carscrap carscrap

“Cars 2” is Already a Hit Whether You Like the Film Or Not


An article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal deemed Cars 2 a Hit Already–in Stores. The article made it clear that the franchise earns an obscene amount of money for Pixar’s parent company, Disney, and that basically means they’re going to continue making sequels and spin-offs until the cows come home (or until kids stop buying crap related to the film, whichever comes first).

Below are some of the key facts and financial figures from the WSJ piece:

* Disney believes it is on track to sell more tie-in merchandise with Cars 2 than any single previous film. The current record holder, Toy Story 3, sold $2.8 billion (yes, with a B) worth of merchandise last year.

* A yearly average of $2 billion worth of Cars merchandise has been sold since the release of the first Cars in 2006.

* Disney Consumer Products initially wondered what everyday products for boys could be branded with Cars before they realized, “All of them,” in the words of division chairman Andy Mooney.

* Cars earned $2.5 billion in revenue last year making it was the sixth most valuable character franchise in 2010. The top five were Mickey Mouse ($9 billion), Winnie the Pooh ($5.7 billion), Disney princesses ($4.4 billion), Toy Story ($2.8 billion), and Barbie ($2.7 billion).

* Disney’s average royalty rate for products licensed with the Cars characters is estimated to be between 10-13%.

* The new Cars has an estimated production cost of just under $200 million, which is slightly cheaper than Toy Story 3‘s production cost.

* The “World of Cars Online” role-playing game launched last year is considered to be a flop, and in the words of Bob Iger, needs “retooling.”

  • I heard the sequel’s getting good reviews. It’s nice to see a franchise big on toys is at least making entertaining movies.
    If only we had that in the 80’s.

    • Skeptical

      So far Cars 2 is at 50% ‘Fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes, which would make it the worst reviewed Pixar film ever, by a wide margin. That’s 15 negative reviews out of 30. Cars is the only Pixar film to get less that 90% positive reviews. 74% of its reviews were positive.

      For comparison, Up and Toy Story 3 combined had 8 negative reviews out of a combined 519.

      • Huh. It was positive earlier this week. I guess more reviews finally came in.

        Ah well. My mistake.

      • Jabberwocky

        It’s even worse now; down to 40% out of 80 or so reviews.

      • Today, Sat. 6-25-11, it is further down to 34%. Let’s call a thing what it is: a failure is a failure.

  • Saturnome

    It’s surprising to me that Mickey Mouse is such a strong seller. I see way more Cars merchandise in stores than anything else.

  • So, it would be no surprise that we’re going to have “Cars 3, 4, 5, 6…”

    • I doubt it. Planes…Ships, etc.

  • Vzk

    So far it has a 57 and 62 over at Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, respectively. It looks like this will be Pixar’s lowest rated film to date.

  • Tim Hodge

    It’s a common phenomenon that family films (and kids’ TV) make more money on licensing than actual ticket sales (or ad revenue in the case of TV shows).
    As much money as Lion King made in theaters, it made approximately double that on toys, books, lunchboxes, bedsheets, etc.
    And remember, it was the Mickey Mouse watch that saved the studio in the 30s.

    Of course a weak film doesn’t sell as much peripheral merchandise, so there is still a push for creating a film that resonates with kids. (Maybe that’s why we didn’t see any “Illusionist” Happy Meal toys.)

    • Tim Hodge

      For clarity – I didn’t mean to intone that “The Illusionist” was a weak film story or art-wise. By all means, no. But in that it was distributed on a limited scale, it’s box office performance was not in the same league as most animated blockbusters. That’s what was referring to.

  • Sam Orr

    Wheeled automotive vehicles with distinct personalities is a concept that the entire world understands. Cars and all of its sequels hit that button and Disney made enough to pay for its purchase of Pixar from the merchandising of Cars I alone.

