A new box office champion was crowned over the weekend -- Cars 3, the latest offering in Pixar's namesake animated franchise. The movie unseated the No. 1 of the previous two weeks, high flying Wonder Woman, which was the weekend's runner-up. Third place belonged to another new release, the biopic All Eyez on Me.
Accelerating into first
Pixar films usually open very well. In fact, 16 of 18 films produced by the studio -- which is owned by Disney (NYSE:DIS) -- have been No. 1 in their debut weekend. That, combined with the fact that the Cars franchise is clearly designed to appeal to children, makes it unsurprising that Cars 3 took the prize.
The domestic box office take for its debut weekend is estimated at $53.5 million; overseas, it reaped slightly over $21 million.
What's slightly less encouraging is that of those 18, a mere one (2015's The Good Dinosaur) brought in less than that amount, when adjusted for inflation. To me, that raises some doubt about the long-term viability of the franchise, although we can count on Disney to keep Cars on the road for at least another film or two.
Wonder Woman, in its third week of release, continues to be a runaway hit for the DC Extended Universe spawned by Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX.DL) Warner Bros. The superhero saga raked in nearly $41 million over the weekend from U.S. moviegoers, bringing its cumulative total up to nearly $275 million. Abroad, the figures were similar -- $39.5 million and $297 million, respectively.
In this country, that already makes it the No. 3 highest-grossing film of the year (behind a pair of Disney releases, Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2). It's still early in the movie's release cycle, so it's very possible it'll move further up the ranks. Time Warner has the latest hit superhero franchise on its hands, and we can be sure it'll also do well with Wonder Woman merchandise sales.
The third film in the winner's circle for the weekend was All Eyez on Me, a biopic about the life and times of Tupac Shakur released by Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF-A)(NYSE:LGF-B). Unlike Cars 3 and Wonder Woman, the poorly reviewed All Eyez on Me was not expected to do particularly well, yet it took in over $27 million domestically (it hasn't yet opened abroad).
But Shakur's star power remains strong, even over 20 years after his demise, and there is clearly an audience for tales of hip-hop legends. Straight Outta Compton, a film about the rise of Los Angeles group N.W.A., grossed over $200 million worldwide during its 2015 release. Whether these performances lead to a spate of new rap biographies or not, All Eyez on Me's weekend is unexpectedly happy news for Lionsgate shareholders.
Next weekend will see the debut of the latest installment in another franchise, namely Transformers: The Last Knight, from Viacom's Paramount. It's the only major new release for the period; that, combined with the good performance of its predecessors, gives it an excellent chance to be the new No. 1.
Meanwhile, Cars 3 and Wonder Woman should continue to ring up ticket sales for Disney and Time Warner. And one or more smaller new releases -- comedy The Big Sick, Civil War drama The Beguiled, and dystopian sci-fi tale The Bad Batch -- might be (an) underdog winner(s).
Eric Volkman owns shares of Lions Gate Entertainment Class A, Lions Gate Entertainment Class B, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Lions Gate Entertainment Class A, Lions Gate Entertainment Class B, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Time Warner. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.