Of course, the article’s title reads both figuratively and literally. Cars 2 raced away number one with an estimated $68 million this last weekend of June, while Green Lantern is—rightfully so—ushered away. The Cars sequel marks the second Pixar franchise in the company’s long history of children’s delights, but unfortunately, it is quite a deviation from the distinct persona that is Pixar.

Cars 2 appears to have been created to generate money and completely exploit its target audience, a studio tactic which has become nothing less than a Hollywood norm these days. We now witness a studio filmmaking culture which distinctly uses children as cash crops, who haven’t any idea what kind of manipulation they are being force-fed. Appealing to a select audience of moviegoers is one thing, but honestly, I don’t believe any film has been so deliberately developed to create revenue by taking advantage of the target audience since the Twilight series. The intended audience truly has become a target. None of this brings Pixar to mind, nor should it.

The Cars follow-up has pulled all stops for proceeds. It screened in 3-D, which has become a hallmark for children’s movies now since the wild success of such films as How to Train Your Dragon and Alice in Wonderland. It’s a fresh kind of medium, which can improve the sensation of the movie-going experience. However, much like the latter film, the tool can be a tool of self-destruction. But it didn’t matter, because 3-D tickets draw in a surplus of income per ticket. Likewise, the international spy story diminishes the inclusion of anyone but children. The plot was formed to appeal only to children—but simultaneously completely to them. This is uncommon practices for Pixar, who often scatters humor and story which transcends age across the duration of its films. It does give an advantage to selling to the masses of children, though.

The merchandising potential and foreign numbers drawn in by foreign characters are established lightning rods for earnings, and the need/want for more and more profit was enough to disregard the plot of the original for the most part. Every character is a toy, but not the way Toy Story’s characters are. As Mel Brooks’ film Spaceballs once noted, “Merchandising…That’s where the real money from the movie is made”. In fact, it is proof enough that the first film didn’t even settle well with everyone as it was, in comparison to other Pixar films—and no one actually wanted or even expected a sequel.

As estimated last weekend, Bad Teacher has taken second place with an approximated $31 million this weekend in the top box office, reinforcing Cameron Diaz’s potential for comedic range. However, the film was highly supported by R-rated equivalent Bridesmaids, and The Hangover, Part II. It seems a new audience has been found, and they are being given a number of treats. Raunchy films such as Bad Teacher are often incredibly limited by their rating, but when they soften up to take a smaller rating for revenue, the film becomes worthless and untrue to its intent. Going all the way seems to be working just fine in today’s cinema.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is Michael Bay’s shot to recover from the second installment in his Transformers trilogy, which seemed more like a self-made spoof of the original film than an actual sequel. If there is any substance left in Revenge of the Fallen, I’d love for someone to point it out. Really. So there’s very low expectations now, but then many already have low expectations for Bay, who has become known for his distinctly popcorn entertainment films.

However, that’s what today’s culture wants anyway, so audiences accidentally and indeed unknowingly fit right into his style, and so the third installment of Transformers should take number one. Unless it is terrible like its predecessor. Regardless, I am baffled as to why the release was shifted from a Friday to a Wednesday, and why anyone thought that Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts make sense as a couple for Larry Crowne.

Larry Crowne will have to do battle with Monte Carlo for third, since Cars 2 shouldn’t sink beyond second. Bad Teacher should form a stronghold at fourth, as Super 8 falls to fifth. The only variable is whether or not Transformers: Dark of the Moon returns the series to form, or is a gigantic letdown before the weekend even begins.

USA Weekend Box-Office
June 24, 2011

Rank Title Weekend Gross
1   Cars 2 (2011) $68M $68M
2   Bad Teacher (2011) $31M $31M
3   Green Lantern (2011) $18.4M $89.3M
4   Super 8 (2011) $12.1M $95.2M
5   Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011) $10.3M $39.4M
6   X-Men: First Class (2011) $6.6M $133M
7   The Hangover Part II (2011) $5.87M $244M
8   Bridesmaids (2011) $5.37M $147M
9   Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) $4.7M $229M
10   Midnight in Paris (2011) $4.48M $28.6M