Poor Mater and McQueen: After a 35% Rotten Tomatoes score gave Cars 2 the unhappy distinction of becoming the worst-reviewed Pixar movie of all time, it is now tracking to earn Pixar’s lowest domestic gross since 1998’s A Bug’s Life. Read on after the jump.

Though Cars 2 initially got off to a strong start, making $66 million in its first weekend, it’s been losing audiences faster than Pixar movies usually do. Between its first and second weekends, Cars 2 saw a 60% drop in domestic gross — or 52% if you include Monday, July 4 in the Independence Day weekend numbers. Either way, it’s a significant drop. During this past weekend, its fourth in theaters, the film made $8.4 million, putting it on track to becoming Pixar’s worst domestic box office performance since A Bug’s Life — which earned $10 million in its fourth wide-release weekend.

To put things in perspective, an $8 million fourth weekend isn’t bad, especially considering that it was up against similarly family-focused entertainments like Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Still, as Upcoming Pixar points out, there’s a good chance Cars 2 won’t be hitting the $200 million mark unless it lucks out with a strong Labor Day weekend performance.

The news is especially discouraging as Cars 2‘s $200 million production budget made it one of the most expensive projects in the studio’s history. I wouldn’t predict Pixar giving up on sequels altogether yet, though. Toy Story 3, another $200 million sequel, raked in $415 million domestically to become Pixar’s biggest commercial success.

On a brighter note, Cars 2 seems to be doing somewhat better abroad. Though it has yet to open in several countries, including France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K., it’s already earned a total of $121.6 from foreign markets. In fact, its total grosses in Australia, Brazil, and Mexico are already higher than the total grosses for the first Cars in those countries.

Oh, well. I’m as disappointed in Cars 2‘s critical and commercial failure as anyone else, but as Russ said, “Pixar had to swing and miss sometime.” Even with Cars 2 dragging down the averages, Pixar still has the kind of critical and commercial record that other studios would kill for. And anyway, if the first looks at Brave are any indication, Pixar still hasn’t lost its magic. With any luck, Cars 2‘s less-than-stellar performance on both fronts will become a distant memory soon enough.

[All figures come from Box Office Mojo.]

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