Cars 2 springs a leak at the Box Office

According to Box Office Mojo Cars 2 continued being a decent draw during the week with totals in the respectable range:

Monday: $6,958,490
Tuesday: $7,089,413
Wednesday: $5,540,193
Thursday: $5,207,012

The real question is what would happen when faced by the latest Transformers juggernaut. Well the answer is a 69% drop from last Friday to this Friday for $7.8 million. Saturday was a small improvement at $9 million. That means an estimated $27 million take for the Fri-Sun weekend or a 60% drop-off. That 60% still earned them a #2 slot for the weekend. So not too shabby.

60% is about the bare minimum acceptable drop-off for holiday movies these days. It’s on course to beat its original, but not by much. And that’s not good considering theater admission costs more these days and Cars 2 was showing in 3D in many locations.

Disney business watcher James Stewart (author of the fun to read Disney War), writes a curious warning to John Lasseter not to let himself be steered off course by the suits in Burbank. Steward says Pixar is allowed this one mistake, but that the Story must remain King in Emeryville.

I don’t want to bash on Pixar for Cars 2. I actually found it to an enjoyable film. Pixar’s worst for sure, but even the worst Pixar film is better than much of the dreck that’s out there. Unfortunately, Pixar might be learning the same lesson Disney Animation learned in the 70s and 80s. When you’re held to a higher standard, that just means you have farther to fall. When you drop your standards for the purposes of crass commercialism, then you also lose the trust of your audience. Disney Feature Animation worked hard to reacquire that trust in the 90s only to lose it again through story telling with an eye on budget instead of story. If Disney allows Pixar to go down that path, this could mean big problems for their animation product.

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16 Responses to Cars 2 springs a leak at the Box Office

  1. Leigh says:

    I am glad you pointed out that Pixar is being held to a higher standard here. I truly enjoyed “Cars 2.” It is not a great Pixar movie, but it is NOT a bad movie by any other standard. Pixar should certainly pride itself on being held to a higher standard by critics, but many of the reviews I have read panning it do not make this point, and they should.

  2. Vic says:

    I don’t know why this is coming as so much of a surprise to so many people. Cars wasn’t hugely popular at the cinema. If the first one wasn’t, why should the second one get more movie-goers in? But the merchandise has sold in ridiculous amounts, so it’s a bit of cash-cow for Disney. And with such a big movie like Transformers following the week after, it’s even less of a surprise. The only way it would’ve been worse was if Deathly Hallows Part 2 was out now.

    Personally, I love Cars and can’t wait for Cars 2 to be released over here in Europe.

  3. Devlin says:

    Great post, it makes me thing about what Walt Disney said when he was pressured into making a sequel to The Three Little Pigs, and it was a bad film, he said: “you can’t top pigs with pigs” meaning you have to do better every single time and he didn’t make a sequel ever again.
    With Cars 2 it looks like they are trying to top pigs with pigs. Come one, Cars 2? Toy Story 4? Really? Sorry Pixar it was fun while it lasted. Looks like the bean counters are in control and the artists are either succumbing to the filthy lucre, or are so in love with their creations they are too afraid to let them go and try some thing new. Let Brad Bird take over Pixar, he wouldn’t stoop to sequels.

  4. Sal Tracanna says:

    I have to say I slighly disagree with whats being said. I do agree this wasnt the best film by Pixar, and yet it still is a good film. Now having said that, Cars was never a franchise that was going to break records and get high numbers in the theaters. The first film didng get huge numbers at the box office. So getting people to watch Cars 2 is a secondary issue for Disney. The main objective of Cars 2 is the merchandise. Thats where they made the most money and thats the main reason Cars 2 was made. Dont get me wrong, I’m not saying they didnt put the “pixar” effort into this movie, but this movie was made to get the money all year round from toys, games and other merchandising. So it may have sprung a leak, but once the cash comes in year round, the leak will be fixed and they can build a few more million cars.

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  7. Vallen Tucker says:

    First of all, Walt Disney made SEVERAL sequels to Three Little Pigs. I love how that little nugget of Disney history is swept under the rug. Plus Pixar is asked about sequels all the time. People have been clamoring for a sequel to the Incredibles for ages. it’s not like Disney is the only one pushing here. And if doing a Cars 2 every few years means they can get Up and Wall-E made then I’m all for it. One for the accountants so the suits stay away.

  8. Kathryn says:

    As a parent of a 3 and 4 year old who are big fans of the Cars movie, I was deeply disappointed that Disney/Pixar would screen such a violent sequel. The G rating is absolutley ridiculous! It is amusing enough for adults, but it really is not a kids movie. There are enough gunfights and bombs to make even Rambo blush!

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  13. Anonymouse says:

    The biggest lesson here is this. John Lasseter has to quit doing what HE wants and think of what Walt and The Disney fans want.

    Cars 1 – JL loves Cars and Route 66 which inspired an uninspiring movie

    Cars Land – John is in charge and his priority is to dedicate incredibly Valuable Park space in CALIORNIA adventure to be the ARIZONA desert and filled with the flattest characters in the Pixar universe?

    Cars 2 – Justified with Cars merchandising, he tries to expand his franchise internationally but focuses on the Jar Jar Binks of Pixar characters.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Lasseter, but Pixar had better franchises to put on a pedestal than Cars.

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