Disney Channel's one-hour special The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex garnered 5.9 million viewers during its Friday night premiere.
The special, which aired March 15 at 8PM/EST, marked a return for Disney's popular Wizards Of Waverly Place which had its series finale on January 6, 2012. The film centers around the Russo family going to a family reunion in Italy. When Alex (Selena Gomez) tries to make things easier by using magic she shows carelessness and a lack of maturity. In an effort to please those around her Alex casts a spell to rid herself of her bad side inadvertently creating an evil version of herself. The evil Alex begins working with an equally bad wizard named Dominic (Beau Mirchoff) who wants to take over the world from atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In an effort to save the world (again) good Alex must battle evil Alex.
Though The Wizards Return had high ratings and propelled its follow-up, the animated program Gravity Falls, to a series ratings high it still paled in comparison to previous Wizards efforts. In 2009 the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) Wizards Of Waverly Place: The Movie premiered to stellar ratings earning over 11.5 million viewers. It became the highest-rated TV movie of 2009, one of the most-watched TV movies ever and the second highest rated DCOM in the channel's history. Other Wizards outings that bested Alex vs. Alex include the one-hour special Wizards vs. Werewolves (6.2 million viewers) and the episode entitled "Paint by Committee" (6 million viewers).
Perhaps Alex vs. Alex would have faired higher ratings had the entire cast returned. Series regular David Henrie opted out of appearing in the special in order to focus on his film career. In the November 2012 issue of Glamoholic Magazine Henrie states that "jumping back into the Wizards world didn't feel like a fresh and challenging role that would progress [his] career".