Hollywood Flashback: 'Cars' Lapped the Competition in 2006 and Won a Golden Globe

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Owen Wilson, the voice of Lighting McQueen, attended the world premiere of 'Cars' at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 26, 2006.

Pixar's seventh animated movie — which smoked the competition in its opening weekend but lost the animated feature Oscar to 'Happy Feet' — and its two sequels proved to be a multibillion-dollar merchandise juggernaut, raking in more than $8 billion by 2011.

While The Hollywood Reporter was happy enough with 2006's Cars as entertainment, it was positively ecstatic about Pixar's seventh film as a box office blockbuster. THR used phrases like "thoroughly pleasant," "terrific characters" and "crowd-pleasing storytelling" in its review.

However, in describing its June weekend opening, it used a front-page headline to announce that Cars had smoked the competition (bringing in $62.8 million, or $78 million in today's dollars) and praised it for entering that veritable god-realm of top animated openings of all time.

Then there were the toys: In 2011, THR reported that Cars and its two sequels were bringing in $2 billion annually in retail sales and had already generated more than $8 billion.

When awards season came around, the original Cars did decently but didn't reach the rarefied level of an animated film that receives a best picture Oscar nomination, the way that Beauty and the Beast did in 1991 or Toy Story 3 would do in 2010. The movie did land two noms, one for original song ("Our Town," written by Randy Newman and performed by James Taylor) and the other for best animated feature.

It didn't win either — Warner Bros.' Happy Feet prevailed in the latter category — but the story of anthropomorphic cars did have the honor of taking home the first Golden Globe ever given for animated feature.

This story first appeared in a December stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.