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'Cars 2' Director John Lasseter Defends Film, Says Sequel Wasn't About Merchandising

Cars 2
Walt Disney

Weeks before its release on DVD and Blu-ray, Pixar's chief creative officer speaks out on all of the criticism.

When Pixar Animation's Cars 2 arrived in theaters in June, it had the distinction of being the company's only critically maligned release to date.

Review aggregate sites Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes have the film ranked well below other Pixar efforts such as Ratatouille and Wall-E, which are among the most well-received movies of the past decade.

So with Cars 2 arriving on DVD and Blu-ray on Nov. 1, The New York Times spoke with film's director, Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter, who came to the its defense.

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"I reached deep into myself and saw what this film was about," he says," and I think it’s clear that audiences have responded. It’s is a very, very special film to me.”

Lasseter points to the film's $551 million international box office haul, which helped it out-gross its predecessor by 20 percent. But it's not all about the money. Lasseter also dismissed accusations the sequel was forced on Pixar by corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company, in an effort to further merchandise the franchise.

"It’s not true," he says. "It’s people who don’t know the facts, rushing to judge. I recognize my place in the Walt Disney Company, but my job, my focus, my deepest desire is to entertain people by making great movies, and we did that with Cars 2."

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Still, not all reviews for Cars 2 were negative.

The Hollywood Reporter's own Todd McCarthy gave it a positive review at the time. "Even as recent Pixar films have benefited from increased simplicity and modulation of mood and effect," he writes, "Lasseter keeps Cars 2 running at close to the red line from start to finish with nary a pit stop to refuel."

For his part, Lasseter wouldn't admit how much of the negative reviews he read.  “I typically don’t read the reviews,” he says. “I make movies for that little boy who loves the characters so much that he wants to pack his clothes in a Lightning McQueen suitcase.”