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‘Cars 3’ is Stuck in Neutral, But ‘Wonder Woman’ and Tupac Shakur Come To the Rescue

This was a "Rough Night" for the box-office weekend, in more ways than one.

SIMULATED SPEED — Tech-savvy trainer Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo) is armed with cutting-edge tools—like a racing simulator—to help turn racers-in-training into champions. But Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) isn’t a fan of Cruz's high-tech techniques and decides instead to return to his roots—bringing his skeptical trainer along for the ride. Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3” opens in U.S. theaters on June 16, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

“Cars 3”

Pixar

Rough Night” described the box office this weekend for too many movies. “Cars 3” (Disney), Pixar’s latest animated entry, took the top spot — but fell below opening estimates. “The Mummy” continued its domestic unraveling, falling to $13 million and number 4 in its second weekend. And then there’s Sony’s “Rough Night” — the latest attempt to replicate the “Bridesmaids” R-rated female comedy magic, and latest to fall short.

Winners were “Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.) at number two, and  two original, non-franchise films with Lionsgate’s Tupac Shakur biopic “All Eyez On Me” flying much higher than predicted, while the British sharks-in-the-water thriller “47 Meters Down” (Entertainment Studios) scored a surprisingly strong $11.5 million.

Next week, expect another sequelitis outbreak with “Transformers: The Last Knight” (Paramount, fifth in the series) the sole wide opener next week on Wednesday. “Despicable Me 3” (Universal), actually the fourth in its franchise, opens the following week; a few countries have opened already, with results on par with past entries.

All Eyez On Me

“All Eyez on Me”

Open Road Films

The Top Ten

1. Cars 3 (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 59; Est. budget: $175 million

$53,547,000 in 4,256 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $; Cumulative: $53,547,000

2. Wonder Woman (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$40,775,000 (-30%) in 4,018 theaters (-147); PTA: $10,148; Cumulative: $274,602,000

3. All Eyez On Me (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 52; Est. budget: $40 million

$27,050,000 in 2,471 theaters; PTA: $10,947; Cumulative: $27,050,000

4. The Mummy (Universal) Week  2; Last weekend #2

$13,916,000 (-56%) in 4,034 theaters (-1); PTA: $3,450; Cumulative: $56,527,000

5. 47 Meters Down (Entertainment Studios) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 40; Est. budget: $

$11,500,000 in 2,270 theaters; PTA: $5,066; Cumulative: $11,500,000

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Disney)  Week 4; Last weekend #4

$8,458,000 (-21%) in 2,759 theaters (-920); PTA: $3,066; Cumulative: $150,066,000

7. Rough Night (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 56; Est. budget: $20 million

$8,040,000 in 3,162 theaters; PTA: $2,543; Cumulative: $8,040,000

8. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$7,350,000 (-40%) in 2,968 theaters (-561); PTA: $2,476; Cumulative: $57,694,000

9. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #5

$4,982,000 (-21%) in 1,813 theaters (-1,098); PTA: $2,748; Cumulative: $374,853,000

10. It Comes at Night (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$2,617,000 (-57%) in 2,450 theaters (-83); PTA: $1,068; Cumulative: $11,140,000

“Wonder Woman”

Clay Enos

The Takeaways

Summer Struggles Continue

With a $178 million Top 10 total, this was the fourth-biggest weekend of 2017. That’s a modest achievement for a date that has seen the figure land far on the other side of $200 million.

It’s a bit unfair to compare to last year, when Pixar’s “Finding Dory” exploded to a $135 million start. The “Cars” series has never been a record breaker at the box office; merchandising is another story.

Not that it helps theaters; they can’t sell any merchandise, branded or otherwise, if they don’t get people through the doors. The $53 million initial weekend is by far the weakest of the series; adjusted, the first two opened to $81 million and $73 million. That’s more than a 25 percent fall from “Cars 2” in 2011 (on a similar date).

To date, 2017 is still up slightly in revenues, with ticket sales down a fraction. After “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (July 7) and “War for Planet of the Apes” (July 14), most of the release schedule consists of freestanding projects; the risk is there’s no built-in audience for most of them.

“Cars 3”

Where “Cars 3” Stands Among Pixar Releases

Pixar is now as likely to be mentioned as Disney as the leader among American animation studios; their Oscar haul and 18 years of strong box office make them an undisputed model in the field. But they no longer are king of the hill as Universal’s Illumination Entertainment, without the hype and much lower cost, has come on strong in recent years.

At $53 million, “Cars 3” is in line with “The Boss Baby” and “The LEGO Batman Movie,” both considered successes for DreamWorks and Warners Animation — but far below not only “Finding Dory” but also “The Secret Life of Pets.” Those were the two most-touted animated releases of last summer, which is the role “Cars 3” and “Despicable Me 3” play this year.

But what’s most telling is where it stands among Pixar’s films: It is their second-lowest opening ever in adjusted grosses. The only one that made less was last fall’s “The Good Dinosaur.” It did $39 million — but that came after already playing two days, for a five-day total of $55 million.

For a movie with a reported $175 million production budget, and prime playtime slot, this is not good — not that it really matters for Pixar. Any sort of normal multiple should get this to $160 million domestic, and “Cars 2” (which opened in June 2011, before the explosion in foreign grosses) did two-thirds of its business overseas. So “Cars 3” could head to a $500 million worldwide gross.

Throw in their lucrative toy and other revenues, and they’ll be fine. But for U.S. theaters, the luster is off the brand. Better days ahead though: Pixar has claimed the date for the next two years with “The Incredibles 2” and “Toy Story 4.”

“47 Meters Down”

Tough Indie Productions “All Eyez On Me” and “47 Meters” Pay Off

Plans for a Tupac Shakur biopic go back to 2008, going through several top name African-American directors, multiple producers, financing sources, and complications over music rights. That pent-up demand and Tupac’s enduring appeal led to an elevated $12 million initial gross, which fell 40 percent Saturday. (“Straight Outta Compton” fell 20 percent). The number is higher than anticipated, but not a surprise. With strong African-American support, “Central Intelligence” opened to $35 million this weekend in 2016.

Up next: How a rival distributor took advantage of Dimension Films’ mistake

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