LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Cars 2," a Pixar sequel judged by critics to be the worst movie produced by the Disney-owned animation studio, sped to the front of the pack at the weekend box office in North America.
According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, the cartoon earned about $68 million during its first three days of release across the United States and Canada.
The first "Cars" opened to $60 million in 2006, or $72 million if adjusted for higher ticket prices. "Cars 2" also had the benefit of premium pricing for 3D engagements.
Critics lambasted the new film, a shocking development given that they usually fall over themselves to praise Pixar movies. Indeed, Pixar's "Toy Story 3," which opened to $110 million a year ago, was among the best reviewed films of 2010.
The latest sequel, viewed more as a merchandising opportunity for Pixar's Walt Disney Co parent than another creative milestone for the groundbreaking animation house, received approval of just 34 percent of critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes. The previous low for a Pixar film was 74 percent for the first "Cars."
The Wall Street Journal said the film "seldom gets beyond mediocrity," while the Chicago Tribune said it was "virtually joke-free." But fortunately for Disney, the target audience of young boys does not read reviews.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Vicki Allen)