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Weekend Box Office: Cars 2 Beats Critic Brickbats and Cars with $68 Million; Diaz Opens Bad Teacher

Thompson on Hollywood By Anthony D'Alessandro | Thompson on Hollywood June 26, 2011 at 5:11AM

While Disney/Pixar's Cars 2 suffered the worst reviews of any of Pixar's past 11 blockbusters, the John Lasseter-helmed sequel still scored with mainstream audiences, reports Anthony D'Alessandro.Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2 popped the clutch into fifth and ran over its muddy estimates and critical reviews with an estimated weekend of $68 million at 4,115 theaters; 61% were equipped in 3-D. No doubt Disney executives are overjoyed, but no one can be happier than box office rebound girl Cameron Diaz, whose sex pot comedy Bad Teacher collected $31 million. Even more mouth-dropping than Diaz’s raunchy hijinks in the film was that it was made for the same price as her Charlie’s Angels 2 paycheck -- $20 million.
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Thompson on Hollywood

While Disney/Pixar's Cars 2 suffered the worst reviews of any of Pixar's past 11 blockbusters, the John Lasseter-helmed sequel still scored with mainstream audiences, reports Anthony D'Alessandro.

Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2 popped the clutch into fifth and ran over its muddy estimates and critical reviews with an estimated weekend of $68 million at 4,115 theaters; 61% were equipped in 3-D. No doubt Disney executives are overjoyed, but no one can be happier than box office rebound girl Cameron Diaz, whose sex pot comedy Bad Teacher collected $31 million. Even more mouth-dropping than Diaz’s raunchy hijinks in the film was that it was made for the same price as her Charlie’s Angels 2 paycheck -- $20 million.

Why was Cars 2 tracking low at $50-$55 million? Simply put, kids under 12 are hard to gauge; the best indicator that the movie trackers have at their disposal are adults. “It shows how brilliant the marketing geniuses are at Disney, because all that tracking was wrong," beamed Disney distribution chief Chuck Viane. “They knew how to bring them in, the public votes and they’re the only ones who came.”

The A- Cinemascore provided ample gas for Cars 2 throughout the weekend, even though its ticket sales fell 10% on Saturday. No bother; animated multiples are high and the summer season is a daily business for the studios as opposed to weekends. Cars 2 bested the $60.1 million bow of its 2006 first chapter, saving an immense amount of face for Disney-Pixar. Anything less would have splattered more grease on to the brand, especially after critics’ road-blocked Cars 2 at 33% rotten.

Not to mention, the other majors don't want to see Cars 2 fail, because it was plastered across some 300 merchandising tie-ins, from a NASCAR Daytona 500 spot to 1.2 million boxes of Kleenexes. A Disney-Pixar misfire would be akin to a blue-chip stock tanking, striking a body blow to the industry’s summer momentum. Cars 2's print campaign included a cool series of vintage style Formula One Grand Prix posters, advertising each foreign setting of the film, displayed across malls, tipping its hat to those raceway posters hanging at Disney World’s Tommorrowland Speedway.

3-D only repped 40% of Cars 2's B.O., a share that Viane attributes to “every small town in American not having 3-D” given the toon’s wide release. Only 2 out of 100 drive-ins have 3-D stateside. Predictably, dads flocked to Cars 2, which played 53% male as well as young guys, 56% were under the age of 25 and 36% under the age of 12. Overall Cinemascore was A- for Cars 2, while those who caught it in 3-D ranked it higher with an A.

Actresses have it the worst in Hollywood. As they near 40, fame can fade as younger actresses move up. Clearly, audiences like Diaz's move to raunchy comedy following the horrendous solo horror thriller The Box ($15.1 million), the melodramatic also-ran My Sister’s Keeper ($49.2 million) and the Tom Cruise fumble Knight & Day ($76.4 million). While the industry labels Angelina Jolie the only actress who can open a film, Bad Teacher’s bow is just a few inches short of Salt’s $36 million. Even if the comedy falls short of $100 million with its C+ Cinemascore, it clearly proves that Diaz can open a film on her own, evident in how Sony’s campaign focused squarely on her sans her male co-stars Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel. As Bridesmaids proves, audiences are eating up bad-girl comediennes. Like Diaz, who sheds her goofy, leggy image here, Jennifer Aniston is peeling away her girl-next-door persona next month in Warner Bros./New Line’s Horrible Bosses. Bad Teacher skewed 63% female and 57% 25 and over.

Warner Bros.' Green Lantern fell 65%, a figure that's not as bad as The Hulk's 70% drop in 2003. Midnight in Paris continues to wow with an 8% dip overtaking Kung Fu Panda during the weekend. It's Woody Allen's biggest hit since 1986's Hannah and Her Sisters. IndieWIRE reports on the indie box office. Overall receipts are estimated at $177 million-plus, a 7% uptick over the same frame a year ago.

Here's the top ten box office chart:


1. Car 2 (Disney) $68 million in its first weekend at 4,115 theaters. $16,525 theater average. Domestic total: $68 million.

2. Bad Teacher (Sony) $31 million in its first weekend at 3,049 theaters. $10,167 theater average. Domestic total: $31 million.

3. Green Lantern (Warner Bros.) $18.4 million down 65% in its second weekend at 3,816 theaters. $4,809 theater average. Domestic total: $89.3 million.

4. Super 8 (Paramount) $12.1 million down 44% in its third weekend at 3,424 theaters. $3,534 theater average. Domestic total: $95.2 million.

5. Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Fox) $10.3 million down 44% in its second weekend at 3,342 theaters. $3,082 theater average. Domestic total: $39.4 million.

6. X-Men: First Class (Fox) $6.6 million down 45% in its fourth weekend at 2,633 theaters. $2,507 theater average. Domestic total: $132.8 million.

7. The Hangover Part II (Warner Bros.) $5.87 million down 42% in its fifth weekend at 2,755 theaters. $ 2,129 theater average. Domestic total: $243.9 million.

8. Bridesmaids (Universal) $5.37 million down 24% in its seventh weekend at 2,031 theaters. $2,645 theater average. Domestic total: $146.7 million.

9. Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics) $4.48 million down 8% in its sixth weekend at 951 theaters. $4,712 theater average. Domestic total: $28.6 million.

10. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney) $4.7 million down 29% in its sixth weekend at 2,244 theaters. $2,095 theater average. Domestic total: $229.1 million.


This article is related to: Box Office, Genres, Marketing, Exhibition, Summer, Sequel, comedy, Animation, 3D


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.