping up the second one, which will open in theaters next year.
The individuals stressed that the talks were in early stages and that Bobin had not yet met with the producers, but a meeting with Depp comes first.
In "Alice," he would inherit one of Disney's most grandiose film properties. Director Tim Burton, Depp and producer Joe Roth reimagined Lewis Carroll's iconic tale in a lavish, 3D 2010 film. Their take on the story of a girl who gets sucked into a fantasy world grossed more than $1 billion across the globe.
Though some contest whether "Alice" is truly a kid's tale, the success of that film spawned a rush of revisionist classic kids' tales, including two new Snow White movies, a "Hansel & Gretel" film and "Jack the Giant Slayer."
Linda Woolverton, who wrote the first "Alice" for Roth, has been working on a script for the second. Burton will not return, and though Depp has not officially signed on, it's hard to imagine Disney making another film without him. Disney declined comment.
Depp is already signed on to reprise his role in another major Disney franchise, playing Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean 5." He also just dropped out of "Black Mass," a biopic of famed Boston mobster Whitey Bulger. Depp would have played Bulger.
He is currently filming "Transcendence" for Oscar-wining cinematographer turned director Wally Pfister and will soon grace screens in "The Lone Ranger."
Bobin, who has also worked in TV on "Flight of the Conchords" and "Da Ali G Show," has no firm commitment to a film after "The Muppets...Again!"
Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd would produce.