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“Cars 2” Opened At #1 with No Thanks To 3-D

Cars 2

From the “better late than never” department comes this box office report from last weekend. I thought I might as well post it since this week’s debut of Transformers 3 will knock Cars 2 from the top spot. Pixar’s latest effort debuted last weekend in the lead position with $66.1 million, topping the original Cars opening weekend of $60.1 million, but trailing it in terms of attendance. The number that caught my eye though was its dismal 3-D performance. As with Kung Fu Panda 2, the majority of audiences chose to watch the flat version, with only 40% paying a 3-D premium. Compare that to 60% who saw Toy Story 3 in 3-D and a 52% 3-D share for Up.

Even with the higher debut, Box Office Mojo predicts that Cars 2 won’t reach the original film’s $244 million domestic gross, not that it’ll make much of a difference to the smiling execs at Disney. The film is also tracking to do considerably better overseas than the original Cars.

In one other bit of box office news, earlier this week Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil finally passed the $10 million mark in the US after 62 days of release. Combine that with earnings of $3.6 million from overseas and it’s grossed a grand total of $13.6 million.

  • tom

    I really hope this is the death of 3D in cinemas (again.) I’m fed up of having to pay more money for the inferior experience.

    • DonaldC

      Honestly, I love 3D. Being able to see depth seems like the next logical step for me. If the film’s a little darker it’s no skin off my nose.

      I’d attribute the low 3D sales to people being interested but not interested enough to pay the extra. We’ll see though.

      • tom

        I’m not disagreeing that 3D done well is really good – having played Ocarina of time for the 3DS, it certainly adds alot to the experience especially in games. However, I get pretty severe headaches from watching films over 180 minutes (dark room, bright screen and all that) and 3D tends to half that time.

        3DS is great since you have a slider to turn it on and off at whim.

      • eeteed

        if a 3d movie looks dark it means that the cheap movie theatre is underlighting it to save few dollars.

      • tgentry

        I can no longer see the effect of 3D. It’s gradually worn off to the point where I don’t get that “it’s coming off the screen” sensation anymore. I tried to force my brain to see it with Cars 2 and nothing. I wonder if there have been any studies on the gradual desensitization of the effect over time? At any rate, I saw this in 3D only because my local theater tends to show “big movies” only in 3D. It’s what’s led me to see less movies over the course of the last year. I simply can’t afford to pop in for a matinee of a certain kind of movie like I used to. Now I just wait for it on Netflix.

      • 2011 Adult

        This news pleases me. Yeeeeessssssssssss.

        I also found it incredibly easy to find a theater showing it only in 2D, and I live in a metro area. Curiously, it was NOT easy for either BOLT, or Shrek 4. I suppose it depends on the film and the theaters’ decisions.

      • Kyle Maloney

        tgentry, some movies are intentionally more subtle than others so as to not be too distracting. Pixar doesn’t make their movies jump out of the screen but rather go into it. If you want it to poke out past the screen see a dreamworks or blue sky movie, or any theme park attraction. I think its less about being desensitized to the effect but more studios realizing its ok to pull back a bit.

      • Bud

        “if a 3d movie looks dark it means that the cheap movie theatre is underlighting it to save few dollars.”

        The main reason is that both the projection AND the glasses dim the image and the color 20% to 48″ in EVERY instance—even under the best conditions.

        And then, to add insult to injury…they underlight.

        Stereoscopic films suck.

      • I’ve found that lot of the quality of the 3D experience depends on the theater and your placement in it. I saw Coraline in the center of a large theater and it worked really well. I saw the film again at a smaller theater seated towards the left it the 3D was less effective.

        But in terms of 3D itself, for certain films 3D can enhance the film experience, but it will never be any more than just an enhancement. The fact that some suits think that it’ needs to be in EVERY film bugs me–what is it with suits these days that they feel compelled to take anything that’s a little special and make it commonplace?

