- Associated Press - Sunday, June 26, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Pixar Animation remains undefeated at the box-office races.

The Disney unit’s animated sequel “Cars 2” cruised to a No. 1 finish with a $68 million opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. That makes 12 wins in a row for Pixar since the company’s first feature film, 1995’s “Toy Story.”

“It couldn’t be any better than that. What an unbelievable track record these guys have,” said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney.

“Cars 2” added $42.9 million in 18 overseas markets, giving it a worldwide total of $110.9 million.

Domestically, “Cars 2” nearly matched the $68.1 million debut of Disney-Pixar’s “Up” two years ago, though it was well below the company’s record of $110.3 million for last year’s “Toy Story 3.”

The original “Cars” had a $60.1 million debut in 2006, but factoring in today’s higher admission prices, it sold more tickets than “Cars 2.”

Premiering in second-place was Cameron Diaz’s classroom comedy “Bad Teacher” with $31 million. The Sony Pictures release added $12.9 million overseas in about 10 countries.

The previous weekend’s No. 1 flick, Ryan Reynolds’ “Green Lantern,” fell to third-place with $18.4 million. That was off a steep 65 percent from its revenues over opening weekend, raising the domestic total for the Warner Bros. superhero tale to $89.3 million.

Both new wide releases came in ahead of industry projections, which had pegged “Cars 2” at an opening of around $60 million and “Bad Teacher” at about $25 million.

“Cars 2” features Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy reprising their voice roles for race car Lightning McQueen and tow truck Mater as the two are caught up in a spy adventure during an international racing tour.

The movie overcame unusually harsh reviews for Pixar, whose films include such critical darlings as “Ratatouille,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles” and “WALL-E.”

Disney’s Viane said audiences gave “Cars 2” top grades in exit surveys, a sign that the movie should have a long life at theaters like previous Pixar flicks.

“I’m always concerned when it comes to dollars and cents. What does the paying public think?” Viane said.

With global settings that include Japan, Italy, France and Great Britain, “Cars 2” also has strong prospects as it continues to roll out overseas.

The international haul for “Cars 2” included $9.3 million in Russia, $8.1 million in Mexico and $7.6 million in Brazil.

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