  • I’ve been an outspoken critic of Pixar in the past so this is going to surprise a few folks.
    I don’t see anything wrong with Pixar making a movie like Cars 2, ie a movie that is a calculated attempt to bring in money.
    Why? Because the money made from Cars 2 will keep the doors open and keep the company solvent. It will give Pixar the financial ability to make odd, weird films…like say Up, riskier, stranger ideas.
    MY problem with Pixar is that they have always claimed to be above all of that, that they somehow exist on this magical plateau above everyone else, that the Pixar campus is an artistic utopia. They’re not, and it isn’t. They’re a movie company. That’s all. They aren’t evil, but they aren’t necessarily good. It’s just a company, and companies are in the business, ultimately, of turning a profit. I have no problem with that.

    • Lib

      I’ve heard this line of reasoning before, but I still fail to see how a studio as successful as Pixar would have to make this sequel to finance their other projects. It’s not like their previous films were anything even remotely close to a box office failure anyway.

      They probably didn’t need Cars 2 financially. They probably weren’t forced by anyone to make it. They probably made it just because they wanted to. And if it is an artistic disappointment, they probably deserve all the criticism. That will help them keep up the good work more than anything else.

      • “They probably didn’t need Cars 2 financially. They probably weren’t forced by anyone to make it. They probably made it just because they wanted to”

        Wrong, half right half right. Pixar’s movies cost between 180 and 200 million dollars. They employ over 1200 people and they are constantly pushing the technological envelope. They need all the money they can get, especially in a recession. The money they make from Cars 2 will ensure that they will remain solvent for years to come and safeguard them against any possible financial problems. To NOT make Cars 2 is like seeing a bundle of hundred dollar bills on the street and not picking it up. It would be financially irresponsible NOT to make Cars 2.
        Also, I know that a lot of the folks at Pixar WANTED to make Cars 2 if only because the idea came from an idea Joe Ranft had. So, knowing all of that, can you blame them?

      • Lib

        If we have to believe John Lasseter, he came up with the story idea of Cars 2 while promoting the original back in 2006, before there was any recession. Even prior to that, Disney started working on plans to develop Toy Story 3, which (despite its eventual quality) should’ve filled the role of the purely for-profit sequel among their upcoming films, making a second Cars much less urgent as a maneuver to make quick money.

        Brave or any of their next original films could probably make more than enough to keep them alive and well. In that sense, they didn’t *need* Cars 2, no matter how much more successful it could be than their other projects. So if they did make the movie based entirely on monetary concerns, and if it is as mediocre as reviews claim it is, there’s plenty of reasons to blame them. First, for making a subpar movie, and second, for making it when they are lucky enough to be in a situation where they could’ve perfectly avoided it and remain true to their principles.

  • Randy

    What a mountain of garbage all that merchandise is.

    I completely agree with John S. on the sequel….Pixar always pretty much implied -and showed, by the quality of their work – that they existed on a different artistic plane than most animation studios.

    Well, welcome to sequel city… you’re just one of the crowd, churning out follow ups to your films.

    You guys sold out here.

    Junk….count me out of this one.

    • That’s a bit unfair. I agree with John S’s point that movies geared toward a lucrative goal is an agreeable thing to aim for. As long as the movies themselves are relatively entertaining, and it assists in the making of interesting future productions, there’s nothing I see wrong with what they’re doing. I don’t see them selling out, just trying to feed their employee’s families and their creative business.

      I’m just trying to give Pixar the benefit of the doubt. Don’t group them with the sequel party just yet.

    • You sound like Stan from “South Park,” “It all sounds like shit!”

    • Gobo

      I see absolutely no problem with a studio making movies geared towards a specific audience. CARS and CARS 2 are hugely popular with kids, car nuts, and the Nascar crowd. They don’t appeal to me, personally, nor many critics (whose reviews almost all focus on how much they hate Larry the Cable Guy). But boy, do they appeal to a lot of people. Explain to me why that’s a bad thing?

  • I agree with John S. The ostentatious merchandising and relative lack of originality or continuity in the Cars 2 film seems to point directly to an almost admitted attempt at pure money-making. But if they turn around and invest that money in more risky, artsy films later, I think it can be justified.