      • Funkybat

        I agree with both sides of the 3D argument. If you sit dead-center relative to the screen, hopefully abut 1-3rd of the way up the auditorium, it is optimal for the effect. The theater also needs to send as much “candlepower” as possible at the screen to compensate for the irritating but apparently unavoidable dimming effect that 3D glasses have on the film.

        Some films I’ve seen such as Coraline and Avatar really benefited from the 3D presentation. Most 3D animated film’s I’ve seen were somewhat more interesting to look at in 3D, but it wasn’t really necessary. I saw Cars 2 in 2D because I like bright colors, and if I go back to see in in 3D I will have already taken in the movie and can afford to let myself be distracted analyzing the 3D, looking for “easter eggs” etc.

        Honestly, though, I can’t stand paying several more dollars for 3D. I know that there is an extra cost because of the glasses, but if more people saved and re-used their 3D specs, they wouldn’t have to give away so many at every show and that would drive down costs. I don’t know if the “recycled” glasses just get cleaned and re-packaged, or if they actually get broken down and melted for use in other plastic items. If it’s the latter, that’s just incredibly wasteful, a net energy loss…

  • Toonio

    Guess Pixar could use Cars 2 as a scape goat for following releases. For instance they might say: “Monsters 2 wasn’t that good, but hey, it was way better than Cars 2”.

    Everybody knows that second parts were never better (being Empire Strikes Back the only big exception). Throw the old moldy bones out from Pixar’s backyard and give them a barrel of piranhas kind of challenge. Only that way they’ll come back victorious.

    • Gene

      Godfather 2 is better…and a better second than Empire.

    • Wait, so you don’t think that Toy Story 2 is better than the first one? Not even with Jesse’s heartbreaking flashback, the Woody’s Round-up theme song, and the ingenious inclusion of evil Emporer Zurg?
      Cuz if’n you don’t, we can’t be friends. :(

  • michael

    Any money Cars 2 makes in the box office is extra, it is the toy licensing fees that will make Cars 2 a success.

    The audience has not necessarily rejected 3D, just paying more for it. Funny, no one thought to raise the price when they put in the Lucas incredible sound systems in during the late 1980s. And where would Michael Bay be without today’s sound systems?

    You need to finish the sentence with Hoodwinked Too and add the cost. It is not how much you make that is always important. Did you make a profit is always the most important factor. Hoodwinked Too will have to sell alot of DVDs to get out of the red.

  • CARS CRASH: Sadly, many people in this country are unable or unwilling to read reviews of films. It is not a bad idea. The average rating of all film critics on the quality of filmmaking of the Cars 2 movie itself was 33% out of 100%; LOWER than the awful, humorless, exploitative Hangover II. This is not a meaningless statistic. It is an acute embarrassment, if you are paying attention or if you care. That’s my opinion.
    This rating is way, WAY off the level of quality in films we have seen from this studio in the past. Not even close. Not in the same league as they themselves.
    Something is definitely not right.
    The high box office for the 2D version IS meaningless in terms of filmmaking. Many Americans as a whole are anti-intellectual, do not read, are addicted to violence and sensory overload, and really cannot handle getting too “deep”. It is a shallow culture. I think John Lasseter gets this; he really is brilliant. This lousy film will make tons of money for Pixar. Hhmmm; success???

    • I’m not American, but

      ouch, ouch and double ouch.

    • Josh

      There’s a whole lot of unnecessary generalization in that message, Foghead. Besides, didn’t you catch the part where Cars 2 is set to easily outperform Cars overseas?

    • Inkan1969

      You’re accusing Lasseter of purposely making a bad movie out of cynical motivations. Isn’t that excessive, Foghead?

  • Gene

    It’s not just “many Americans” who are [sadly]anti-intellectual–it’s many people in most if not all the world. Especially Australia, Europe, and South America.

    • Millsie

      Especially in Australia.

