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Cars 3: How Pixar’s worst reviewed franchise makes it’s billions

‘Cars 3’ is the eighteenth feature animation produced by Pixar and released by Disney.

In ‘Cars 3’, Lightning McQueen suffers a serious crash which leads to a period of reflection as McQueen realises he’s now competing against a new generation of high-tech racing cars.

Enter Cruz Ramirez, a tech-savvy trainer, who hits the road with McQueen, as he looks to rediscover his mojo and prove he’s still the best race car in the world.

In 2006, when the original film was released, Pixar hadn’t put a foot wrong.

All of it’s feature films received more than 90-percent on ‘Rotten Tomatoes,’ a site that aggregates film critics reviews—with both ‘Toy Story 1 and 2’ managing 100-percent.

But ‘Cars,’ which was directed by John Lasseter, only managed 74-percent.

Then 2011’s ’Cars 2’ slipped further, to a rating of 39-percent—the lowest score of any Pixar film to date—with critics largely blaming poor storytelling, one of the very skills that made Pixar’s name.

Both films did very well at the box office though, taking a combined total of over a-billion-dollars…

Although ticket sales are “small fry” compared to merchandising.

Following the original film’s release in 2006, ‘Cars’ merchandise made about 2-billion-dollars in sales each year.

Then as sales started to dip, 2011’s ‘Cars 2’ provided a bump.

And Disney will be looking for a similar effect from ‘Cars 3.’

Speaking in 2011, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that “’Cars’ is very, very potent in terms of its appeal to kids”

And Disney Consumer Products Chairman Andy Mooney said that after asking themselves what everyday products for boys could be “Cars” branded, Disney executives concluded the answer was: “All of them.”

‘Cars 3’ is directed by Brian Fee, who’s no stranger to the franchise, having worked as a storyboard artist on the original film and it’s sequel.

It includes voice talent from Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen, Cristela Alonzo as Cruz Ramirez and Chris Cooper as Smokey.

There are also cameos from several NASCAR drivers.

Doc Hudson, voiced by the late Paul Newman, also returns to ‘Cars 3’ in the form of flashbacks, thanks to recordings of conversations between Newman and Lasseter on previous films.

With ‘Cars 3,’ Pixar has gone back to it’s roots—or as Jay Ward, Creative Director for the ‘Cars’ franchise puts it “the warmth and depth that resonated with so many people in the first film.”