'Cars 2' hot on the heels of 'Toy Story' for highest merchandising film

Have your children bugged you about the latest Cars 2-branded toy release? If they haven’t, they soon will — after all, the Pixar film is headed to theaters this weekend. Add to that the fact that the brand has built quite a reputation when it comes to film licensing — Cars has raked in $8 billion in toys and other merchandise since the first film’s release in 2006 — and it’s easy to bet that every little tyke’s bedroom will soon be filled with plastic Lightening McQueens and Maters.

But how does Cars 2 compare to other Hollywood projects when it comes to merchandising? Surprisingly, according to numbers compiled for EW by global trade experts Panjiva, it comes second to another popular Pixar brand, Toy Story. Panjiva, which uses the number of monthly shipments to determine a brand’s popularity, notes that, at its peak, a total of 409 shipments of Cars 2 merchandise was imported in May 2011. (Toy Story‘s monthly peak hit 719 shipments in October 2010, shortly after the release of Toy Story 3 and leading up to the holiday season.) But don’t expect it to stay at No. 2 for long: Cars 2 has managed to score the runner-up slot without the film having hit theaters yet, and Panjiva’s numbers don’t even take the first film into consideration. (The company can only calculate shipments for the sequel, and not the franchise as a whole, since a search on the term Cars would yield information on literal vehicles.) Looking at those facts, it’s no surprise Disney anticipates that Cars 2 will top Toy Story to become the largest film licensing property.

And how does it stack up against other recent franchises? Check out the Top 15 list calculated by Panjiva* below.

1. Toy Story: 719 shipments
2. Cars 2: 409 shipments
3. High School Musical: 213 shipments
4. Star Wars: 208 shipments
5. Shrek: 169 shipments
6. Kung Fu Panda: 127 shipments
7. The Dark Knight: 100 shipments
8. Spider-Man: 98 shipments
9. Madagascar: 97 shipments
10. Ice Age: 96 shipments
11. Avatar: 81 shipments
12. Twilight: 74 shipments
13. WALL•E: 52 shipments
14. G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra: 48 shipments
15. Tangled: 37 shipments

*Panjiva only calculates shipments sent from 2007-present.

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

Read more:
PopWatch Confessional: ‘Cars 2′ toys are revving their engines, and I will hip-check you for first dibs

Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • buddymoore

    I love Pixar, but I have absolutely no desire to see this movie. It definitely dissappointed me when this sequel was announced, but reading this article makes me remember that Pixar caters to kids first and foremost and they all seem to love Cars. Even though I wish they did something else, I can’t complain since they’re giving the kids what they want.

  • e4ia

    …which explains why they made a sequel to the most disappointing and least satisfying Pixar film…because it raked in major dough with merchandising. When you have to wait at least a year between each Pixar film, I was very disappointed when I heard that this was their next project. First time ever that I will be skipping seeing a Pixar film in the theater. I’m not even sure if I’ll be interested in renting it.

    • MelindaB

      “the most disappointing and least satisfying Pixar film”
      That’s a matter of opinion. My family enjoyed the movie, and it’s one of my dad’s favorite movies; not favorite animated movies, favorite movies, period. There was as much humor and pathos in this movie as in any other Pixar movie. I’d say that A Bug’s Life is my least favorite Pixar movie.

      • e4ia

        I agree that it’s all a matter of opinion (I happen to love “A Bug’s Life”). And I know that a few people really love “Cars”. What I was trying to point out was that “Cars” was the least well-received Pixar film critically (Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 74% rating while every other Pixar film was in the mid to high 90’s) and, in most polls (including one on EW a while back), it ranks as one of the viewer’s least favorite Pixar films. It just seemed odd that, with it’s moderate reception compared to their other films, that they would choose “Cars” to do a sequel to instead making a different film or a different sequel. But with the merchandising angle, it starts to make sense.

    • jennab

      I believe you are absolutely wrong; they made the sequel because John Lasseter LOVES cars! I mean, he is a car FANATIC and they got to include all kinds of cool European sports cars in this sequel. Does it hurt that the merchandising is through the roof…no. Probably why you’ll never see a Ratotuille sequel, but still…money is not the pure motivator.

  • Bart

    You’ll want to see it just for the Toy Story short at the beginning. Its awesome!

    • e4ia

      I’m sure it is. Would really like to see it. But not willing to pay $14-$16 just to see a short.

  • dee-dee

    I work in the Toy department of a store, trust me it’s hell.


    I only hope they make toys out of ALL the characters this time. Our grandson had all that were available but there was no Frank. Had to pay $200 for one from a dude who was smart enough to make them himself and sell on ebay.Yes, we realize that was crazy to do.

  • PN

    Oh my goodness, the Cars 2 toys and merchandise are EVERYWHERE! Even bigger than the first Cars movie in 2006! They have a huge display area at Target about those products. It’s really outdoing Toy Story, which has really cooled down lately. And all this before the movie comes out on June 24. They’ve really hyped this movie some 35 to 56 days before its June release, even during the NBA Finals and some sports events.

  • uggsale

    Thanks for interesting blog post. You guys are always provide information that it makes it impossible not to want to buy your next product ;I can¡¯t wait to see what you guys come up with based on all your research and data that you gather.

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