  • Death to 3D! If Pixar kills it, it’s just another reason to like them as a company.

  • Is this a discussion about 2d versus 3d or film making? If it’s 2d versus 3d no ones mentioned the obvious. I have a son, as do most of the people seeing this cartoon.

    *By the way!!!! IT’S A CARTOON! As much as your semblance/self-worth as a human being may depend on the definition of an animation “artist” as a true artistic genius, you still make a FUCKING CARTOON! Yeah, a lot crazy talent is here in the industry but it’s a cartoon, so everyone jut relax.

    But I digress! Here’s why this failed. Kids (like my 3 1/2 yr old son) want, no, LOVE Cars. They are fussy. A big clunky 3D eyepiece is not going to be an option for an hour and a half with a parent. It has nothing to do w/ the film making. It’s all just logistics at that point. And god help us all if they run out of those booster seats…

    So yeah, question:

    Is this a “see good film making makes money” or “3D is pointless”? Clarify please.

    I suspect in the end it’s really, an “Oh yeah, it’s a fucking cartoon isn’t it? Who want’s to see cartoons? Oh yeah, kids and their sleep deprived parents”.

    • quick caveat, I would like to fail like Pixar.

      • Jason

        More like succeed if you had Disney’s marketing team because let’s face it, they’re the real moneymakers here.

  • I think that it really costs watching in 3D. But of course Transformers are much better in case of dynamics to watch in 3D cinemas.

  • James Ciambor

    3D doesn’t enhance the experience. Biggest technological mistake in film history gives me migraines. Multiplane, Rotoscope are lesser known and they have done more to enhance the viewing experience and technologically progress the industry. In fact Disney relied on the rotoscope to ensure believability in all of his features until 101 Dalmatians when they transferred to Xerography.

    Unfortunately as inferior 3D is to all the above mentioned technologies it still attracts audiences and ensures profit. I wish the mainstream would do some research animation history is filled with a variety of technological achievements none of which synonymous with 3D.

  • Thaniell

    @What?: Yeah it’s a cartoon/animation movie, but that does not necessarily mean is story has to be dumb! It does not even mean, that it has to aim at children! (And yeah lots of those really simple cartoons that are soo simple just so the little stupid children can understand them, are an insult to most childrens brains).

    That being said, Cars2 definitely aims at children’s hearts with the car toys, so yep, I wouldn’t assume any evolved story or character development – still it’s a shame if none of these are present – but the movie totally does its job, if the children remember those cute/cool cars and afterwards be a pain in the ass of their parents until they got some cars toys.

  • As cool as I think 3d can be, we are in a recession, and the idea of charging MORE for movies for ANY reason seems a bit foolish. I’d be looking for ways to give the audience more for what they are currently paying rather than adding a “premium” at extra cost that they can live without.

    • Funkybat

      Movie exhibitors are not about to lower prices, even if they should. Due to the deals that have been worked out with the distribution companies, movie chains don’t have much of anything off of the sky-high ticket prices thty charge, unless a film has been out for like 3 or 4 weeks. Not too many films are still strong draws 4-5 weeks into their runs, so the movie theaters desperately want you to buy their expensive heart-attack-inducing food. Their business model is kind of screwed, and the future of “movie theaters” is more and more in doubt as a generation of kids grows up with streaming full-res movies on 40-something inch TVs in their homes.

      Movie theaters probably would do a little better if they promoted more “value” shows or otherwise had shows that basically cut their profit from ticket prices down to nil. That would at least get more butts in the seats, and more people to buy those snacks that give them their meager profits. They couldn’t cut prices too much, since the studios demand their cut.

  • CC

    I think the reason it’s not doing so well in theatres (3D wise), is not so much the 3D technology, it’s justifying paying more to see a movie that hasn’t done so well with the critics. Since I haven’t seen it (so I’ve only got the critics to sway my reasoning in going), it seems to me that unlike what we’ve come to expect from past Pixar films, Cars 2 is doing better with the younger ones. Younger ones who may not want to keep glasses on the entire film.

