Thanks for a balanced, well articulated article on something that has been driving me CRAZY all summer long. By any measure, Cars is a SUCCESS! It has grossed $240 million to date, which is the number 2 movie of the year! Last year, it would have been #4, out-grossing such blockbusters as King Kong and War of the Worlds. Despite it's "under-performance", it is still one of the top ten animated films of all time, and one of the top ten films ever released by Disney.
No, it did not surpass Finding Nemo, but how could it? It faced more direct animation competition than any other film in the era of cgi animation. And it beat the pants off them all. It came on the heels of Over the Hedge, and then faced in rapid succession Monster House, The Ant Bully, and Barnyard. In no other summer has there been such a glut of animated fare. And Cars beat the field hands down. I have no doubt that without some of the increased competition, Cars' gross would have been even higher.
And let's not forget all the downstream revenues from consumer products and licensing. There's no debate that Cars has been a huge success there, and that's exactly the kind of success Iger was looking for when he took over -- success in one area of the company that spills over and drives success in other segments of the company.
"I'm working on changing Hollywood...at the studio that fired me twice."
I also believe that Cars has been under appreciated. This year there were SO many animated cartoon out. There was a lot of competition for the dollars young families have. So I think that Cars did really well and will continue to do well in the future. I think that the real reason so much negative press has happened on the film was the high cost of purchasing Pixar. So many analysts thought it was too much. I believe that it was a good deal. But some want to judge the whole Pixar deal by this one movie. I think that the Pixar purchase will continue to pay off for many decade to come (as long as Disney lets Pixar be Pixar. If marketing comes in and start screening scripts for "marketability" then all is lost!)
Jiminy Cricket Fan