Pixar’s ‘Cars 3’ should unseat ‘Wonder Woman’ at the box office

Owen Wilson returns as the voice of Lightning McQueen in “Cars 3.”

Wonder Woman is expected to surrender her box office tiara to Lightning McQueen and the anthropomorphic motor vehicles of “Cars 3” this weekend, ending the two-week reign of the Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment superhero movie.

The new “Cars” film from Walt Disney Co.’s Pixar Animation Studios is expected to gross about $60 million in the United States and Canada Friday through Sunday, according to people who have read pre-release audience surveys.

That would be roughly similar to the previous “Cars” installments and should be enough to unseat “Wonder Woman,” which has grossed $206 million domestically so far. Its second weekend dropped just 43% from its debut, one of the best holds ever for a superhero movie.

The box office is revving up for a crowded weekend, coming shortly after the Universal Pictures’ Tom Cruise reboot of “The Mummy" failed to mount a serious challenge to “Wonder Woman.” Several other movies will compete for moviegoers’ attention, including Lionsgate’s Tupac Shakur bio “All Eyez On Me,” Sony’s raunchy lady comedy “Rough Night” and the Mandy Moore shark thriller “47 Meters Down.”

Here’s what to watch:

On your mark, Pixar

Since its debut a decade ago, “Cars” has made its mark as an enduring series for Pixar and its parent company Walt Disney Co.

The previous “Cars” movies, starring Owen Wilson, have grossed more than $1 billion in combined global ticket sales, according to data from ComScore. The original “Cars” peeled out 11 years ago with a $60-million debut, on its way to $462 million in worldwide sales. In 2011, the follow-up launched with $66 million domestically and ended up with a global total of $561 million.

The enduring “Cars” series has become everything a contemporary entertainment conglomerate could want from a cartoon franchise — wide demographic appeal and a cute concept that easily feeds toy lines, apparel licensing and video games. It also seeded a pair of spinoffs about sentient airplanes. The Cars Land attraction at Disney California Adventure has proved to be a powerful draw since it opened in 2012. As a bonus, the newest “Cars" has been relatively well-reviewed by critics.

For years, Pixar avoided making sequels, with the exception of movies like “Toy Story 2.” But the company has embraced sequels in recent years, to profitable results. “Finding Dory,” the sequel to “Finding Nemo,” became the second-highest-grossing movie of 2016 in the U.S. and Canada, behind “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” The studio also has a second “Incredibles" and a fourth “Toy Story” on the way.

Pixar’s “Cars” franchise at the box office

“Cars” (2006)

  • Domestic opening: $60.1 million.
  • Domestic total: $244 million.
  • Foreign total: $218 million.
  • Global total: $462 million.

“Cars 2” (2011)

  • Domestic opening: $66.1 million.
  • Domestic total: $191 million.
  • Foreign total: $370 million.
  • Global total: $561 million.

Something for everyone?

The rest of the weekend’s film lineup will try to appeal to demographics not served by the dominant films.

With “All Eyez On Me,” for example, Lionsgate will attempt draw fans of Tupac Shakur, the Harlem-born hip-hop hit maker who was killed in Las Vegas in a 1996 drive-by shooting. Starring Demetrius Shipp Jr. as the “California Love” rapper, “All Eyez On Me” is poised to open with $17 million to $20 million. Analysts think it could defy expectations, though, after 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton” about the hip-hop group N.W.A did better than expected.

Sony Pictures will make a play for the ladies’ night out crowd with “Rough Night,” an R-rated ensemble comedy about a group of friends from college who reunite in Miami for a bachelorette party, which goes into cover-up mode after they accidentally kill a male stripper. The $20-million romp, starring Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon, is aiming for a launch of $10 million to $14 million.

Meanwhile, shark survival thriller “47 Meters Down” is expected to sink at the box office with about $5 million in ticket sales. The movie, starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as vacationers in Mexico whose shark cage drops to the ocean floor, is getting its release from Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios. The film is hitting theaters a year after the surprise shark hit from Sony, “The Shallows,” starring Blake Lively.

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