    Judging by the decision that the next Batman will not be available in 3D, I think this 3D phase may be passing… I hope.

    • Michael F.

      The next Batman isn’t in 3D? No surprise there; Christopher Nolan tends to focus on stories above all else.

      Anyway, the big thing about 3D is that it shows up in lots of movies as a means of trying to cover up the flaws of a movie. Hardly any movie that is in 3D is actually made with 3D in mind; I think Drive Angry is the only movie so far this year to have been made with 3D in mind. Moviegoers are beginning to become suspicious and would rather go with 2D films.

      • Funkybat

        Cars was clearly made “in 3D” but yeah, I refuse to see in 3D any of these films that get “converted” to some kind of fake 3D process. If a film is filmed originally with special 3D cameras, and the director and visual designers make sure to get full use out of that, it can be amazing. Avatar was way more impressive than it deserved to be because of Cameron’s 3D cinematography. Coraline was amazing to experience in 3D. But when something of converted after the fact, it is not really enjoyable and can even be distracting.

  • eeteed

    speaking of “hoodwinked too”, i wonder how much it cost to make that movie.

    if it cost say 9 million to make market and merchandise, and the film grossed 13.6 million, that means a 4.6 million profit.

    that’s not a bad profit. why go up against heavyweights like pixar and dreamworks when you can make a little film like this, sneak it under their radar, and make a tidy little profit.

    • Bud

      The norm is double the money back to get into the black. I very much doubt it cost 9 million to make, market, and merchandise. It was awful, but I’m betting the film alone cost 11 million or a bit more, and marketing (which was almost zero) was a few more million. So total, $15 million. After $30 million, it’ll turn a profit. It varies a bit, but not much.

      • Skeptical

        “Double the money back” is not the norm. It’s far more complicated than that. Theater owners typically get about 50% of the theatrical grosses (especially for films that aren’t event films). Shave off another 10-12% for distribution, and at best 40% of Hoodwinked Too’s box office grosses are going back to the studio. Now factor in that the AVERAGE prints and advertising budget for a film is now about $35 million, and even a film that had a small P&A budget will be spending north of ten million. That’s all on top of production costs, and doesn’t factor in any profit participation by key people involved in the production.

        Bottom line, even if Hoodwinked Too did gross $30 million, it would still be deeply in the red.

    • Ethan

      Hoodwinked Too has an estimated production budget of 30 million (according to boxofficemojo). It’s definitely a big loss of money, no matter how you calculate the percentage going to the distributors/theaters.

      Budget wise, I’m more impressed with what Blue Sky has been doing consistently, they limit their budget to 80 or 90 million and are competing pretty well against Dreamworks 150 million, or Disney and Pixar 200 and 260 million.

      My guess? they’re using some form of forbidden dark magic.

      • eeteed

        @ ethan…

        a production budget of 30 million ?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        somebody cooked the books!

      • Ethan

        “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Millsie

    Here in Australia Cars 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2 opened on the same day. I chose to see KFP 2 over Cars 2 because it looked to be more appealing and only 3D sessions were on at that time, and I didn’t want to spend $20+ on Cars. (I’ll probably see it in 2D on a cheap Tuesday.)

    As for KFP2 3D, the 3D experience wasn’t as bad as when I saw Avatar or Toys 3, but I think I would have enjoyed the film much more if I had seen the 2D version.

  • Katie M.

    It seems that all the 3d haters seem to suffer side effects from the experience (migraines, etc). I personally enjoy 3D as long as its used to add depth to a scene’s background, not to exploit eye-popping gimmicks. Seriously guys, its not as bad as you make it sound. Its boosting the industry for sure. If its not for you its not for you, but you don’t need to bash it like its the death of our artform.

