Speed bumps be damned, 'Cars 2' raced to first place on the box office chart in its first weekend on the track. Despite some of the weakest reviews in Pixar history, the beloved computer-animation studio's streak of No. 1 debuts continues unbroken, 12 for 12.
While 'Cars 2' seemed to have a lock on first place, predictions for where it would finish were all over the map, from low 50s to mid-70s. According to studio estimates, the sequel opened with $68.0 million in sales. It's not clear yet whether the movie would have done better if it had had better reviews, or whether the 3D fatigue ticketbuyers have felt all summer affected 'Cars 2.' It didn't exactly outpace the 2006 'Cars,' whose $60.1 million opening five years ago would translate to about $72.1 million after ticket inflation. Still, the film has also earned $42.9 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $110.9 million.
Getting higher grades from ticketbuyers than expected was 'Bad Teacher,' which opened in second place. The Cameron Diaz comedy's R rating and mixed reviews had led to predictions of a debut in the low 20s, but it proved the top choice for adult viewers who didn't want a family-friendly option this weekend, and it took in an estimated $31.0 million. After the successes of this film and 'Bridesmaids,' expect to see a lot more raunchy, female-oriented comedies.
'Green Lantern,' last week's No. 1, fell to third place. Superhero movies tend to have steep dropoffs in their second weekends, but 'Lantern' plunged a drastic 66 percent to an estimated $18.4 million. That's about what was expected, given the film's poor word-of-mouth. In two weekends, 'Lantern' has taken in $89.3 million worth of green, but with a $200 million budget to recoup, the prospects of the Ryan Reynolds movie turning into a franchise seem dim.
In fourth place, ''Super 8' took in an estimated $12.1 million, down 44 percent from a week ago. In three weeks, the monster movie has scared up $95.2 million, earning nearly twice its $50 million budget.
'Mr. Popper's Penguins' popped into fifth place with an estimated $10.3 million. That's down two chart slots and 44 percent in sales from its debut last week. The Jim Carrey kiddie comedy's 10-day total is $39.4 million.
The full top 10:
1. 'Cars 2,' $68.0 million (4,115 screens), new release
2. 'Bad Teacher,' $31.0 million (3,049) , new release
3. 'Green Lantern,' $18.4 million (3,816), $89.3 million total
4. 'Super 8,' $12.1 million (3,424), $95.2 million
5. 'Mr. Popper's Penguins,' $10.3 million (3,342), $39.4 million
6. 'X-Men: First Class,' $6.6 million (2,633), $132.8 million
7. 'The Hangover Part II,' $5.9 million (2,755), $243.9 million
8. 'Bridesmaids,' $5.4 million (2,031), $146.7 million
9. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,' $4.7 million (2,244), $229.1 million
10. 'Midnight in Paris,' $4.5 million (951), $28.6 million
Follow Gary Susman on Twitter: @garysusman.