Weekend Box Office – CARS 2 Scores $68 Million Win; BAD TEACHER Overachieves with $31 Million

     June 26, 2011

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After posting a strong start on Friday, Cars 2 went on to finish the weekend with an estimated $68 million from its 4,115 locations.  That was more than double what its closest competitor, Bad Teacher, took in; but not quite enough to get the sequel higher than fifth place on the list of All-Time Pixar Studio champions.

Title Weekend Total
1 Cars 2 $68,000,000 $68
2 Bad Teacher $31,000,000 $31
3 Green Lantern $18,350,000 $89.3
4 Super 8 $12,100,000 $95.1
5 Mr. Popper’s Penguins $10,300,000 $39.4
6 X-Men: First Class $6,600,000 $132.8
7 The Hangover Part II $5,865,000 $232.9
8 Bridesmaids $5,372,000 $146.6
9 Pirates of the Caribbean 4 $4,700,000 $229
10 Midnight in Paris $4,480,000 $28.5

cars-2-movie-poster-cast-01Despite comically low early expectations for Cars 2 ($40-$50 million), Disney/Pixar Studios’ first non-Toy related sequel easily charged off with a first day total that eclipsed all of the previous Pixar titles apart from Toy Story 3.  All it had to do was follow the traditional kiddie-film formula with a bump in attendance on Saturday and Cars 2 should have been able to accelerate to over $70 million for the weekend – right where past Pixar leaders like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles crossed their own three-day finish lines.  Instead, Mater and McQueen lost some speed on Day Two (down 9.3%) and ended up in the middle of the Pixar pack, ahead of Wall-E and Cars but behind Up.  Naturally, all of the studio’s titles trail last year’s Toy Story 3, which also fell off by almost 10% on its second day; but with a final count of $110.3 million, no one much noticed the decline.

Pixar had two other noticeable declines to deal with in Cars 2: one which surely impacted the film’s first weekend estimate and another which probably didn’t.  First, Cars 2 is just the latest in a string of 2011 titles released in 3D to post diminishing returns for the higher-priced format.  With 60% of its theatres offering Cars 2 in 3D, Box Office Mojo estimates that about 40% of the film’s final estimate will come from its extra dimension.  Compare that to May 2009, when just 40% of theatres featured Pixar’s Up in 3D but the format accounted for 52% of the film’s weekend debut, and you can see why purveyors of the technology have been freaking out of late.

The second, more precipitous, drop facing Cars 2 is the sequel’s perceived dip in quality.  Far from the 97% Fresh that Toy Story 3 rated on Rotten Tomatoes, Pixar’s critical love fest hit a speed bump with their latest release.  The first Cars was already pretty low on most adult’s Pixar list – though at 74% Fresh it is still several laps ahead of its successor’s current 33% rating.  Normally a bad review would equal poor word of mouth for a major release but I’m not sure that logic applies for a kiddie crowd-pleaser like Cars 2.  The fact is that kids (especially boys) always loved Cars; and with schools out and summer presenting few kid-pic options, I would expect Cars 2 to put up strong mid-week numbers – especially for those too young to be seduced by Transformers 3.

cameron-diaz-bad-teacher-movie-image-2Here’s a good indicator of how poor the reviews have been for Cars 2Bad Teacher is currently running thirteen points ahead of the film on Rotten Tomatoes.  A Cameron Diaz movie!  Ahead of a Pixar title!  Sony should totally find a way to get that into their TV spots.  This week’s second major release exceeded all expectations by taking in an estimated $31 million from 3,049 locations.  That is significantly above the film’s early projections of under $20 million and even more than the $25 million anticipated after Friday’s figures were reported.  Bad Teacher’s performance is even more impressive considering the film has a budget reported to be about $20 million.  Considering that this week last year saw Diaz in the disappointing Knight and Day ($20.1 million first weekend/$117 million budget) this is already looking like a big hit for all parties involved.

No such luck for Green Lantern.  After dropping a giant 71% from its first to second Friday, the Warner Brothers/DC superhero declined an estimated 65% this weekend to claim third place with $18.4 million.  Even worse, international figures have been unusually low for Green Lantern, with current reports crediting just 17.5% of the film’s worldwide total of $93.2 million to overseas attendance.  After a comparable ten day period, Thor – this summer’s other “lesser” superhero title – had already brought in almost $120 million in domestic ticket sales and a nearly equivalent amount overseas.

Overall this weekend managed to put the box office back into the plus column by 9% over last year when Toy Story 3 enjoyed its second weekend at number one.  Next weekend we’ll see another increase with the release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  Of course, TF3 is actually going wide on Wednesday (Tuesday night will see its 3D and IMAX debuts) which means that many fans will have caught the film before the weekend but, considering that the last Transformers brought in $62 million on its first day in 2009 (a Wednesday) I’m sure the new film’s weekend total will eclipse the $64.8 million of 2010’s winner: Eclipse.

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