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Pixar’s “Cars 2” sputters at box office; Will toys save the day?

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: We already knew “Cars 2” was a critical flop, the first in Pixar’s decades-long career. But this weekend confirmed that the animated feature whiffed at the box office, as well.

Coming out of its seventh weekend, the animated sequel only has earned an estimated $182M at the domestic box office. That makes it’s the 11th-highest-grossing picture in Pixar history, ahead of only John Lasseter’s “A Bug’s Life” but behind everything else on the studio’s resume.

It is a drastic step down from the $415M earned by Pixar’s previous sequel, the critically acclaimed Oscar nominee “Toy Story 3.” It makes one wonder if “Cars 2” will be able to fend off stiff competition from “Rango” or “Gnomeo & Juliet” to even claim a Best Animated Feature nomination at the Oscars early next year.

The numbers are better overseas, where a global setting for the racing action has helped Pixar push “Cars 2” to $217M, upping the film’s worldwide total to $399M. But we all know that this film earns its keep in marketing, and that toys will power the “Cars” brand to the bank. But you have to wonder if the wizards at Pixar are feeling the sting of their first official strikeout after a string of triples and bona fide home runs.

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