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Box Office Report: 'Cars 2' Speeds to $68 Million, Beating Original Movie's Opening

Cars 2
Disney/Pixar

The Disney/Pixar sequel easily won domestic box office; Bad Teacher starring Cameron Diaz lands No. 2 spot with better than expected $31 Million.

Moviegoers fell hard for fast cars and fast women at the weekend box office, delivering big victories for Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2 and Sony’s risqué Cameron Diaz comedy Bad Teacher.

Cars 2 easily won the domestic box office race, grossing $68 million and far outpacing expectations, not to mention beating the $60.1 million debut of the original Cars. The $200 million 3D toon scored the fourth best opening of 2011, and delivers Pixar its 12th No. 1 opening.

Overseas, the Pixar sequel—set on foreign shores this time—displayed plenty of horsepower, grossing $42.9 million from 18 markets for a worldwide debut of $110.9 million.

Bad Teacher also overperformed in its domestic debut, grossing $31 million and continuing the R-rated comedy craze. The film, touting substantial star power in Diaz, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake, bested the $26.1 million debut of Universal’s Bridesmaids.

Produced for only $20 million, Bad Teacher earned another $12.9 million internationally for a pleasing global opening of $49.3 million. 

In North America, Bad Teacher beat superhero pic Green Lantern for the No. 2 spot. From Warner Bros., Green Lantern fell a steep 66% in its second weekend, grossing $18.4 million for a cume of $89.3 million.

Regardless of any weak spots, domestic box office revenues were up an estimated 10% over last year. And with Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 getting ready to launch, the lingering year-over-year decline in revenues should continue to narrow.

Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested an opening of $50 million to $55 million for Cars 2. Instead, the sequel—directed by Pixar CEO John Lasseter—secured the second-best June opening ever for animated film after Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3

“I think there is this wonderful aura that comes with Disney/Pixar movies. They play almost like fanboy pics. Everyone rushes out Friday to see them,” Disney worldwide president of distribution Chuck Viane said.

If there was a sour note, the downturn in the 3D market continued. Grosses from 3D theaters accounted for 40% of the toon’s total bow, the lowest margin to date for a big studio film. About 36% came from digital 3D screens; the other 4%, from Imax locations (Imax ponied up roughly $2.3 million).

Disney said a contributing factor is the popularity of Pixar titles—and Cars in particular—at drive-in theaters, which haven’t been converted to 3D. There are about 500 drive-ins nationwide.

Rival studios pointed out that Cars 2 dropped 10% from Friday to Saturday, suggesting that bad reviews, unusual for a Pixar title, may have had an impact. Disney said the drop had to do with the fact that most kids are out of school now, with Friday playing more like a Saturday. Opening on the same weekend last year, Toy Story 3 also dropped 10% on Saturday.

Those going to see Cars 2 seemed to have little complaint; the toon received an A- CinemaScore. 

At the international box office, Cars 2 grossed $9.3 million in Russia—a boom market for 3D—to grab the best debut ever for a Pixar title. In Australia, the toon grossed $5.2 million to best Kung Fu Panda 2 in a head-to-head battle.

Considering its production budget of $200 million, Cars 2 will need to amass a significant worldwide gross in the weeks to come.

Sony is already on golden ground financially with Bad Teacher.

Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested the subversive comedy would opening to around $20 million. The studio credited a great marketing and publicity campaign for the film’s unexpected strength, as well as the cast’s promotional efforts.

Moviegoers gave Bad Teacher only a C+, however. The comedy skewed older, with 57% of those buying tickets over the age of 25. Females made up the majority of the audience at 63%.

Bad Teacher is the third R-rated comedy to impress after The Hangover Part II and Bridesmaids

"Cameron really brought this home in a big way. She totally went for this role," Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer said. "To do more than $30 million is hitting it out of the park."

Coming in No. 4 at the domestic box office was Paramount's Super 8, which continued to hold in nicely, falling 43% to an estimated $12.1 million for a domestic cume of $95.2 million. Overseas, the J.J. Abrams pic has grossed $36 million, for a global total of $131.2 million.

Jim Carrey family film Mr. Popper's Penguins rounded out the top five, falling a slim 42% in its second weekend to an estimated $10.3 million for a cume of $39.4 million.

Other box office headlines included Woody Allen's crossover hit Midnight in Paris, which earned $4.5 million for the weekend, bringing its domestic cume to $28.6 million for Sony Pictures Classics.

And DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's Kung Fu Panda neared the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office, ending the weekend with a cume of $493 million. The 3D toon is particularly strong overseas, where it has earned $340 million.