  • Christian

    I got a 3 year old kid That loooove Cars 2 .. the ONLY reason we seen it in 2d is that 3 year old kids DON`T like having glasses on..Thats it!!!! It`s not because you guys think oooh… 3d it dying or kids don`t like 3d… No!!! Cars movies are for 2 to 4 year old kids… Thats IT!!!! no science!!! Parents, will not put 3d glasses on their 3 year old … Why? they will take theme off during the movie….Same goes for Kung fu Panda!!!


    • Funkybat

      The “toddler factor” is probably a bigger part of this than some are giving it credit. I am not surprised that 3 year olds don’t want to wear the glasses, but I am a little surprised I guess because I think of the “target age” for the Cars movies as 6-12 year old boys. I guess it skews lower, even though most three year olds will only comprehend a fraction of what even a simplified Pixar movie is all about. I would say most Pixar films are best viewed by kids 6 and up.

      • Michael

        I saw it with a two year old, he got it. “lightning McQueen got mad at mater and he was sad”.

  • Skeptical

    Forget about Cars 2 not doing so well in 3D. How about the early reports that show it might drop 65% in its second weekend! This could be the fasted fading Pixar movie ever.

  • J_Kandefer

    I hope 3-D dies out soon. I protest it! I saw Avatar in 3-D and not only was that the stupidest most predictable movie I ever saw, but after about 10 minutes of the film I stopped noticing the 3-D at all and I was stuck with these uncomfortable 3-D glasses, which were smudged with popcorn grease because they were recycled…The worst movie experience EVER!

    Movies like hoodwinked too, Alpha and omega and space chimps just shouldn’t be made. You might say that kids like them anyway even though the animation and stories are so dull and typical, but that is no longer an excuse when you have movies like Finding Nemo, Up, Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda…which are great films that both kids and adults enjoy. There is a new standard. Anything below that is just a lazy push to get some crap out that rides the tail of really well done animated films.

    • Funkybat

      Just because “Raging Bull,” “The Godfather” and “Easy Rider” got made and were critically acclaimed doesn’t mean Hollywood swore off of making films like “Black Sheep,” “Scary Movie,” or “Con Air.” There will always be a market for more simpleminded films, stuff that appeals to base emotions and doesn’t challenge anyone.

      We are lucky to live in an age when there are so many great animated films being produced. Even some of the Dreamworks films a lot of people like to rag on are better overall than a lot of animated movies from the 70s and 80s. Don’t expect cheaper, simpler, baser cartoons to go away. Disney and Hanna-Barbera co-existed, so can Pixar and whatever studios make films like “Hoodwinked” or “Alpha and Omega.”

    • The Gee

      Here’s the thing:

      Not every single bit of animated entertainment is made for you. Nor is every bit made for me.

      To lump it all together and say that X and Z should be made and Y isn’t worth it is wrong-headed and missing the point that there is room enough for a lot of different things to be made. Yes, I’ll include “Space Chimps” in that, too. Who’s going to like it? Do you really need to care if that group doesn’t include you?

      The thing is that it seems like any feature film that is released is a crap shoot. As much as someone, well, a lot of people think it will be great or well received or do good enough, no one knows for sure. A lot of good movies, especially live action ones, are cult classics at best; others may not even make it to level of sustained success. So it goes.

      Now, I will say this, not every feature film needs to be a feature film. Some might work with a shorter running time and maybe intended for a different venue, maybe TV or DTV. But, obviously, when features are made, the money that goes into making needs to be recouped. Even the cheapest animated feature isn’t that cheap, certainly not as cheap as the most low-budget live action flims.

      • The Gee

        ha. sorry if there is any confusion to my comment.

        It was intended to be a reply to J_Kandefer, but, by the time I got back to finishing the comment and posted it, Funkybat already replied.

        And, I approve that reply’s message.

        I will add this: some of the most boring and lame animated features I have ever seen were done decades ago. For the love of God, what were they smoking…or…why weren’t they?

