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“Cars 2” Runs Out of Gas In Its Third Weekend

Cars 2

Last weekend, Cars 2 grossed $15.2 million boosting its total to $148.8 million. The film is currently on a pace to be one of Pixar’s lowest grossing films, and it will almost certainly be the studio’s least-attended film ever in the United States. Cars 2 is performing better overseas than its predecessor with $121.6 million to date, breaking Disney’s opening record in Argentina with $3.3 million and accruing $21.1 million to date in Mexico.

The film appears to be following a similar trajectory to a recent sequel from another studio, Kung Fu Panda 2, which also failed to meet US expectations but performed respectably overseas. Kung Fu Panda 2 has brought in just $159.3 million in the US after eight weekends, which puts it in the range of Shark Tale‘s 2004 gross. The $400 million from overseas softens the blow, but the message is clear: 3-D or not, audiences in the US are tired of animated sequels that don’t have anything new to offer. That may not be good news for Happy Feet 2 which opens in a few months.

  • Wasn’t this film profitable before it premiered, due to toy licenses?

  • YouFloob

    This is the first PIXAR film I didn’t see when it opened in theaters. I may still buy the Blu-Ray however!

  • This just popped up on YouTube:
    A Day In The Life of John Lasseter
    25 minutes.

    • Chuck P.

      Cars 2 co-director Brad Lewis is very noticeably absent from this video.

      • Amy


  • I actually found Kung Fu Panda 2 to be very enjoyable. Emotionally engaging as well as pure fun. Certainly one of Dreamworks’ best sequels.

    When it somes to Cars, though… I’m not even sure I’m gonna see it in a theater.

    • Agreed. KFP 2 expanded the world, developed the characters and was greater in scale and scope than the first movie, a respectable sequel.

      • oh.. i meant Kung Fu Panda 2

    • David

      I agree, also Re: KFP2, I’m not sure why a nearly $600M worldwide gross is now somehow considered a box office failure…

  • Bob Funn

    Thanks for letting us know that we should think these films have nothing to offer.

  • Dana B

    I hate to say I was never really excited for Cars 2, seeing that it’s from Pixar. This is the first Pixar film that I might not end up seeing in theaters( I did this with WALL-E and still regret it to this day). I am *very* excited for Brave, however.

    I didn’t see KP2 either, but it sucks that it disappointed here in the U.S. since I heard excellent things about it. It makes me wonder if audiences avoid DW films or their marketing is horrid. Then again Hangover 2 kinda screwed it over. And if U.S. audiences are tired of sequels, I wonder how they’ll react to spin-offs(i.e. Puss in Boots)?

    • tom

      KFP2’s marketing was pretty terrible, at least here in the UK. That advert which was just an extreme close up of Po, was quite amusing the first time, but got awkward very quickly and didn’t even show teasers clips of the film, no hint at story or anything.

  • blink

    does no one take into account the fact that the US is still very much in the throws of the global financial crisis.

    • Contrariwise

      didn’t stop Toy Story 3 from making $1,063,171,911 last year.

      • Wile F. Coyote

        And the rest of the globe is the throws of that global crisis too.

      • JJ

        Yeah. Cars 2’s problem is the economy.

        There have been massively successful movies already this year (Transformers 3 at $273 mil so far, Hangover 2 at $251, PotC 4 at $236), and since the recession started in 2008 we’ve seen some of the highest grossing films of all time (Toy Story 3 at $415 mil, Dark Knight at $533 mil, and Avatar at $760 mil). You can’t really blame poor performance on the economy because if people are interested, they CLEARLY will shell out their money to see a flick.

        At most you can say that people are less eager to throw their money at movies that look crappy, which you can blame on bad marketing (Panda 2) or a dumb looking concept (Cars 2).

    • blink
    • blink

      last year 3D was at it’s peak

  • Happy Days

    This says it all:

    • HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!! So true!

      Looks like BRAVE will be Pixar’s redemption for this film!

  • Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    The film’s a commercial for some toys. Buy the BluRay and you’ll contribute to the success of he commercial. Get it from NetFlix if you want to see it.

  • Jason

    Anything to stop this Cars2 nightmare.

  • Ed Thompson

    I did not see either the original Kung Fu Panda or Cars. I saw both of the sequels, however. I enjoyed KFP2, and was bored by Cars 2. Cars seemed to be aimed at little kids, with Mater being the central figure and the cluelessness of the other characters around him. There just wasn’t much for someone older than 10 in the movie unless they were very non-critical.

