Despite signs of franchise fatigue, Pixar and Disney’s Cars 3 dominated the road at the North American box office over the weekend.
The threequel opened to an estimated $53.5 million from 4,256 theaters, enough to beat ruling champ Wonder Woman. It is anticipating a brisk Sunday, thanks to Father’s Day (the movie is skewing slightly male). Overseas, Cars 3 debuted to $21.3 million from its first handful of territories for a global start of $74.8 million.
Make no mistake, Wonder Woman continues to impress, falling a scant 30 percent in the U.S. to $40.8 million for a domestic cume of $274.6 million. The Warner Bros. movie, directed by Patty Jenkins, enjoyed one of the best third weekends in history for a superhero film. Internationally, Wonder Woman‘s hold is almost as good, earning another $39.5 million for a foreign total of $297.2 million and worldwide tally of $571.8 million.
In the coming days, Wonder Woman will eclipse 2008’s Mamma Mia! ($609.8 million) to become the top-grossing female-directed live-action film of all time, not accounting for inflation.
Cars 3 nabbed an A CinemaScore. That means all 18 Pixar films have received some variation of the top grade. It is also the 16th Pixar movie to open at No. 1.
At the same time, Cars 3 came in 19 percent behind the $66.1 million domestic debut of Cars 2 in 2011, which went on to earn $562.1 million worldwide. The original Cars, which hit theaters in 2006, opened to $60.1 million in its North American bow before topping out at $462.2 million worldwide. Overall, Cars merchandise is a huge revenue generator for Disney.
The threequel follows the legendary Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) as he’s pushed out of the sport he loves by a new generation of blazing-fast racers. He enlists the help of a young female race technician (voiced by Cristela Alonzo) to help him get back in the game.
“We are thrilled with this start and look forward to the balance of the world opening up. Cars continues to be an important franchise for the company and the reaction to this new story and characters is very gratifying,” said Disney’s distribution president Dave Hollis. “Pixar’s consistency is an extraordinary competitive advantage in today’s world. ”