By Nicole Sperling
March 07, 2010 at 07:23 PM EST

Image Credit: DisneyJust when we thought no other records would be broken following the culmination of Avatar’s lengthy reign, we face another round of box office firsts. And this time the records belong to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. The 3-D spectacle starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter earned an estimated $116.3 million, the highest grossing weekend ever for a spring release. Not only that, but IMAX– which pulled Avatar from all its screens in exchange for Alice–was rewarded handsomely with its highest weekend gross ever, $11.9 million in only 188 theaters. (IMAX’s 9 additional theaters plus Alice’s shorter run time gave the company the added boost over its Avatar numbers.) If there was even a question as to whether or not 3-D was here to stay, it’s now officially been answered. Avatar was not an anomaly. In fact, what it did was expand the marketplace to all those moviegoers that were nonbelievers in the 3-D technology. They tested it out with Avatar, were convinced of the stunning visuals, and they are now back for more. In fact, IMAX alone sold out every seat they had for the entire weekend. And Disney counts 65% of its weekend gross on Alice from 3-D screenings. Kinda amazing, really.

The rest of the box office followed pretty much as expected. Overture’s R-rated cop drama Brooklyn’s Finest grossed an estimated $13.5 million for a second place finish. Shutter Island came right in under that with a third weekend take of an estimated $13.3 million. (These two films could swap places once the actual numbers are reported tomorrow.) Warner Bros. buddy comedy Cop Out fell 50% to earn another $9.1 million for a two-week gross of $32.4 million. Avatar, which held onto 695 of its 3-D screens, dropped 44%, its largest fall since it opened three months ago. Still the box office juggernaut earned another $7.7 million to put its 12-week domestic take at $720 million.

Overture Films’ second movie to fill out the top ten was The Crazies, which earned the 6th spot with an additional $7 million. the 56% drop put the horror film’s two-week take at $27.4 million. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief took spot seven with $5.1 million and a total box office of $78 million. Valentine’s Day hung on to the top ten for a fourth weekend, earning $4.2 million and pushing its total cume past the $100 million mark.

Fox Searchlight is benefiting from this weekend’s Oscars. Its nominated film Crazy Heart grossed an additional $3.3 million for the ninth spot and has now earned $29.5 million. Already in 1274 theaters, Crazy Heart has been riding the Academy Award nomination wave for some time. We’ll have to watch to see if Jeff Bridges’ practically guaranteed win tonight will enhance the box office fate of this critical darling. And finally, Sony Pictures’ Dear John rounded out the top ten this frame earning another $2.8 million. It’s total gross now stands at close to $77 million.

Next weekend, Matt Damon in Green Zone and Robert Pattinson in Remember Me will try and challenge Alice in Wonderland’s newly crowned box office queen status. It’s unlikely either will succeed. Tune in next week for more box office fun.