5 Ways to Prep: Cars 3
By George Rose
June 15, 2017
For the next few years (2007-2009), Pixar would reclaim the throne of best animators around (Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up) while Disney would release the final few duds they had in production (Bolt, A Christmas Carol, and The Princess and the Frog). With the Disney/Pixar union proving successful and another few years behind them, Disney was ready to learn from their lessons. In 2009 they saved the world and bought Marvel. With a revamped animation studio and Pixar/Marvel acting as sister wives, Disney was unstoppable. In 2010, Toy Story 3 was released and proved that theory. It was a golden unicorn; not only did it make more than $1 billion but it showed that not all trilogy enders suck (I’m looking at you, Spider-Man and X-Men). Movie lovers rejoice!
Never one to miss out on a senseless grab for cash, 2011 brought us the unthinkable: Cars 2. Toy Story was Pixar’s first true baby and, as a result, it should come as no surprise that it was the only film in their catalog that they had the creativity and/or desire to make further installments of. Even though Cars was Pixar’s only blemish on its resume, it made billions of dollars on merchandising, so Disney demanded another installment. Part sequel, part spy adventure and mostly crapped on by critics (39% positive reviews), Cars 2 is the quintessential example of Disney’s merchandising and marketing prowess. The cars now had missile launchers so more toys could be sold. Despite the reviews and with the help of the growth in international markets and 3D, Cars 2 earned more than the first film. Disney saved face, Pixar shook their heads and both went on to bigger and better things.
In 2012, Disney completed their shopping spree trifecta by purchasing Star Wars. With sequels and reboots and relaunches all the rage, it became clear Hollywood was on a downward spiral with regards to creativity. If not for international markets, most films these days would be outright bombs and financial losers. To avoid this fate, Disney now owned three of the most guaranteed creators of profitable content: Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. All these outlets were bringing boatloads of money to the table and put Disney back on top. Starting in 2012, the next few cartoons to come out of their cannon brought them back to early ‘90s glory: Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia and Moana.
And in classic ‘90s fashion, Disney ran the side-hustle game to no end. With direct-to-DVD movies dying off and sequels/spin-offs all the rage, Disney quietly released Planes in 2013 and Planes: Fire & Rescue in 2014. Even though the Planes looked and talked like the Cars, Pixar had no part in this. Both were horribly reviewed but were made on a fraction of the Cars budget so they were profitable, even though neither earned more than $100 million domestically. They kept the Cars merchandising machine alive so they were ultimately worthwhile, despite reeking of bitter desperation. A handful of Pixar releases (Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out, Finding Dory) and a handful of years later, Pixar and Disney are riding high and hope they can keep that quality rolling with the release of Cars 3.
As of now, Cars 3’s reviews are wobbling right around that of the first Cars. This is better than Cars 2 but not on the current quality level that Pixar and Disney are capable of. Considering the Cars franchise is probably one of the largest contributing factors in the discord between Disney and Pixar, it doesn’t really come as much of a surprise it feels like the final attempt at taking what cash they can from the few that ever cared for these films. 3D doesn’t excite people anymore, and there are no countries left to discover and force-feed Hollywood fodder to. The Toy Story trilogy kept increasing in profits because of consistent quality ($373 million worldwide, then $497 million, then $1 billion). Even though Cars 1 & 2 look similar in their growth ($462 million, then $562 million), it’s unreasonable to think Cars 3 will make $1 billion.
The quality isn’t there, there is no new 4D novelty and there are no foreign planets yet to sell Hollywood cinema to. Sorry, folks, $1 billion is just not gonna happen. While I can’t help Disney or Pixar prepare for how to handle the emotional loss of failing yet again to reach $1 billion (Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean 5 haven’t been able to do it), maybe I can help you prepare for how to enjoy Cars 3. So hop in, adjust your chair, put on your seatbelt and get ready to rev up for 5 Ways to Prep!