10 Animated Films That Drew Big Box Office Bucks

Animated films have been delighting moviegoers for almost as long as the medium has existed, and with several highly anticipated animated movies being released this year, it appears that 2014 won’t be an exception to this long-running tradition. While children and adults enjoy the visual spectacle and family friendly stories that many animated films offer, studios appreciate the substantial box office receipts that hit animated films are capable of generating.

Hollywood has released several particularly profitable animated films over the past six months. Frozen, released in U.S. theaters on November 22, has achieved a total lifetime domestic gross of $400.4 million and set a record for animated films with a worldwide gross of $1.19 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. This year’s critically acclaimed The Lego Movie set a similarly high bar for animated films released in 2014, with a total lifetime domestic gross of $253.2 million and a worldwide gross of $457.6 million, per info from Box Office Mojo. But with less than half of the year gone, studios are hoping to achieve even greater box office success with several upcoming animated films.

How to Train Your Dragon 2, the sequel to 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon, hits theaters on June 13, according to IMDb. Another animated sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue, flies into theaters on July 18. Boxtrolls, a stop-motion animation film based on Alan Snow’s fantasy novel Here Be Monsters! is due to be released on September 26. Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) Big Hero 6, a film adaptation of a Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, is scheduled to be released on November 7.

While it remains to be seen if any of these animated films can match the box office receipts of The Lego Movie or even Frozen, it should be noted that Hollywood has an impressive track record for success when it comes to making a profit on animated films. With that in mind, here are the top 10 highest-grossing animated films released since 1980, according to domestic box office data compiled by Box Office Mojo.

10. Monsters University (2013)

The prequel to 2001’s Monsters, Inc. was a resounding commercial success with a total lifetime domestic gross of $268.5 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film also achieved positive reviews, and it currently has a 78 percent “Certified Fresh” approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film provides the back story for Mike and Sulley, the two main characters from Monsters, Inc.

9. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Beating Monsters University’s box office numbers despite coming out more than 10 years before the prequel, Monsters, Inc. pulled in a total lifetime domestic gross of $290 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The original film garnered rave reviews from the critics, and the title currently holds an impressive 96 percent “Certified Fresh” approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

8. Up (2009)

Featuring the voice talent of Ed Asner, this life-affirming film was beloved by fans and critics alike. Up raked in a total lifetime domestic gross of $293 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Critics at Rotten Tomatoes have made Up the second-highest ranked animated film based on reviews, with a 98 percent “Certified Fresh” approval rating.

7. Shrek the Third (2007)

While the third installment in the Shrek film series received mixed reviews from the critics, it was an unquestionable success at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo, Shrek the Third brought in a total lifetime domestic gross of $322.7 million. However, critics were less generous with their praise than moviegoers were with their wallets. Shrek the Third currently only has a 40 percent approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.

6. Despicable Me 2 (2013)

With a total lifetime domestic gross of $368 million, Despicable Me 2 is one of three films released in 2013 to make the top 10 highest-grossing animated film list, according to Box Office Mojo. Featuring the voice talent of Steve Carell, Despicable Me 2 was the sequel to 2010’s Despicable Me, the 14th highest-grossing animated film since 1980.

5. Finding Nemo (2003)

Just one of Pixar Animation Studios’ many successful films, Finding Nemo achieved an impressive lifetime domestic gross of $340 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Finding Nemo also impressed the critics, taking home the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature of the year, according to IMDb. It appears that time has not diminished the appeal of the film, either, since Rotten Tomatoes has given Finding Nemo the seventh highest ranking of any animated film based on aggregated critical reviews.

4. Frozen (2013)

Released less than six months ago, Frozen is the latest film to make the top 10 list of highest-grossing animated films. While its impressive lifetime domestic gross of $400.4 million gives it a third place ranking in the U.S., Frozen has the added distinction of being the highest-grossing animated film in the world when its substantial overseas gross is included. Per Box Office Mojo, more than 66 percent of this film’s box office gross was achieved overseas, giving Frozen a total worldwide gross of $1.19 billion.

3. Toy Story 3 (2010)

Pixar Animation Studios’ original Toy Story film was the first feature-length computer-animated movie, and its groundbreaking success spawned two sequels, of which Toy Story 3 was the most commercially successful. According to Box Office Mojo, Toy Story 3 pulled in a total lifetime domestic gross of $415 million. Until the unprecedented success of Frozen, Toy Story 3 was also the No. 1 animated film for worldwide gross, with a total of $1.06 billion. Toy Story 3 also ranks third on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of critically acclaimed animated films.

2. The Lion King (1994)

Besides being the oldest animated film to make the top 10 highest-grossing list, The Lion King is also the only film ranked in the top 10 to not rely completely on computer animation techniques. Despite being released nearly 20 years ago, The Lion King holds the No. 2 spot with a total lifetime domestic gross of $422.8 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film also scored big with the critics by winning Academy Awards for Best Original Song and Best Original Score, according to IMDb.

1. Shrek 2 (2004)

For various reasons, it often happens that sequels outshine the original film. Such was the case with Shrek 2, which, like the original, employed the voice talents of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz. Shrek 2 took the domestic box office crown with a total lifetime gross of $441.2 million, according to Box Office Mojo.  Shrek 2 also raked in impressive overseas profits, with a total worldwide lifetime gross of nearly $1 billion.

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