Start your engines, Pixar’s “Cars” franchise is burning rubber once more.
As part of the Disney+ Day festivities, the title of the forthcoming “Cars” series was announced, along with the logline and release window. The series was vaguely alluded to at last year’s Investors Day extravaganza but there are our first concrete details. Mater himself, Larry the Cable Guy, was on hand to officially unveil “Cars on the Road,” which will exclusively stream on Disney+ in 2022.
The new series follows Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson will be reprising his role from the films) and Mater as they embark on a cross country road trip. Pixar CCO Pete Docter said that the fun will come from getting to experience things that we’ve all experienced on a road trip, but from the point of view of the cars. He also described it as a “quirky expansion” of the “Cars” world, which at this point includes three feature films, countless theme park attractions (and an entire land at Disney California Adventure), a series of short films (“Cars Toons”), and oodles of merchandise that was, for a while, one of the crown jewels of the Disney Consumer Products portfolio.
“Cars” debuted back in 2006, introducing us to a world populated exclusively with anthropomorphic automobiles. Wilson starred as hot shot racecar Lightning McQueen, who finds himself trapped in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. That’s where he learns to value the simplicity of life, and connects with a group of oddballs, including Larry the Cable Guy’s tow truck Mater. The sequel, 2011’s “Cars 2” was the rare Pixar misstep; it turned the charming original into a globetrotting spy comedy and lost much of the humor and heart that made the original so special. (Original director John Lasseter stepped in to replace a filmmaker that wasn’t working out, and it coincided with the death of Lasseter’s father. So it wasn’t the easiest time either.) The somewhat underrated “Cars 3” hit theaters in 2017, and while it recaptured much of the magic of the original “Cars,” it was seen as something of a box office disappointment, and plans for a fourth film quietly canceled.
Of course, the world of “Cars” was bound to continue. Between the investment in theme park shows and attractions (like the genuinely jaw-dropping Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure) and the fact that merchandise sales used to surpass $2 billion annually, this is a franchise Disney is keen to keep refueling.