    • Orly

      “They”, “they”…you do realize that Pixar is owned by the Walt Disney Company, and that the budgets for films made there and the revenue Cars 2 generates comes from and goes TO DISNEY, and is not poured back into a special Pixar-only budget fund?

      There’s absolutely no evidence that if Cars 2 is a huge smash the execs will then be more willing to let any releases be “risky”-in fact the opposite is more likely.

      • Jaron

        Well…Pixar was bought out by Disney in a huge deal awhile back. The chief creative officer for Disney is also the Chief creative officer for Pixar. So with a name like John Lasseter billed as the “chief creative officer” and “executive producer” of most of their animated films ,”risky” films, in this circumstance can happen. The Pixar company almost single handedly saved Disney from the Dreamworks dominance that was. Pixar at the time had quality films and Disney the money. Dreamworks films, I’ll admit aren’t really that great when it comes to story telling. But Marketing! Forget it! Jeffrey Katzenberg brought Disney out of the doldrums in the late 80s. His success with Shrek and countless others only made the merging of the two companies inevitable.

      • Yeah, this is what I’ve been worrying about too. And who really knows, as someone implied, if Pixar made Cars 2 just ‘because they wanted to’? Has it occurred to anyone that maybe the Disney Company, and not Pixar, was the one who ‘wanted to’? And that the Disney Company probably very much ‘wanted’ a sequel to Monster Inc., as well? Because – turning these popular single movies into popular franchises will mean trainloads of MONEY.

        But this was not what Pixar was supposed to be. Making sequels was not where they originally set out to go, years back. It feels like ever since the Disney Company bought Pixar, they have gradually turned more and more towards sequels. Consider this: After Toy Story 2 (1999) and up until the time Disney bought Pixar (2006), every idea put into development at Pixar was an ORIGINAL one. Up was the last of these; seeing as it took 4 years to produce, it must have begun development in 2005.
        Then… BOOM! Disney steps in, buys the studio, and the next thing you know Pixar is developing Toy Story 3. And you know what? Lee Unkrich, when being asked to direct Toy Story 3, was also working on an ORIGINAL idea of his own… an idea which he had to put aside in order to concentrate on TS3. I wonder if we’ll ever see any of that idea.
        So here’s the thing… Disney bought Pixar, and one of the outspoken conditions of that purchase was, it meant that Disney would stop developing sequels to any of Pixar’s films. If sequels were to be done, that would be Pixar’s right exclusively. But… maybe one of the not-so-outspoken conditions in that deal also stipulated that Pixar HAD to develop sequels to a certain number of their films. For all we know, maybe Disney has the right to demand that of them.
        In the public, Pixar and Disney leaders say that Pixar still has complete freedom on the creative basis. However, seeing where the studio is suddenly going makes me seriously doubt that. It’s hard not to get suspicious when 3 of the 5 films Pixar has put in development after 2006 are sequels, and one of the original ideas (Newt) didn’t even make the cut (it was more or less replaced with the Monsters Inc. sequel). So that’s 3 sequels and only one original film… compared to 6 years of all original ideas before the buy. Plus… the one, new original film lost its original creator/director midway through production, probably again because of DISNEY’s fears that the movie might not appeal enough to boys (which, in their eyes, is why the Princess and the Frog under-performed). Pixar seems to have been taken over by the money people.

      • Claudia

        You do know that John Lasseter was the one who came up with the story for Cars 2, right?

        Look, no doubt Disney wanted to make more profit from Cars, but they never forced this on Pixar, remember how they’re always saying they’ll only make a sequel if they have a good idea? These are the people who stepped up to the plate when Disney was going to make a DTV sequel of Toy Story. So no, they weren’t forced, Pixar chose to do this movie, and if it fails critically -there’s no way it’ll bomb at the box office- they’re the ones who’re gonna get the blame.

        And if you think the Pixar guys don’t complain about that sort of stuff, back when Ratatouille was out, there was an article on Jim Hill Media saying they were throwing a fit because the movie didn’t perform as expected in the box office, and esentially blamed the Disney marketing guys for not making the proper publicity for theur movie.

