With 400,000 Americans showing up every year at the Indy 500 and 200,000 more buying tickets to see NASCAR’s premiere event The Daytona 500, you would think that the most creative minds in Hollywood would be looking for a way to cash in with more movies about car racing and car culture. NASCAR has an estimated 75 million fans, and it is second only to the National Football League in terms of television ratings, so where are all the good racing movies?

Universal seems to have answered that question by getting its successful street racing franchise back into the fast lane this weekend with Fast & Furious. The movie, which reunites Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez for the first time since 2001’s original surprise blockbuster, has exploded to a high octane $28M or so on Friday and that could mean a $65M opening weekend. That would make it the all-time #1 opening for a car racing movie.

1. Fast & Furious (2009) – $65M opening (projected)
2. Cars – $60.1M opening
3. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) – $50.4M opening
4. Talladega Nights – $47M opening
5. The Fast & The Furious (2001) – $40M opening
6. The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) – $24M opening
7. Speed Racer – $18.5M opening
8. Days of Thunder – $15.5M opening
9. Herbie: Fully Loaded – $12.7M opening
10. Death Race – $12.6M opening

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Pixar and Prince of Persia Lego Coming


The LEGO Group have announced a new licensing cross-over with Disney Consumer Products (didn’t they invent Robocop?). Set to launch in 2010 are three new lines of interlocking blocks based upon the Prince of Persia movie, Toy Story and Cars. Yep – even more merchandising gold will be reaped by the Cars behemoth.

The first of the brick sets to launch will be the Toy Story and Toy Story 2 kits, out in January of next year. Ouch. Just missing Xmas like that? They must have their reasons but my next letter to Santa will be a little shorter for it. The follow-on Toy Story 3 bricks will hit in May 2010.

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High Res Photos: Pixar’s Tokyo Mater

Disney has sent us high resolution photos of Pixar’s new 3D short film Tokyo Mater, which will be attached to Bolt beginning December 12th.

Full press release and four more photos after the jump.

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See Pixar’s Cars in 3D on December 12th 2008

No, John Lasseter’s Cars is not being re-released in 3D on December 12th, but you will be able to go to your local multiplex and see Pixar’s first short film in Digital Disney 3D. The Cars Toons short Tokyo Mater will be attached to Disney’s Bolt as the film enters its fourth week of release.  In the six minute short film, Mater the tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy) tells Lightning McQueen about his adventure drift-racing in downtown Tokyo.

If you remember, Pixar also did something like this with A Bugs Life, where they added extra blooper reels to the credits in an attempt to get moviegoers to return to the theater again. Bolt is a really great film, but it suffered from being released the same week as Twilight. With the addition of this new Pixar 3D short film, Disney is hoping to recover from the first week’s slump. Also, if you haven’t seen Bolt yet, you should know that the trailer for Pixar’s Up is also attached, presented in 3D.

You can see some photos from the short film on LatinoReview, ComingSoon, and AICN.

Flashback: John Lasseter on Charlie Rose

The other day when I posted Charlie Rose’s interview with the cast and crew of Milk, I commented on how much I loved long form interviews. /Film reader Falcon D sent over a few clips of animation director turned Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief creative officer John Lasseter on the show over the years. Anyone who is a fan of Animation, Disney, or more specifically Pixar will probably be interested in checking these out. First up is an October 1996 discussion with a much younger looking Lasseter joined by a much healthier looking Steve Jobs.

After the jump is a June 2006 interview with Lasseter, who is interviewed by guest host Peter Travers.
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Cars Toons Clips

I’m not sure if anyone watched them, but Pixar aired the first of their series of Cars animated shorts aptly titled Cars Toons this week on Toon Disney (I’m not even sure if I have that channel?). Each of the three shorts that have been produced thus far feature Mater the rusty old tow truck, recounting tall tales from his earlier days. Cars was probably my least favorite of the Pixar films so far, so it might come as no surprise that I’m not super impressed by the Cars Toons. But hey, it’s Pixar, and I’m sure for every person like me that isn’t enthused, there are 100 little kids playing with little Cars toys. You can check out three clips from the three cartoons embedded after the jump. They appear to be from of an interview feature on MSN.
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During the animation presentation of the Walt Disney Showcase, John Lasseter announced that Cars 2 would be pushed forward to the Summer of 2011, from the film’s previously announced 2012 release slot. He also revealed that the idea for a sequel came to him as he was traveling the world doing publicity for the original movie. He wondered what the characters of Cars would think about all these different locales, with the weird traffic situations and strange foreign automobiles. The sequel will follow Mater the tow truck who gets his passport and takes a worldwide trip with Lightning McQueen.

A series of short interstitial Cars-based cartoons titled Car-toons will begin to air on the Disney Channel. One or two might even be shown theatrical before Disney released films. The shorts are structured as Mater’s Tall Tales, and each new short will feature a new outrageous story. The first short in the series was shown. Mater explained to Lightning how he use to be a fire truck, and even saved McQueen from a burning building. The next two shorts will feature the tall tales of how Mater use to be a daredevil (ala Evil Knievel) and a bull fighter. I wasn’t a big fan of these shorts, and Cars was my least favorite Pixar film to date (aside from the Route 66 stuff).

The Incredibles 1.5 Comes to Comic Books

For me, The Incredibles is the most worthy Pixar film deserving of the sequel treatment. But for one reason or another, Pixar would rather make Cars 2 (boo) and another Toy Story film (which to be fair, could be good… but seems unnecessary) . Instead, The Incredibles sequel (which is being referred to by writer Mark Waid as “Incredibles 1.5″) is being wasted as a comic book series, which will begin to hit comic book store shelves in April. Waid reveals to MTV that the story will take place shortly after the events of the original Brad Bird film, and the first four-issue arc will tell the story of Mr. Incredible, whose powers are begining to fade. Basically, he’s getting older, and he doesn’t want to tell his family or go to the doctor.

Six issues have been written, Darwyn Cooke is doing the cover art, but no artist has been hired yet for the actual inside art. Apparently the plan is to launch other Pixar franchises as monthly comic book series. Toy Story is next, with eventual plans to have six different titles released per month. I’m guessing the line-up will be: The Incredibles, Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, WALL-E, Finding Nemo and Cars As much as I’m actually looking forward to these comics, I’d disappointed that Disney won’t take The Incredibles to the big screen one more time. The storyline in the comic book seems perfect for a sequel. It also seems like they are attracting big name comic talent to provide the art for the books. I’d much rather see some of the in house Pixar arts provide something more unique, rather than the same old comic book style art.

WALL-E in Toy Story? Fake

A new video has turned up online claiming that if you look closely, you can find WALL-E in the background of certain scenes in Toy Story, The Incredibles and Cars. And I wouldn’t put it past the guys at Emmeryville. If you watched the teaser trailer for WALL-E than you know that the cute little robot was just one of the creations to come out of a now infamous lunch that was also responsible for Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc and a Bugs Life. So it’s not like WALL-E was created yesterday. Pixar is known to throw a ton of self-rerential easter eggs in their movies. Jim Hill even compiled a great visual guide cataloging many of them. But did WALL-E really make an appearance in an earlier Pixar film? Watch the video below.
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