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 the sequel to Cars 2 (2011). Directed by Brian Fee, 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.
The film was released on June 16, 2017, and has grossed over $251 million worldwide. It received generally positive reviews, with many critics considering it an improvement over its predecessor.
As the Piston Cup season progresses, Lightning McQueen, now a seven-time Piston Cup racing legend, 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. Lightning’s fellow veterans either retire or are fired by their sponsors, to be replaced by new-generation racers. He falls behind the pack in the final race of the season; while trying to catch up, he loses control and suffers a violent, nearly fatal rollover crash, leaving him badly injured.
Four months later, while recovering in Radiator Springs after the violent crash, a primer-coated Lightning watches footage of the crash that ended the career of his late mentor, Doc Hudson. He tells his girlfriend, Sally Carrera, that he does not want to be forced into retirement as Doc was and decides to start training again, looking for new ways to regain his edge.
Rusty and Dusty, the owners of Lightning’s Rust-eze racing team, send him to a newly opened 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 he wins the first race of the new upcoming season in Florida, he can decide whether to keep racing or retire at his discretion; otherwise, he will retire immediately. Sterling accepts the deal and sends Cruz to work with him one-on-one at a nearby beach.
Instead of improving his own top speed to beat Storm’s 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, leading to Lightning being humiliated on national television. When he rages at her for wasting his time and accidentally breaks her trophy, she gets upset and reveals that she had wanted to race professionally when she was younger, but never started a race because she felt outclassed by the other cars. She leaves to make the trip back to the racing center on her own.
After seeing a report on Storm’s new speed record, Lightning calls his best friend, Mater, for advice. Mater suggests that he track down Doc’s mentor Smokey. Lightning catches up to Cruz, but she refuses to go with him, after what he said to her before. Lightning tries to make it up to her, by fixing her trophy, and dancing to help her get on Mack. Cruz, getting impatient by Lightning’s dancing and singing, agrees and the two travel to Doc’s hometown of Thomasville, where they meet Smokey and several of Doc’s old friends. Accepting the fact that he is not the racer he once was, he allows them to coach him in methods to outsmart Storm instead of trying to beat him with sheer speed. Smokey reveals that even though Doc never raced again after his crash, he found a new happiness in training Lightning. During a final practice race, Lightning has a flashback to his crash and loses to Cruz, who has been taking some of Smokey’s lessons to heart.
At the race in Florida, Lightning is surprised to find Smokey and Doc’s old friends cheering him on, despite him falling behind to the next-generation racers. Several laps into the race, Sterling spots Cruz among them and orders her to return to the racing center. Lightning calls her back to the speedway, has his pit crew outfit her for racing, and gives her his number so she can take his place. Using both Smokey’s advice and her own, Lightning coaches her through the pack until she is in second place behind Storm. On the last lap, Storm rams Cruz into the wall, but she flips away using one of Doc’s old techniques and lands ahead of him to win the race, much to the amazement of McQueen. She and Lightning are both credited with the victory, and she quits her job with Sterling to accept an offer to race for Dinoco.
Later, in Radiator Springs, Lightning and Cruz put on an exhibition race for their friends. They have adopted Doc’s old racing colors and number, respectively, to honor his memory. Dinoco has bought Rust-eze from Sterling, and Lightning decides to continue racing and train Cruz as well.
In a post-credits scene, Mater is working in his lot, and when his cell phone rings, he inadvertently knocks over his reception antenna, and the phone goes dead, much to his dismay.
Directed by Brian Fee
Produced by Kevin Reher
Jonathan E. Stewart
Larry the Cable Guy
Music by Randy Newman
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
May 23, 2017 (Kannapolis)
June 16, 2017 (United States)
Country United States
Budget $175 million
Box office $251 million