A $53.69 million box office debut is certainly respectable for Cars 3, the latest project from Disney and Pixar, that’s fair to say.
However, the release of the threequel also raises two questions. Namely, how does the opening compare to the first two Cars movies, and perhaps more importantly, how does it compare to the opening weekends of the other 17 movies that Disney and Pixar have turned out?
Firstly, if you don’t adjust the opening weekends for inflation, Cars 3 falls behind both the original Cars movie ($60.12 million) and the critically maligned sequel, Cars 2 ($66.14 million). Although Cars 2 opened stronger than the first film the franchise, Cars ended up in pole position when it came to final domestic box office whether you adjust the ticket sales for inflation or not.
In order to answer the second question, I’ve ranked the 18 Disney-Pixar releases to date by their opening weekends - all figures are for domestic box office take and are unadjusted for inflation. So far, they have collectively taken $4.56 billion at the domestic box office, unadjusted for inflation - that figure increases to $5.89 billion adjusted. What will probably strike you straight away is that two big movies are in 18th and 17th place, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2 respectively. The reason is they opened in just one movie theater and then went wide.
18. A Bug’s Life (Disney) 1998
Opening Weekend: $291,121
Final Box Office: $162.8 million
Inspired by Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper, production on A Bug's Life began not long after the release of Toy Story in 1995 and was Roddy McDowall's final role before his death. The film went on to inspire the theme park attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, It's Tough To Be A Bug.
17. Toy Story 2 (Disney) 1999
Opening Weekend: $300,163
Final Box Office: $245.9 million
Made in nine months and initially envisioned as a straight-to-video sequel, when story reels went down well, Disney upgraded Toy Story 2 to a full theatrical release. Pixar wasn't happy with the film so director John Lasseter and his team redeveloped the entire plot in one weekend. The whole film was turned around in nine months - they usually take two years.
16. Toy Story (Disney) 1995
Opening Weekend: $29.14 million
Final Box Office: $191.8 million
This was Pixar's first full-length feature having previously only turned out shorts. At the time Pixar was just a small company with a handful of employees and budgets were tight. The release, critical and commercial success of Toy Story changed everything.
15. The Good Dinosaur (Disney) 2015
Opening Weekend: $39.16 million
Final Box Office: $123.09 million
Set on a fictional Earth in which dinosaurs never became extinct, The Good Dinosaur grossed $332 million worldwide, making it Pixar's lowest-grossing film. Even though critics liked it, audiences failed to get onboard with the 3D animated adventure.
14. Ratatouille (Disney) 2007
Opening Weekend: $47.03 million
Final Box Office: $206.45 million
Ratatouille, directed by Brad Bird, grossed $620.7 million at the box office and received worldwide acclaim. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for four others including Michael Giacchino's first Oscar nomination for Best Original Score
13. Cars 3 (Disney) 2017
Opening Weekend: $53.69 million
Final Box Office: TBD
Projected to open with a domestic take of around $60 million, it debuted with $53.3 million but that was still enough for Cars 3 to take the top spot at the weekend's box office. The 16th Pixar film to debut at number one it was, however, the lowest opening tally of the Cars series.
12. Cars (Disney) 2006
Opening Weekend: $60.12 million
Final Box Office: $244.08 million
Cars opened to mostly positive reviews from critics and was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature. Merchandise based on the film broke records for retail sales of merchandise based on a Disney-Pixar film, bringing an estimated $10 billion for 5 years after the film's release.
11. Monsters Inc. (Disney) 2001
Opening Weekend: $62.58 million
Final Box Office: $255.87 million
John Goodman and Billy Crystal led the cast as top scarer Sully and his colleague Mike Wazowski as two monsters employed at the energy-producing factory, Monsters, Inc. - the help generate their city's power by scaring children. Originally released in 2D, Disney and Pixar re-released Monsters, Inc. in 3D a year later.
10. WALL-E (Disney) 2008
Opening Weekend: $63.09 million
Final Box Office: $223.81 million
Pixar's first animated film with segments featuring live-action characters, WALL-E was an instant smash hit, grossing $533.3 million worldwide over a $180 million budget, and getting almost unanimous acclaim from critics. It also went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, one of five things it was nominated for.
9. Cars 2 (Disney) 2011
Opening Weekend: $66.14 million
Final Box Office: $191.45 million
Cars was only the second Pixar film, after Toy Story, to have a sequel as well as becoming a franchise. However, on Rotten Tomatoes, Cars 2 has, based on 205 reviews, an approval rating of 39% making it the only Pixar film to be certified as "rotten".
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