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Cars 3 is a 2017 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. It is the third installment in the Cars film franchise, and sequel to Cars 2 (2011). Directed by Brian Fee in his directorial debut, it stars Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Guido Quaroni, John Ratzenberger, Cheech Marin, Michael Wallis, Paul Dooley, Jenifer Lewis and Katherine Helmond, reprising their voice roles from the first two films, along with Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer, Nathan Fillion, Kerry Washington and Lea DeLaria, who voice new characters. In the film, Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation that he is still the best race car in the world.

Cars 3
Three anthropomorphic cars race along a beach. The first car is red with the yellow number "95" on his side, the second is yellow, and the third is black, with a pier the is visible from behind them
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian Fee
Produced by Kevin Reher
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by Randy Newman[2]
  • Jeremy Lasky
  • Kim White
Edited by
  • Jason Hudak
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • May 23, 2017 (2017-05-23) (Kannapolis)
  • June 16, 2017 (2017-06-16) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $175 million[4][5]
Box office $299.5 million[6]

The film was released on June 16, 2017, has grossed over $299 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews, with many critics considering it an improvement over its predecessor.[7]



Lightning McQueen, now a seven-time Piston Cup racing legend, suddenly finds himself overshadowed by Jackson Storm, an arrogant rookie who belongs to a new generation of racers that use the latest technology to improve their performance. This results in Lightning's fellow veterans either being retired or fired by their sponsors and replaced by the new rookies. In the final race of the season, as he tries to catch up to Storm and the other leaders, Lightning loses control and suffers a violent, nearly fatal rollover crash, leaving him badly injured. 4 months later, while recovering in Radiator Springs, Lightning isolates himself from his friends and spends his time watching footage of his late mentor, Doc Hudson. Confronted by his girlfriend, Sally Carrera, Lightning fears being forced into retirement as Doc was. Rusty and Dusty, the owners of Lightning's Rust-eze racing team, send him to a new state-of-the-art racing center, much to his surprise. When he arrives, he learns that they have sold Rust-eze to new owner Sterling, who assigns him to work with trainer Cruz Ramirez. Lightning eventually becomes impatient and annoyed with Cruz's methods and attempts to use a high-tech racing simulator, only to cause severe damage to the equipment.

Convinced that Lightning is no longer capable of winning, Sterling is ready to take him off the racing circuit and use him for product endorsements. Lightning offers a deal instead – if Lightning wins the first race of the upcoming season in Florida, he can decide when he retires; otherwise, he will retire immediately. Sterling accepts the deal but assigns Cruz to work with him one-on-one. Instead of improving his own top speed, Lightning spends most of the day helping Cruz get used to racing on sandy coastline outside the training center. For inspiration, they travel to a dirt track on which Doc raced, but inadvertently end up competing in a demolition derby, which Cruz ultimately wins. Angry at the apparent waste of training time, Lightning vents his frustration at Cruz, who reveals that she had wanted to race professionally, but never started a race because she felt outclassed. She resigns as McQueen's trainer and begins traveling back to the training center.

Learning that Storm has set a new lap record, Lightning calls his best friend, Mater, for advice. Mater suggests that he track down Doc's mentor, Smokey. Lightning catches up to Cruz and convinces her to come along, and the two travel to Doc's hometown of Thomasville, Georgia,a where they meet Smokey and several of Doc's old friends. Smokey reveals that even though Doc never raced again after his crash, he found a new happiness in training Lightning. Smokey and his friends teach Lightning and Cruz how to drive smarter than Storm, with Cruz serving as a sparring partner for Lightning. During a final practice race, Lightning has a flashback to his crash, shaking his confidence.

At the race in Florida, Lightning is encouraged by Smokey and his friends and gradually pushes up through the ranks. Still convinced Lightning cannot win, Sterling spots Cruz in the pits and orders her to return to the racing center to begin prepping another racer for the following week’s event. Lightning overhears the exchange and decides that Cruz is the answer to beating Storm. Entering the pits, Lightning has his pit crew outfit Cruz for racing, complete with his racing number, giving her the chance to finally race. Cruz uses Lightning’s coaching and Smokey’s advice to catch the leaders. Feeling threatened, Storm tries to intimidate Cruz, even pinning her to the wall during the final lap of the race. Instead, Cruz uses the wall to vault over Storm and take first place. She and Lightning are both credited with the victory since both raced with the winning number. Cruz quits her job with Sterling and accepts an offer from Tex Dinoco to race for his Dinoco racing team.

Later, at an exhibition race in Radiator Springs, Lightning and Cruz reveal they have adopted Doc's old racing colors and number, respectively, to honor his memory. Tex Dinoco informs the group that he has bought Rust-eze from Sterling, and Lightning decides to continue racing and train Cruz as well.

In a post-credits scene, Mater is in his junkyard, when his phone rings, he accidentally knocks over his reception antenna and his phone goes dead.



