Talk about high-performance vehicles: Disney-Pixar's "Cars 2" significantly overperformed at the box office this weekend, opening with $68 million, according to studio estimates. That's some $8 million more than even the most optimistic projections for the animated 3D film.
The follow-up to the studio's 2006 talking car-themed movie played at 4,155 theaters — 2,508 of them showing the film in 3D.
The R-rated film was made for about $20 million and played at 3,049 theaters. It took in an additional $12.9 million overseas, meaning that in its first weekend, it grossed about two-and-a-half times its production cost.
In all, it was a good box office weekend — up about 12 percent over the same weekend last year.
But "Green Lantern" had the blues. The Warner Bros. superhero movie dropped 65 percent in its second weekend of domestic distribution to $18.4 million. It has grossed a total of $89.3 million.
The drop is significant, but in line with fanboy superhero movies such as "The Incredible Hulk," "Fantastic Four" and "The Last Airbender."
Now that school is out, Warners is expecting strong midweek performance for the movie.
Disney's president of distribution, Chuck Viane, admitted that early tracking showing that "Cars 2" would gross $50 million to $60 million this weekend were "disheartening."
"Maybe it's the confusion of having so many great movies to come," he told TheWrap. "You have 'Transformers' coming, you have 'Harry Potter' coming, you have 'Cowboys & Aliens,' you have this whole group of films that may be clouding the tracking as to what are peoples' first choices."
"Cars 2" clearly was the first choice of a huge number of moviegoers.
"We're more than double the second-place movie this weekend," Viane pointed out.
The movie skewed slightly male: 53 percent of the audience was male to 47 percent female. Those under 25 made up 56 percent of the audience and kids younger than 12 made up 36 percent.
About 40 percent of its opening take came from 3D theaters.
"Cars 2" had strong international numbers, as well, grossing $42.9 million overseas, making its worldwide total $110.9 million. The movie, directed by Pixar chief John Lasseter, is open in only about 18 of Disney's approximately 75 international markets.
Where "Cars 2" skewed slightly male, "Bad Teacher" skewed female: 63 percent of its audience was female, and 37 percent was male.
"That bodes well for the film because it has very much a male sensibility to it as well," Rory Bruer, president, worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures, told TheWrap. "It's going to be one of those films that, as weeks go on, that number is going to rise on the male side."
And the Jake Kasdan-directed comedy played well to the above-25 audience: 57 percent of the opening weekend audience was 25 and older; 43 percent was younger than 25.
There was a disconnect between the movie's Cinemascore grade — a C-plus — and its strong numbers.
"The movie is well on its way to not only just a great opening, but a great hold, as well," Bruer said. "We feel very, very confident about its future."
The No. 10 movie at the box office this weekend is Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," which took in an estimated $4.36 million. That brings the Sony Pictures Classics' film's estimated total to $28.4 million — more than double the filmmaker's average gross of $13 million.
On the limited release side, Summit's "A Better Life" took in an estimated $62,000 in four theaters. The documentary "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop," distributed by Abramorama, grossed an estimated $168,000 in its first weekend. It played at 40 locations.
Here's how the top 10 shaped up this weekend:
"Cars 2" ($68 million)
"Bad Teacher" ($31 million)
"Green Lantern" ($18.4 million)
"Super 8" ($12.1 million)
"Mr. Popper's Penguins" ($10.3 million)
"X-Men: First Class" ($6.6 million)
"The Hangover Part 2" ($5.8 million)
"Bridesmaids" ($5.37 million)
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" ($4.7 million)
"Midnight in Paris" ($4.36 million)