What the critics don’t know, John Lasseter understands.
The Disney/Pixar honcho’s “Cars 2” exceeded industry predictions, crossing the domestic-debut finish line with a $68-million weekend.
The undefeated Pixar is now 12-for-12, with every one of its feature films having won the opening weekend since 1995’s Lasseter-directed “Toy Story.”
Based on early critical drubbings, Hollywood prognosticators had said “Cars 2” would open in the $50-million to $55-mill range. So much for trying to outguess John Lasseter when assessing the public’s taste.
Mostly, he should know that after 16 years of building cinematic good-will with generations, Pixar stands for something that loyal fans appreciate. [For more on that, check out: “PIXAR PILE-UP: Is ‘Cars 2’ crashing into overheated expectations?”]
When final adjusted numbers are released Monday, “Cars 2” might even top Pixar’s beloved “Up,” which debuted with $68.1-million two years ago. The studio’s weekend record remains last year’s “Toy Story 3” and its $110-million domestic debut (“TS3” went on to gross more than a billion dollars globally).
The “Cars 2” opening allows Disney to leave the critics in the dust. Nearly 150 reviewers on RottenTomatoes.com cumulatively give “Cars” 2.0 a woefully low score of “33 percent” — a previously unheard-of figure for a Pixar release — and the public’s favorable rating was at 69 percent (not abysmal, but hardly Pixaresque).
Yet partly boosted by higher 3-D ticket prices, “Cars 2” had the fifth-biggest opening ever for a Pixar film and the fourth-biggest June opening ever for any film.
And who’s the record-holder in that latter category? “Toy Story 3,” natch.
Elsewhere, the debut of “Bad Teacher” grossed $31-million and Warner Bros./DC’s “Green Lantern” made nearly $18.4-million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Another superhero film, “X-Men: First Class,” was sixth ($ 6.6-million).
It was also a good weekend for Owen Wilson: Besides voicing star-car Lightning McQueen in “Cars 2,” he also stars in the critical darling “Midnight in Paris,” the Woody Allen film was 10th ($4.5-million) and has now grossed more than $50-million worldwide.