On August 17, 2013, Michael Wallis (voice of Sheriff in the films) told radio listeners that Cars 3 would go back to Route 66, and would also include Route 99.[24] At the Disney stockholder meeting on March 18, 2014, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Pixar had begun pre-production on Cars 3.[25] In October 2014, Pixar's chief creative officer John Lasseter revealed at the Tokyo International Film Festival that the film would feature a tribute to Hayao Miyazaki's film The Castle of Cagliostro, in a form of an old Citroën 2CV.[26]

On October 8, 2015, the film's release date was announced to be June 16, 2017.[27] On June 10, 2016, during an interview, John Lasseter, director of the previous Cars films, promised a very emotional story, similar in tone to the first film.[28] Co-writer Kiel Murray, who also co-wrote the original Cars, said of the return to the series roots, "With these franchises you always want to know who it's about. The first movie was about McQueen, and the second movie was a sort of off-ramp to the Mater story. We wanted to get back to the McQueen story. When we looked at what would be next for him, we wondered what that would be like both as an athlete, and also for what he was dealing with in the rest of his life."[29]

On January 5, 2017, it was announced that Armie Hammer and Cristela Alonzo would voice Jackson Storm and Cruz Ramirez, respectively.[9]


Cars 3 was released in theaters on June 16, 2017 in the United States, in 3D[27] and selected IMAX theaters,[30] accompanied by the Pixar short film Lou.[31] The film had a special screening for the NASCAR industry in Kannapolis, North Carolina on May 23, 2017.[32] The world premiere was held in Anaheim, California on June 10, 2017.[33]

Box officeEdit

As of August 18, 2017, Cars 3 has grossed $148.6 million in the United States and Canada and $150.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $299.5 million, against a production budget of $175 million.[6]

In North America, Cars 3 was released alongside Rough Night, 47 Meters Down and All Eyez on Me, and was projected to gross $55–60 million from 4,256 theaters in its opening weekend.[34][35] It made $2.8 million from Thursday night previews and $19.5 million on its first day. It went on to open to $53.7 million, finishing first at the box office and dethroning two-time first place finisher Wonder Woman. Cars 3 had the lowest opening of the series, but nevertheless was the 16th Pixar film to debut at number one.[36] In its second weekend, the film grossed $24.1 million, dropping to third place, behind Transformers: The Last Knight and Wonder Woman.[37] In its third weekend the film made $9.7 million ($14.1 million over the five-day 4th of July holiday weekend), dropping to 5th.[38]

Internationally, the film made $21.3 million from its opening in 23 markets, which was 9% more than Cars 2 and 29% more than Cars.[39]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 68% based on 176 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Cars 3 has an unexpectedly poignant story to go with its dazzling animation, suggesting Pixar's most middle-of-the-road franchise may have a surprising amount of tread left."[40] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 59 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[41] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[36]

In his review for Variety, Owen Gleiberman wrote, "Cars 3 is a friendly, rollicking movie made with warmth and dash, and to the extent that it taps our primal affection for this series, it more than gets the job done. Yet in many ways it’s the tasteful version of a straight-to-DVD (or streaming) sequel."[42] David Fear of Rolling Stone gave the film a positive review, saying: "There's an emotional resonance to this story about growing old, chasing glory days and the joy of passing the baton that leaves the other two films choking on its digitally rendered dust. The end goal this time out isn't just to sell a few more toys and Lightning McQueen lunchboxes. It's actually tapping into something deeper than a corporate bottom line."[43] Mike Ryan of Uproxx called the film 'The Rocky III Of The Cars Franchise,' and wrote "There’s a hint of sadness that seems to be present throughout Cars 3 that gives it a little more weight than the previous installments."[44]

Alonso Duralde of TheWrap gave the film a mixed review, saying: "As a spawner of merchandise, Cars 3 fires on all pistons but, as a movie, it's a harmless but never stimulating 109 minutes."[45] Vicky Roach gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying: "Returning to the iconic, backroads nostalgia of the original film, Cars 3 puts the flashy, unpopular middle film squarely in its rear vision mirror. The route that the filmmakers take might be familiar, but after gunning it, they take the corners like pros."[46]


There are two soundtracks released for the film. The original motion picture soundtrack features rock/pop songs featured in the film, while the original score soundtrack features the score composed and conducted by Randy Newman.[47]

Video gameEdit

A tie-in video game has been announced to accompany the film's release. It was developed by Avalanche Software, which was shut down by Disney in 2016, but was acquired and revived by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, it was released on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Xbox One on June 13, 2017 in North America,[48] in Europe and Australasia on July 14, 2017,[49] and in Japan on July 20, 2017. As Disney no longer develops and publishes video games after the release of Disney Infinity 3.0, Warner Bros. published the tie-in game.[50]


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^a : Decals and logos in the credits establish that Thomasville is in Georgia.

External linksEdit