Boffo debut expected for ‘Cars’
BURBANK – When it comes to striking gold at the box office, a Pixar Animation Studios movie is about as sure a thing as death, taxes and getting popcorn kernels stuck between your teeth. The latest Pixar title, “Cars,” opening in 3,800 locations in the United States and Canada today, carries with it some lofty expectations. All six previous Pixar movies have been major box-office hits, with 2003’s “Finding Nemo” the highest-grosser of them all at $339.7 million. Box-office analyst Robert Bucksbaum said this is one weekend when Pixar and its owner, The Walt Disney Co., which has distributed all of Pixar’s computer-generated animation films, can rest easy as they wait for box-office returns. “There is absolutely no such thing as a sure thing in the movie business, with the exception of Pixar,” said Bucksbaum, president of Reel Source Inc. “They focus on the right thing and that is the story. Their stories are just phenomenal and that’s what sells these days, not how much money it cost to make or the actors.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Bucksbaum expects “Cars” to open in the mid-$70 million range on its way to a final domestic gross of about $275 million. Featuring the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt and others, the film tells the story of a hotshot animated stock car that ends up stranded in a small town called Radiator Springs on his way to a big race. “Talking cars just seems like such a ridiculous theme, but the character development of each of these cars is so phenomenal,” said Bucksbaum. “I think even people with no interest in NASCAR or racing will want to see it.” The latest Pixar product comes at a good time for the movie industry, which is riding a streak of three consecutive weekends, and 10 of the last 11, when box office revenue has surpassed 2005 numbers. This weekend has “Cars” competing with a crowded menu at the multiplex that also includes the horror remake “The Omen,” which opened Tuesday with a record $12.6 million in ticket sales, the second weekend of the romantic comedy “The Break-Up,” and the still-popular “X-Men: The Last Stand,” DreamWorks Animation’s “Over the Hedge” and the religious thriller “The Da Vinci Code.” “Most of the other films play to different audiences, and I think that `Cars’ in its opening weekend has the broadest appeal of any of these movies in the marketplace,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com. Starting with 1995’s “Toy Story,” Pixar has been Disney’s most consistent hit-maker through a partnership that has gone on to include “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2,” “Monster’s, Inc.,” “Nemo” and “The Incredibles.” Pixar has made the movies while Disney has marketed and distributed them. But that decade-long arrangement at one time had threatened to end after “Cars” because of a breakdown in contract extension talks. But all became settled earlier this year when Disney purchased Emeryville-based Pixar for $7.4 billion in an all-stock deal. The purchase of Pixar merged it with Disney’s animation division and has given Disney the ability to fully capitalize on Pixar-created characters and franchises on video games and broadband and wireless technology, as well as in its theme parks, consumer products and live stage plays. A “Toy Story 3” film is currently in production. Also in production or set for future release are “American Dog,” “Meet the Robinsons” and “Ratatouille.” [email protected] (818) 713-3758160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!