Hit earns just 40% of B.O. from format

If the stellar start for “Cars 2″ teaches us anything, it’s to never underestimate the power of boys and their toys.

But that’s just part of the weekend’s B.O. takeaway.

It seems interest for the industry’s newest toy — 3D — continues to plateau at the multiplexes, driven home by another meh opening 3D perf, with “Cars 2″ earning just 40% from screening in the format. That’s low even for family pics, which typically collect a smaller 3D percentage compared to fanboy pics.

Last weekend, Warner Bros.’ “Green Lantern” tallied 45% of its opening from 3D; Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 2″ — the most recent 3D toon to bow prior to “Cars 2″ — debuted with 46% from the format, and that was without Imax. (“Toy Story 3″ opened around this time last year with 60% of its domestic bow from 3D.)

For “Cars 2,” which opened at 4,115 locations, including 2,508 in 3D, there are several pic-specific points worth making.

First, the toon’s 3D presentation received an A CinemaScore rating vs. the pic’s overall A- rating (that could be good news for 3D as the film enters holdover mode). Also, “Cars 2″ launched at several hundred drive-in theaters, of which only a handful in the U.S. are 3D-equipped, according to Disney.

3D still sees solid perfs overseas, especially in China and Russia. Latter country generated the most overseas biz for “Cars 2″ this weekend with $9.3 million — the biggest Pixar debut ever there. Disney hasn’t yet set a date for “Cars 2″ in China.

But the summer’s most important 3D barometers are now on deck: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” launches Stateside on Tuesday, followed by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ on July 15.

Unlike “Cars 2,” which faced an uphill battle with 3D and family auds, bizzers have pegged “Transformers 3″ and “Harry Potter” as potential 3D watersheds, looking to either film for a much-needed 3D jolt among general moviegoers.

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