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Box office: 'Cars 2' speeds to No. 1, 'Bad Teacher' gets good grade [Updated]

June 26, 2011 |  9:17 am

Cars2

Fears that Pixar Animation Studios could have its first box-office dud were left in the dust this weekend as "Cars 2" opened to a solid $68 million, according to an estimate from distributor Walt Disney Studios.

Though far behind the opening of last year's much more popular sequel "Toy Story 3," the follow-up to the tale about anthropormophic automobiles that has been a merchandising bonanza among young boys was right in line with other recent Pixar releases such as 2009's "Up" and 2008's "Wall-E," which debuted with $68.1 million and $63.1 million, respectively.

The low-budget Cameron Diaz comedy "Bad Teacher," the weekend's only other new nationwide release, also got off to a healthy start, taking in $31 million

Prerelease surveys had indicated that "Cars 2" would open at around $55 million, the second-lowest debut for a Pixar film this decade and below even the original "Cars" five years ago. Combined with soft reviews, that prediction had many at Disney worried. Instead, the picture's $68-million launch indicates that interest has stayed roughly even with the original, accounting for rising ticket prices and the fact that the sequel is in 3-D and enjoyed premium pricing in some theaters.

Unlike "Toy Story 3," which drew audiences of all types, "Cars 2" was primarily driven by families with children under 12, according to exit polls. Those who came disagreed with critics and liked the movie, giving it an average grade of A-minus, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That leaves little reason to doubt that, like most Pixar movies, "Cars 2" should enjoy a long box-office life and exceed $200 million at the domestic box office.

Overseas, it opened to $42.9 million in 18 foreign markets, marking the biggest ever Pixar openings in Russia and Brazil and second highest ever in Mexico, behind only "Toy Story 3." The film, which features BadTeacher
a globe-spanning story, is now certain to exceed the $217.9 million international total of the first "Cars."

"Bad Teacher" enjoyed a strong start for a movie produced at a cost of only $19 million by Sony Pictures. Continuing to prove the success of female-skewing R-rated comedies after the hit "Bridesmaids," 63% of "Bad Teacher" moviegoers were women.

It also enjoyed a good start overseas for a comedy, debuting to $6.1 million in Germany and taking in a total of $12.9 million in 24 foreign markets.

Last weekend's No. 1 movie "Green Lantern" fell victim to soft buzz and tumbled 65% to $18.4 million, bringing its domestic total to $89.4 million after 10 days.

The Jim Carrey family comedy "Mr. Popper's Penguins" fell 44% to $10.3 million, a less steep decline, particularly considering the competition for children from "Cars 2."

[Update, 12:15 p.m: Overseas, "Bridesmaids" had a strong opening in Britain of $5.8 million and putting its foreign ticket sales to date at $21.3 million. "The Hangover Part II" got off to a good start in Spain, boosting its international total to $283.2 million.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "Cars 2" (Disney/Pixar): Opened to $68 million. $42.9 million overseas in 18 foreign markets.

2. "Bad Teacher" (Sony): Opened to $31 million. $12.9 million overseas in 24 foreign markets. International total: $18.3 million.

Cars-gallery 3. "Green Lantern" (Warner Bros.): $18.4 million on its second weekend, down 65%. Domestic total: $89.4 million. $7.1 million overseas in 16 foreign markets. International total: $29.4 million.

4. "Super 8" (Paramount): $12.1 million on its third weekend, down 44%. Domestic total: $95.2 million. $10.5 million overseas in 30 foreign markets. International total: $36 million.

5. "Mr. Popper's Penguins" (Fox/Dune): $10.3 million on its second weekend, down 44%. Domestic total: $39.5 million. $3.4 million overseas in 16 foreign markets. International total: $4.6 million.

6. "X-Men First Class" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): $6.6 million on its fourth weekend, down 45%. Domestic total: $132.8 million. $12.9 million overseas in 68 foreign markets. International total: $186 million.

7. "The Hangover Part II" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $5.9 million on its fifth weekend, down 42%. Domestic total: $243.9 million. $15.6 million overseas in 56 foreign markets. International total: $283.2 million.

8. "Bridesmaids" (Universal/Relativity): $5.4 million on its seventh weekend, down 24%. Domestic total: $146.7 million. $11.5 million overseas in 11 foreign markets. International total: $21.3 million.

9. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney): $4.7 million on its sixth weekend, down 29%. Domestic total: $229.1 million. $13.5 million overseas. International total: $756.1 million.

10. "Midnight in Paris" (Sony Pictures Classics): $4.5 million on its sixth weekend, down 8%. Domestic total: $28.6 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photos, from top: A scene from "Cars 2"; Cameron Diaz in "Bad Teacher." Credits: Pixar Animation Studios; Gemma LaMana / Columbia Pictures

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