Can’t wait to drive to see “Cars”!

“Cars” to box office also-rans: Eat my dust
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – “Cars” is racing into theaters Friday and is expected to take the checkered flag at the weekend box office.
The seventh film from Walt Disney Co. and its newly acquired Pixar Animation Studios partner revolves around a talking race car named Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), who learns some valuable life lessons during an enforced pit stop in a sleepy town.
Also lending their voices to the colorful cast of computer-animated vehicles are Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin and racing great Richard Petty. The G-rated tale is directed by John Lasseter, who last took the helm for 1999’s “Toy Story 2,” which opened with $57 million and went on to gross $246 million.
The debut of “Cars” in 3,985 venues marks the first release from Disney and Pixar in more than a year and a half, so there is some pent-up demand for the film. Their last collaboration, “The Incredibles,” opened in November 2004 with $70 million and finished with $261 million.
Since their first film together, 1995’s “Toy Story,” Disney and Pixar have generated quite a box office track record, racking up nearly $1.5 billion in gross domestic receipts alone. The company’s biggest-grossing film is “Finding Nemo.” The undersea adventure bowed with $70 million in 2003 and left North American theaters with $340 million.
The wheels are turning in “Cars’ ” favor as far as the critics go — getting the thumbs up from the vast majority of reviewers nationwide, according to
Reigning champ “The Break-Up,” which surpassed expectations with a $39.1 million bow last weekend, and Tuesday release “The Omen” are tracking to converge on the No. 2 spot this weekend. “Omen” debuted with a record single-day gross for a Tuesday with $12.6 million, thanks largely to its 6/6/06 marketing campaign. The horror remake, about the rise of the Antichrist in the form of a young boy named Damien, has collected more than $20 million heading into the weekend.
In a moderate-release counter programming strategy, indie distributor Picturehouse’s “A Prairie Home Companion” will debut in 760 locations. The PG-13 comedy-drama is a fictional story based on the nationally syndicated and long-running radio show from Garrison Keillor, who wrote the screenplay and also stars in the film.
Robert Altman directed “Companion,” which boasts a familiar ensemble cast including Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin.
“Companion” unfolds on the final night of the show. The film is targeting adult, upscale moviegoers.