    From what I have been told, Kung Fu Panda 2 was not simply a remake of 1. The main character changed and developed during the film, and other characters actually reacted to those changes. It wasn’t a great film, but it was many times more entertaining than Cars 2. And to be blunt, I didn’t think the Toy Story short was anything to write home about either.

    Pixar needs to go back to their ‘No Sequel’ days. Dollar signs started creeping in with Toy Story 3, and with Monsters 2 and Toy Story 4 on the horizon it may be taking a fatal hold on what was once a story driven company.

  • wgan

    adults dont enjoy it
    kids dont understand it
    brewers dislike it
    but the rest of the world will still be buying the toys
    that’s about it

  • I saw Cars2 and KFP2 in theaters. People who know me, know I’m a huge Pixar and John Lasseter fan. Yet I liked the Dreamworks film better. Nobody can have a prefect record; it’s good to know Pixar is human (as human as a company can be). And I’m looking forward to Brave.

  • Wile F. Coyote

    Pretty. Witty? Phut-Phut.

  • Law

    As much as I love our industry in the end it’s a business. Now and again we are reminded of that T_T

  • Toonio

    Cue the trombone, Wah wah…

    Now seriously, hope this humble pie just gets the top brass @ Pixar back to the humble, family like working environment of the Toy Story 1 days. Most importantly, to share the accomplishments.

    To sustain my point on the working environment @ Pixar read the body languages of everybody in Pixar in the “a day in the life of John Lasseter” video. Particularly pay attention to the buffer zone between Lasseter and everybody else.

    I might be dead wrong but the clues are there.

  • ferp

    Cars only did $300 million?? Those are Princess and the Frog numbers! You know what this means. CANCEL 3D ANIMATION!!

    • eeteed

      i wish.

  • Me and my family went to see Cars2..My kids who are 7 and 4 chuckled a couple of times… Overall though It was tooo much of everything… and all the messages were too much for me… capitalism, environmentalism, friendship, treachery, and espionage, and racing, and yadda, yadda, yadda… For me the first Cars is still watchable… Even Mater’s Tall Tales in my mind surpasses the drawn out Cars2… I’m just sayin..

  • This really should be a warning for Pixar’s sequelitis. They’re about to fall into the same trap that Disney fell into.

    • And DreamWorks. Remember Jeffrey Katzenberg started that sickness at Disney.

  • Robert Fiore

    I saw Cars 2 last week and I was literally the only person in the theater. It was a 6:00 show on a Thursday, but still.

  • E. Nygma

    These lower Disney/Pixar sales won’t mean anything to them. The merch sells and other studios made sequels for “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, “Hoodwinked”, “Garfield” and so on. Everything get’s a sequel these days…actually everything is a trilogy these days, so count on “Cars 3”, just hopefully not for a long time.

    And bring back “Newt” for heavens sake!!! The concept art made it look like the most inspired movie since “Nemo”. Lasseter is turning into a big fat wierdo that is going to sink his company into mediocrity! “Newt” had story problems, but they release a crappy film like Cars 2? Unbelievable!

    I get so mad at these guys sometimes. They have the ability to do great things and lately they just wiz it away!

  • Vic

    I just wonder about the wisdom of releasing that day in the life piece right now. If the buzz is that you are losing touch with your audience, do you really want to show off your palatial house, personal trainer, driver and oddly awkward hug filled workday? It all seemed to reinforce the cult vibe. I think he’s is a true genius, but this is a portrait of a guy that is insulated and spread too thin. I found it weirdly sad. He’s a god of merchandise now. And that never seems to work out well for gifted filmmakers. For example, look no further that Star Wars 1, 2, 3.

    • Well Said

      I thought it wouldn’t be possible to say anything even remotely critical in regards to that “A Day in the Life of John Lasseter” video without it somehow sounding snarky.

      You have proven me wrong in that assumption.

      I agree with a lot of what you’ve said & how you’ve respectfully gone about saying it. Thumbs up.

      • dbenson

        Suddenly have an idea for a remake of Preston Sturges’ “Sullivan’s Travels” . . .

  • Mari Gothade

    I disagree strongly with the implication that Kung Fu Panda 2 was an animated sequel that offered nothing new. I felt Kung Fu Panda 2 was an even better sequel that expanded on the original and explored the main character in a much closer antagonistic relationship with the villain, who was also a very different sort and dark parallel to the first movie’s villain. And it was a visual treat, I felt it had its own visual improvements in animation (just see the villain move and fight!) and lighting (the play between light and shadow, the intensity of color) and–well, back to animation, look at the opening. Kung Fu Panda 2’s opening was an amazing parallel to the first and still amazed me, with its shadow puppet play style, something I have never really seen before ever, let alone in a major theatrical animated feature film. And I don’t believe any themes were repeated, the second having a message different than the first.

