The previous two Cars pictures grossed a combined $1+ billion in worldwide box office, which is itself a superb enough figure, but it’s the merchandising where the real magic resides for the Cars franchise. DVD and Blu-rays sold a mind-boggling $475 million in the USA alone. Digital-HD sales push that figure toward $500 million, and then we can toss in the international sales for both titles and the rental figures worldwide, and we’re talking about probably something in the neighborhood of perhaps $1 billion in revenue. And that revenue is almost pure profit, since the costs are negligible.
Prior to the release of Cars 2, the first film’s total merchandising alone generate $10 billion in sales around the world. That’s in a five year period, mind you. A huge part of this phenomenon is of course the toys — oh, the toy! — which alone provide such a massive revenue stream that it would be worth releasing Cars sequels even if their box office performance were mediocre. Video games, toys, school supplies, clothing, and a plethora of other retail items besides the home entertainment releases are the true driving force behind the success of the Cars franchise.
And I assure you, Cars 3 is going to be another success for the studio, not only in terms of unstoppable merchandising potential and theme park visits (I stopped by Disneyland and checked out Cars Land, which was packed with families), but also box office ahead of the two previous films and critical reviews far more friendly than for the previous sequel.