Cars 3, Tupac and a $120 Million Top 3 Drive Box Office
By John Hamann
June 18, 2017
Tupac rises and saves the box office – not a headline one might to expect to read in column about box office.
Two weekends ago and looking forward to this weekend, my money would have been on Rough Night for a second place finish behind Cars 3, and not All Eyez on Me, the Tupac Shakur biopic that takes the name of his last album. The R-rated, 2 hour 20 minute feature felt long, but audiences responded leaving a surprised Wonder Woman tumbling to third on Friday night (but this is Wonder Woman, and you can't keep a good woman down for long).
Openers this weekend included Cars 3, which was looking to land near the debut of the first two Cars films. The original opened to $60 million, and the sequel debuted with $66 million, so the trend appeared to be going up. The other opener, 47 Meters Down, a shark movie, did much better than its title, distributor and minor screen count (2,270) would have predicted. What was likely a goal to just make the top ten quickly became a shot at staying in the top five and ahead of the Tom Cruise domestic disappointment The Mummy.
Our number one movie of the weekend is Cars 3, which joins only Toy Story as a Pixar trilogy (hopefully it will stop here. I have never seen one of these, but I have seen literally everything else in the Pixar canon). These Cars flicks seem to draw the same audience every time. The original Cars earned $19.7 million on opening day, and the first sequel improved on that by taking in $25.7 million. The third Cars release waned a bit on Friday, pulling in $19.5 million. This shouldn't be too much of a surprise, considering the second film opened to more than the original, but its domestic gross was $50 million less than the original. Kids and families had figured out that the Cars franchise didn't deliver Pixar's best product – critics again weren't overjoyed with a Cars release. The first Cars movie was the critical favorite at 72% fresh, the sequel then bottomed out at 39%, and the third rose to average at 65%. Every other Pixar theatrical release has earned a fresh rating of 75% or higher, but the Cars series goes 0 for 3.
The weekend box office result reflected those dismal scores, as the third entry was not able to compete with the first two Cars releases. After $2.8 million in previews and a combined Thursday/Friday of $19.5 million, the weekend was estimated at $53.5 million, the lowest Pixar opening weekend since Ratatouille debuted to $47 million in 2007. Pixar has now had two films open on the bottom shelf of their portfolio in the last two years, as The Good Dinosaur opened to $39.2 million in November 2015. Following the opening, sales should be brisk, as like the original, Cars 3 earned an A Cinemascore, beating the A- that Cars 2 earned.