    If anything, I would suggest U.S. viewers are missing out, in comparison to overseas countries that seem to have rightly better appreciated the movie.

    But that’s my opinion on Kung Fu Panda 2, a movie and a sequel I intensely enjoy and eagerly anticipate its DVD-Bluray release.

    I can’t say anything on Cars 2, as I have not seen it.

  • Scarabim

    Kung Fu Panda 2 didn’t answer the question audiences were REALLY asking – what happened to Tai Lung? Myself, I couldn’t care less about the Panda’s origins. But the movie was visually spectacular, I’ll give it that.

    Haven’t seen Cars 2, and don’t plan to.

    • tom

      Tai Lung died in the first movie.

      • Lilo

        Doubt it. Po only said that he DEFEATED Tai Lung, not killed him. Considering that Katzenburg said there were going to be a total of six KFP movies it’s practically certain that he is alive.

  • Charles

    Lol, kid movies.

  • John A

    I don’t waste my time counting other people’s money, but the way I see it , if a production brings in more money than it costs to make, it was a success. Not every movie is going to bring in “Finding Nemo” style returns,nor should they realistically expect it from every single film. Every film should be a new experience, free to rise or fall on its own. I didn’t see Cars2, but apparently PIXAR managed to make what most would consider a tidy profit, even without my help.

  • I can’t say I’m surprised that Cars 2 is tanking already… I saw it opening weekend with my wife and kids, and I was spectacularly unimpressed. I didn’t find a single laugh in the entire movie, and the Toy Story short that ran in front of it was much better in terms of story, characterization, and laughs.

    When I heard that Cars 2 was being made, I pretty much wondered what the they could do next, as Lightning McQueen’s big story had been told… I guess someone figured it was Mater’s turn. Has there been a sequel made before that used the same titling like this where a different character got the lead role?

  • cjseaton

    As we watched Cars 2, I think my wife, my daughter and I were the only people who laughed out loud during the length of the entire movie. I read a lot of horrible reviews before I went so I actually set my expectations lower than normal for a Pixar film. I’d have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it really was to watch. I think too many people are expecting too much from a Pixar film after the emotional ending for Toy Story 3. Can’t an audience just have fun and enjoy some good entertainment? Pixar doesn’t have to make a socially relevant or emotionally deep (Grand Canyon deep) picture every time. Give ’em a break for wanting to make something fun like a great roller coaster ride.

    • I agree with you on that 100%, however, I think there was a nice satirical tone in Cars 2 that nobody ever seems to talk about. (I think mainly because “nobody” saw it) The whole giant oil company scandal was SUCH a great part of the story. To me, it’s the equivalent of what Wall-E was trying to blatantly tell us about the way we’re living on this world. I don’t understand why nobody talks about the actual story behind all the goofy Mater bits, because there IS one there.

  • I don’t think there was EVER any hope of “good news” for Happy Feet 2.

    • Joel O’Brien

      There IS good news about “Happy Feet 2″…there will be three new Warner Brothers cartoons with Mel Blanc’s sampled voice shown before HF2!

      • Brandon Pierce

        Actually, only “Daffy’s Rhapsody” is being shown in front of Happy Feet 2. The Tweety short, and the Road Runner short, will be played with other features.

  • Skeptical

    From Amid: “the message is clear: 3-D or not, audiences in the US are tired of animated sequels that don’t have anything new to offer.”

    I suppose if you have an agenda against sequels, and you do a selective reading of the box office, you could come to that conclusion. But if you look at ALL the major animated releases this year, you see that both Cars 2 and KFP 2 easily outperformed non-sequels Rango and Rio at the domestic box office, and are crushing them overseas. And blithely discounting KFP 2’s staggering overseas box office as “softening the blow” is just plain funny. The money that comes from around the world spends just the same, as I’m sure Jeffrey will tell you.

    Your “audiences don’t want to see animated sequels” conclusion also has to ignore the massive successes of Shrek 4 and Toy Story 3, which were both released recently.

    • Brandon Pierce

      Shrek 4 was not a success. Nor was Shrek 3.

      • Ethan

        Huh… Yes they were. They made 750M and 800M respectively, Shrek is the most successful animated film series of all time with a 3 billions total box office.

  • I thought Cars 2 was perfectly fun and enjoyable, but also skip-able.

    It’s not something you MUST see, but I enjoyed watching it and it doesn’t deserve some of the negative criticisms.

