‘Cars 3’ stalled by critics on road to Oscars

The “Cars” franchise of films has proved profitable for Pixar but has done little in the way of winning awards for this animation powerhouse. The newest installment, “Cars 3,” which pulls into theaters on Friday (June 16) is likely to go down the same road.

The original “Cars,” met with general critical approval in 2006, with scores of 74 at Rotten Tomatoes and 73 at MetaCritic. It took in $244 million in the U.S. and Canada and translated that box office success into an Oscar bid for Best Animated Feature. However, it lost to “Happy Feet.”

The first sequel, “Cars 2,” was deemed a disappointment by critics in 2011, rating 46 among the top tier at Rotten Tomatoes and 57 with MetaCritic. It had the worst domestic gross ($191 million) for a Pixar movie since “A Bug’s Life” in 1998 ($162 million). And while Pixar had owned the Animated Feature Oscar for the previous four years — “Ratatouille” (2007), “WALL-E” (2008), “Up” (2009) and “Toy Story 3” (2010) — “Cars 2” did not even reap a bid.

“Cars 3” has done slightly better in terms of reviews than “Cars 2,” scoring 62 at Rotten Tomatoes and 60 at MetaCritic. While the original and first sequel were directed by Oscar winner John Lasseter (“Toy Story”), “Cars 3” marks the directorial debut of Brian Fee, who was a storyboard artist on the prior two picture.

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