Pixar might not want to celebrate Cars 3’s opening performance just yet.
Pixar’s Cars series often gets panned for being a cynical cash-in designed to sell toys, but we’ve been cautiously optimistic about Cars 3. While Cars 2 was criticized for its spy theme and promoting the bumbling Mater tow-truck to a main character, Cars 3 is bringing the series back to its racing roots and puts Lightning McQueen at the forefront. The film opened in US cinemas last week and raced straight to the number one spot at the box office. Impressively, it even managed to overtake DC Comics' Wonder Woman.
Pixar probably won’t be celebrating Cars 3’s performance just yet, though. Box Office Mojo reports that Cars 3 made $53.5 million in the US and Canada, and while we never expected the animation film to smash box office records like Fate of the Furious did, it’s a low point for Pixar. The original Cars movie opened to $60 million when it was released in 2006, and even Cars 2, often considered Pixar’s worst movie, made $66 million. Out of the 18 Pixar movies that have been released over the years, only four made less than Cars 3, though that does include Toy Story and A Bug’s Life when adjusted for inflation. Internationally, Cars 3 raked in an estimated $21.3 million from markets including Russia and Mexico.
It’s worth noting that the film hasn’t been released in several territories yet. Cars 3 will be racing into cinemas in Australia and New Zealand next week, but it won’t open in the UK and Japan until mid-July, while France, Italy and Germany won’t get to see Cars 3 until August and September. Cars 3 is arguably the Pixar sequel no one asked for and Cars 2 is still lingering in people's memories, which may explain why it failed to surpass its predecessors. Still, it probably won’t be a cause for concern for Pixar. Where the series really rakes in the money is in merchandising sales. Case in point: in 2011, it was reported that the Cars franchise had made $10 billion worldwide in merchandising alone.