Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) are back on the big screen in Cars 2, Disney/Pixar’s new animated film. Car 2’s James Bond-esque plot is centred around a series of World Grand Prix races in London, Porto Corsa and Tokyo, during which Mater is mistakenly taken to be an American master spy by new characters Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) from British Intelligence.
As I walked into the giant IMAX complex at Sydney’s Darling Harbour with my press pass I expected a visual treat showcasing the 3 international locations with great scenery and the film played out as expected.
The best way to approach watching Cars 2 is to think back as I did to your time playing with toy trucks, Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars as a kid. Obviously this is more likely to work for men than women!
Cars 2 lacks the layered humour aimed at children and adults alike that audiences have been trained to expect in a Pixar film.
The only hint of that you’ll see is in the short film which plays prior to Cars 2 about a day in the life of the Toy Story characters after the 3rd movie.
It’s clear that Disney/Pixar aimed Cars 2 squarely at kids younger than 10 years of age and it’s likely a lot of parents of primary school age children will be pestered to take their kids to the cinemas to watch it at least once.
The animated movie Cars earnt less than 500 million for Disney/Pixar which is only moderately successful by their standards, however it was an unexpectedly massive hit with movie merchandise and DVD sales. In an interview with TIME director John Lasseter said:
The merchandising is gigantic. We’ve had other movies with bigger global box office, but never in film history has a movie grown in popularity so much after it got out on DVD. The sales of the DVD and the toys have never stopped, and that never happens – it’s billions of dollars [nearly $10 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times]. Cars is one of the biggest films in history when you combine everything
As an example while I was waiting in the queue to enter the IMAX movie theatre I noticed the little boy in front of me with his parents, was wearing a “Lightning McQueen” Cars jacket and had a Cars branded backpack.
With the range of international locations and new characters featured in Cars 2 it’s a safe bet that factories in China have been manufacturing huge quantities of Cars 2 related merchandise to be sold after the film is released.
EDIT: A friend of mine called Kristi who works in the animation industry reminded me to add this tip: the further away you sit from the screen the greater the 3D depth effect is. So the centre of the back row is the best place to watch an IMAX 3D film. I sit in that area anyway because the IMAX Darling Harbour screen is so big that it fills my whole field of vision. Sitting in rows closer to the screen means you can’t see the whole screen at once.