        But, the chances are good the movies weren’t boring to a lot of others because some of them are revered. So, for that reason alone, it is great they were made.

        If I had to add another reason: while I prefer productions be here in the states, any production which produces jobs is good enough for me.

  • Ethan

    69% drop on the friday estimate.
    33% on rotten tomatoes.
    Lots of toys and lunch boxes sold.

    It certainly looks like their flagship studio is used to produce feature-length toy commercials. That’s the difference between a 100,000+ employees corporation and a real animated films studio. At least the studio has a market model which forces them to make money with the actual film. When a corporation has around 35 billion revenue in multiple sectors, the film itself is not important, the brand is, the film becomes a commercial for other sectors.

    The first year they tried to ramp up to 2 films per year (Cars 2 and Newt), they ended up with a critical failure, a canceled original film, a director tossed away, and yet another director leaving. Lasseter also stepped down to direct Cars 2 himself. At least they finally found someone to direct Monsters 2, I hope this new guy really loves plush toys.

    Having no nominations in the animated feature category could hurt the brand more than Cars losing against Happy Feet, or Monsters inc losing against Shrek. Having no film to show against Puss-in-boots in november is not helping either. I cannot believe Newt would have been a much worse film than Cars 2. The whole idea, that they are canceling films which are not up to the studio’s level of story quality, is now impossible to believe. Lasseter should have canceled his own film and fired himself.

    • Ethan

      I need to add: if anyone else is infuriated by the fact that corporations consider the brand to be so much more important than the product, I recommend reading “No Logo” by Naomi Klein. This book is 12 years old and doesn’t age at all.

  • fremgen

    I assume the rest of America, like myself is already paying a pretty high ticket cost to watch a movie, so why pay more for 3D when it really doesn’t ad much????

    Also for me personally, after about 10 minutes, assuming the movie is’nt bad, I so into the film, I’m not even noticing the 3D anymore.

  • J_Kandefer

    First of all Gee, those films will be made wether I like them or not, so I was just telling my opinion. Secondly, i noticed you like to say this thing about movies not being tailor made made for individuals…no kidding! I have seen plenty of movies i didn’t think i was going to like, but ended up loving them. And I have seen movies like Cars 2 that i know were not made for me, and i am fine with that. I was refering to films i have seen that i personally think give a bad name to animated movies. I know there is a market for them, i was in the marketing business, i just think kids and adults deserve more.

    I also dont think every movie has to be “deep” and dramatic. I loved Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

    • The Gee

      Well, sorry for lumping you into the category of those who seem to express the notion that all entertainment belongs to them and then complain when it isn’t something they like. The Internet can make it seem like Consumers are spoiled and too demanding about stuff that doesn’t really matter.

      I agree not every movie, or cartoon feature, needs to be an Oscar caliber one that is certifiably Classic. But, yeah, it would be great if it seemed like most or all tried making great, original entertainment instead of stuff that “rides the coattails,” like you mentioned. The copycat stuff, like the direct to DVD Kung Fu Panda knockoff seems like the worst of the lot to me though.

      The thing is the more that is being made, the good, bad and the ugly ones, means the animation climate is somewhat healthy. And, I guess my first concern isn’t aesthetics. The first concern is work for people in the industry and admittedly I’m biased that that more of that be stateside. So more releases means potentially more work.

      I’d be lying if I still don’t complain about trends, too. And, some of them might be the same trends that you don’t like and which make cartoons worse than the could be.

  • Metallicfire

    It’s like I always say, “3D” stands for the 3 extra dollars. That’s about the only difference.

  • CJ

    From what I understand the movie is as horrible as most people have expected. Although I hope it makes a lot of money to PIXAR can keep making amazing concepts like the upcoming Brave. After all, they are a business first and foremost so it’s logical they would want to bank on something they know is profitable.

  • J_Kandefer

    I agree the gee! I may have just came off a bit strong. Thanks for clarifying, I knew we could get along!