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‘Cars 2’ Wins the Race, But Not By A Landslide

The sequel to Pixar’s least-lauded franchise underperformed this weekend both critically and commercially. Cars 2 marked the first Pixar film in its brief history to score rotten on the Tomatometer. At 34% positive reviews, the animated children’s film was even less hailed than the R-rated comedy Bad Teacher, which received 46% positive reviews. Yet the “Cars” franchise is not a complete and utter failure. It placed in the number one spot at the box office with $68 million, standard compared to previous Pixar summer entries.

Last week, I said it would be difficult for Cars 2 to fail given school is out for the summer and it is a Pixar film after all. I guess I have to eat car crow. The original Cars had a $60 million debut without the help of 3D pricing back in 2006. Ouch, five years should count for something but inflation only affects prices, not attendance. One thing I got right is that with merchandizing deals, all of the effects artists, executives and producers can sleep well knowing their cash grab won over the masses despite poor quality and transparent motivations.  

Bad Teacher took second place with $31 million, a great start for both an R-rated and female-led comedy. Cameron Diaz has done better, however given the subgenre, this can be considered a hit among the ranks of Apatow’s lineup, Bridesmaids and The Hangover. Some people, well resident Player Affinity writer John Gilpatrick, thinks this may be Diaz’ year as it-girl, replacing Sandra Bullock’s sudden reemergence into the mainstream. I’m not so sure about that, but raunchy comedies are here to stay as long as a goodly few turn a decent profit. Listen to this week's forthcoming epsidoe of The Plot Hole, our weekly movie podcast, for more on that.

The Top Ten

1.  Cars 2 - $68.0M (weekend)…$68.0M (gross)
2.  Bad Teacher - $31.0M…$31.0M

3.  Green Lantern - $18.3M…$89.3M
4.  Super 8 - $12.1M…$95.1M
5.  Mr. Popper’s Penguins - $10.3M…$39.4M
6.  X-Men: First Class - $6.6M…$132.8M
7.  The Hangover Part II - $5.8M …$243.9M
8.  Bridesmaids - $5.3M…$146.6M
9.  Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - $4.7M…$229.0M
10. Midnight in Paris - $4.4M …$28.5M 

Last week’s entry, Green Lantern, picked up an additional $18.3 million and $16.3 million overseas to push it over the $100 million mark worldwide. Super 8 added $12.1 domestic and has $26.9 million internationally. The superhero’s fall was steep, but space aliens have staying power in this market. With Marvel and DC dropping out of Comic Con, and recent poor showings by Thor, Green Lantern, and “X-Men,” this may be the cooling off of the marginal superhero craze. Come on, it had to end sometime. Besides, that means nothing for well-established characters such as Spider-man, Superman, and Batman.

Speaking of “X-Men,” First Class received $6.6 million this weekend, but it is holding up nicely with $164.5 million in yen, Euros, and such. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the real miracle. After being a disappointment in the states, it picked up $742.9 million internationally. Thanks to the foreigners, we will be treated to a fifth, and perhaps final, entry. Proving people in other countries enjoy everything about our movies except our comedic taste, Bridesmaids and Bad Teacher have both made pebbles in the international market.


transformers I'd date either one of these robots

Out next weekend is Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third and supposedly final in Michael Bay’s trilogy. Paramount will release the 3-D event of 2011 in 3,900 IMAX, 2-D and regular 3-D screens across the country. The early buzz is positive, and the trailers are remarkable. This movie looks to return to what the fans want, robots fighting robots with humans staying out of the way as much as possible. The studio bumped the release from the traditional Friday up to Wednesday after early screenings were positive. Now sneak peaks are available in 3D on Tuesday for those who just cannot wait (like me).  

The original Transformers made $70 million in its first weekend and went on to earn $319 million domestic. “Revenge of the Fallen” the lambasted sequel, outdid that with $108.9 million at its debut and $402 million domestic at completion. This new movie will be the most successful of the franchise in the end thanks to premiums, but will still likely fall short of $100 million opening weekend. With good word of mouth and foreign dollars this movie will land easily on its feet with about $900 million worldwide by the close of release. 

For some odd reason, two comedies will also debut opposite the action flick. Larry Crowne, starring Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks, fits 2,750 screens while tween comedy Monte Carlo will hitch up to 2,400 locations. Counterprogramming has been an epic fail most weekends this summer and these two misplaced comedies are no exception. Hanks and Roberts have a better chance with audiences but will likely never hit $100 million by close. Monte Carlo, on the other hand, will drown from existence with little flailing. Tell us what you'll watch this weekend in the Player Affinity forums. Once more, can also check out more box office musings on the next episode of The Plot Hole, Player Affinity's movie podcast.


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