    Probably the story (=plot)in Cars 2 is more solid to the one in KFP2, though the visuals, characters and humor in KFP 2 are more interesting.Also there is something to be said about the KFP saga trying to combine different types of animation in the same film. That’s pretty great.

    Cars 2 was very good in its visuals but ultimately the cars characters are what they are, no matter how much they work on the rendering, shadows, colors or backgrounds.

    The plot and the intrigue were pretty well done but the relationship between the two main characters wasn’t especially interesting.

  • E. Nygma

    If anything I think they Should have gone with the “Little Yellow Car” Idea they originally had planned for the original “Cars” film. That at least sounded a little bit interesting. Lasseter killed that idea.

    I saw “Cars 2” with very low expectations. I figured I would walk out with only my love for the animation…but the animation wasn’t even enough to save it!

    If anything get the “Art of” book from Chronicle and skip the movie. If you are an animation fan…there is some beautiful art/designs in there at least.

  • Ethan

    Amid the bullshit*, I need to add a few things about Kung Fu Panda 2 to counter-balance, since it’s my favorite film of the year.

    570 millions so far with plenty of residual box office left, it’s projected by analysts to end above [b]650 millions[/b] after Japan and Italy come into play. Excluding the Shrek sequels, it’ll be the most successful Dreamworks film in history, and among the top ten animated films of all time. Using the most aggressive goal post, which was KFP1, it’s still a success. There’s no way to make anyone believe it’s anything but a major success now, no matter how hard Cartoon Brew have tried ever since the film came out.

    Oh! But it’s a sequel, we hate sequels. Well, the public loved it, the critics loved it, and it has some very good chances for the Oscars. The story structure has the qualities of a great trilogy, and that point is, so far, unique for an animated sequel. It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s the only animated film series which has it’s story and character arcs well planned across multiple films. For once, it’s the CORRECT way to make sequels. 2015 cannot come soon enough, but we’ll have plenty of non-sequels to see in the mean time.

    *Please note that I used the word amid as a preposition, not a person. What did you think I said? I wouldn’t dare!

  • Dave

    Agreed as to Kung Fu Panda 2. Visually stunning, and the characters were carried forward. Cautiously optimistic about the next one.

  • It was all about the toys. I liked the movie. I wanted to go back and see it on the BIG screen in 3D, but it’s been tough find the time. Meanwhile, it’s slowly slipping out the Exit door.

  • The Gee

    I still think 3D is going to perform the best when it is for a Big Event Movie, something that pushes the envelope and makes it an experience, or is just one many people are likely to see anyhow. The latter definitely includes sequels which “matter” and people feel the need to see.

    Cars 2, say unlike the much rumored last Toy Story, doesn’t really meet that criteria. Though I’m sure those who saw it, in general, liked it quite a bit. Even if it isn’t Great, it probably holds up as engaging for the audience, which isn’t likely to be comprised on nit-pickers, quibblers and such.

    But, as an Event Feature, nah. It is likely just entertaining, like most films, and that’s it.

  • Cars 2 wasn’t a bad movie. I definatly did not meet expectations though. My son was looking forward to this movei and I think we too was dissappionted. The first one was so much fun even if Owen Wilson is really annoying. We are going this weekend to see it in 3D which might make it alot better. I would hate to see this franchise wind up a dark Bugs Life death. Although A Bugs Life was a great movie just not a successful one.

  • Funkybat

    Cars 2 is a fun experience if you are;

    A: A fan of Cars 1, but wanted to see more of the “Cars Universe” and how it works

    B: A big fan of Mater and his antics

    C: Are an automotive geek who likes tons of in-jokes and obscure references to automotive history minutiae.

    I went in with diminished expectations due to all the negative hype, but in the end I was entertained, if not blown away. The car in-jokes made me laugh, and the visuals were pretty impressive. Lightning McQueen was much less annoying, and more relatable, than in the first film. Good acting, though it was noticeably lighter than any Pixar film I’ve ever seen. The larger themes of friendship and accepting others who don’t conform were well and good, but hardly as deeply resonant as what other Pixar films have dealt with. I think this is the first Pixar movie where I didn’t cry at all, (not that every film should have to make the audience cry!)

    I think if Pixar had done a movie like this as their 3rd or 4th film, they would have gotten a lot less flack than they are getting now that “everyone knows what a Pixar film is ‘supposed’ to be.” Disney has had masterpieces, and they’ve had movies that were just kind of fun romps with not a lot of “meaning” or heavy emotional beats. I think it’s fine if Pixar does some films with less pathos, but I would hope for a little better execution than Cars 2 had.