      • Well… Pixar wasn’t owned by Disney back when Toy Story 2 was being produced as a DTV film. And the film was always in production at Pixar, though in a separate division from the ‘Bug’s Life crew’. (This division was done away with when John lasseter and his main team stepped in to revise the film.) As far I understand, Disney wanted Pixar to just release the film as it was, but because Pixar was still its own studio, they nevertheless had the rights to revise it. The distribution deal with Disney did stipulate that they deliver the film within a set date, but aside from that, creative decisions were Pixar’s own.

        But now… well, it just seems different. Now, Pixar is owned by Disney, and no longer the independent studio that it actually was until 2006. For one thing, the money to finance each new Pixar film now comes exclusively from Disney. Don’t you think that has at least SOME effect as to what films get greenlit? That, even though more experimental ideas might still make the cut, the ideas that Disney’s money people like the best are the ideas that have the biggest chance of getting developed and produced?

        This is all a theory, of course. I don’t know any of this for sure, and it’s hard to say if we ever will know. Because, even if it is true, you can bet the Pixar folks will keep on forever saying that they only do sequels if they have a good idea. Wouldn’t want to ruin their artistic reputation, you know. But: Pixar’s creative course seems to have changed radically over these past few years, which – surprice, surprice – coincides with the years Pixar has been owned by Disney. So it’s hard not to start speculating…

  • John L.

    I will not judge a studio who made tons of stuff I love because they make something I dislike once in a while. This might be shocking to some but guess what: Money is why studios make films. That’s how the business works so get used to it and stop complaining.

    I don’t think I will like cars2 so I won’t watch it -simple. I don’t think pixar ‘sold out’ they’ve been making commercially successful films for ages so if anything they’ve sold out already. I didn’t mind it then and I do not mind it now.

    100% agree with what John S says

    • So… simply because your creation makes good money, it automatically means that you’re ‘selling out’? If that’s the case, I guess Walt Disney had sold out as early as 1928, when Steambot Willie was released. Heck, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is probably the biggest sellout of a movie there ever was!

  • Courage, A Cowardly Dog

    I mean, if anyone deserves to sell out once in a while isn’t it the company who released a kids film with a ten minute introduction about the quiet sorrrow and dissapointment of aging? Or the one who ended a franchise with its protagonists silently accepting death and the change that sneaks into your life? In light of all that, who cares if they drew eyes on a toy car. Hell, if I was a kid I’d love it.

  • dbenson

    Most eccentric tie-in is Kimberly Clark, manufacturer of personal hygiene products:

    Have fun brainstorming a better slogan that doesn’t involve the term “skid marks.”

  • Kinda pissed how they spread the toy line-up so much. I wish they had at least kept the lenticular eye toys consistent. Instead they mixed it up and made collecting futile. Should I get the one that talks, the one that’s 10% bigger, or the one that doesn’t have eyes that shift? The original Star Wars toys were cool because they were all one big consistent line. Oops! Is my nerd showing?

  • wgan

    it just proves again that brewers dont matter, what matters is the kids and the ones buy them a ticket and toy, you catch the kids, you’ve got the business, and is all that simple

  • Ethan

    None of that money goes back to the artists… I get it that they are paid with the “prestige” of working for pixar, but I can’t see the prestige of working on one of the worst reviewed animated film of the year. They canceled Newt and put all their efforts on Cars 2 this year. Makes me wonder what Newt could have been.

  • JBS

    “* Disney Consumer Products initially wondered what everyday products for boys could be branded with Cars before they realized, “All of them,” in the words of division chairman Andy Mooney.”

    I assume the room gave Mooney an ovation when he said this.

  • tonma

    wouldn’t it be cheaper to put windshield-eyes stickers on any vehicle toy kids already have? you could give them away for halloween….

    • scribble scribble…what a great idea! I’m gonna SELL them outside of theaters!!
      “GEt your eyeball stickers! EVERY car is a CARS car with eyeball stickers! 3 sizes, hotwheels, Ertl Replica and Tonka! Get ’em while they last!!!”

      • tonma

        HAHA! I’ll be in the stand right next to you and I’m including a chunk of crayon to draw the friggin’ mouth. :D

  • Mic

    What we lose now… is the trust that many have towards PIXAR though.

    It used to be… oh… it’s a Pixar’s film! It’s gonna be great. Let’s go see it!!!

    Now it’s like… oh.. a Pixar’s film. I’ll go see it for sure if I have time. And it’d better be good this time.

  • Azz

    As long as they use this money to branch out and take risks I dont mind.

  • Heh, so much for being above it all. They are a business after all, gotta make money somehow. Makes me glad my younger relations are either too old or waaaay too young for this stuff to qualify as present fodder come Christmastime.

  • Toonio

    Behold the destructive power of a soulless corporation that hides behind the skirt of mighty Pixar.

  • 2011 Adult

    Now the tomato-“mater” at that site gives the movie a 43%.

    It’s finally happening…

  • cijfer

    Disney makes about 25 billion dollar on their 5 most popular franchises? A year?!?

    They could show their movies for free, like the commercials they are. Yet people even pay them for that!

    That’s quite a great business model they’ve got.

  • Oh, yes… Most of this stuff is done on non ecological material, polluting all kind of resources to be produced, become non-recyclable rubbish in a few years or even months. I will not be surprised that among this s…tuff… there is also toys that need batteries to work.
    Of course we are only talking about the stuff in itself and not discussing the consume fever that will be part of the children behavior psychology for the rest of their (your) life.
    And we are not mentioning that some industries are making the stuff in the third world, using cheap workers, some of them… children!
    But no problem, it is just a matter of make films with ecological messages, love Nature, circle of life, little robots with green messages, etc, etc.
    And the world is saved.

    • I agree (mostly). I’m actually one who appreciates a good toy-call it nostalgia. But, why are the diecast cars in the Disney stores each encased in a plastic capsule and screwed into a base plate-some have demo wiring that needs to be removed-ridiculous little expensive battery stacks to emit the lights-all of which discarded. I’m actually shocked that they were so ass-backwards with much of the packaging. At least get that right Lasseter.

  • Was My Face Red

    When the Pochohontas ‘Spirit Of The Forest’ show closed at Disney they tore up the trees they’d planted especially for it and woodchipped them to make sawdust to soak up children’s vomit. Nothing has cahnged really. We all just belived it had for a little while.

  • Mister Twister

    Someone needs to create a Cars 2 hate group or something.

    This movie needs to be stopped before it’s released! >:(

  • TsimoneTseTse

    I can’t wait, my kids can’t wait, Heck I think I’ll invite the whole dang city just to spite you.

  • Tyron johnson

    Here’s something I don’t understand. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong. Doesn’t Disney get most, if not all of the merchandise profits? If that’s true, why make the Cars sequel? Isn’t Cars Pixars lowest performer at the box office outside of their first three films? If Disney is getting most, if not all the profits, could it be that it’s not true what the folks at Pixar say when they say that Disney doesn’t force them to do anything?

    • If you had a little boy you’d get it. They are eating up the merch-and the movie like crazy…of course dads don’t help. It has nothing to do with the story. A great story doesn’t necessarily drive merchandise sales.

  • I’d like to comment on the level of ownership so many folks seem to think they have over the Pixar brand.
    The level of haught you fellows seem to have about the perceived importance/relevance/integrity of this film is fanatical.
    And the those angrily shitting over John Lasseter.
    Where the hell does this come from?
    Here’s the thing.
    Pixar does not make films for you guys.
    Pixar are making films to make money.
    They are lucky that they have managed to make films that folks generally think are of a higher standard than other animated fare, but they are still making blockbuster commercial content.

    (Full disclosure. I don’t especially love many Pixar films and I think Cars is one of their best in recent years).

  • Nightmare Is Near

    You wouldn’t believe all the “Cars 2” toys they got planned to release next year from Mattel, these include diffrent versions of Mater including “Kabuki Mater” and “Taco Truck Mater”.