When it comes to animated movies, Disney is internationally recognized as one of the most groundbreaking and consistently successful studios in the history of cinema. Between Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, the House of Mouse has own dozens of Oscars and grossed billions of dollars at the box office around the world.
Despite the fact that Disney has certainly gone through certain rough decades during its existence, the studio seems as healthy as ever, banking not only on landmark sequels such as Toy Story 4 and Frozen II, but also on original animated features like Onward and Soul. Curious about which movies made the most money for Disney over the years? Find out below!
10 MONSTERS UNIVERSITY - $744 Million
Directed by Dan Scanlon, Monsters University was Pixar’s first-ever prequel, as we followed the protagonists of 2001’s Monsters, Inc. during their college years. While there were 12 years between the two installments, audiences were certainly not any less eager to see Sully and Mike on the big screen once again.
All in all, Monsters University opened to an $82 million weekend and went on to gross $744 million at the box office around the world, making it Disney’s 10th most successful animated feature ever. While there are no talks of a third Monsters, Inc. installment, Pixar has definitely teased fans with possible cameos.
9 COCO - $807 Million
Lee Unkrich has had a long history at Pixar, having co-directed Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo before finally landing Toy Story 3 – his solo directorial debut. In 2017, Unkrich had yet another outing in the studio with Coco, which became a massive international hit.
Telling the story of 12-year-old Miguel spending the Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico, Coco grossed $807 million internationally at the box office. Moreover, the movie won the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (for “Remember Me”). Despite its Latin-centric storyline, Coco’s biggest box office outside of North America came from China, where the film made $189 million.
8 INSIDE OUT - $857 Million
It is no secret that 2015’s Inside Out was a very hard animated feature to pull off. After all, having human emotions as film protagonists seemed like a stretch, even for an animated studio. Thankfully, director Pete Doctor and screenwriters Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley were able to get the movie made, capturing the hearts and minds of many fans around the world.
To this day, Inside Out is still one of Disney-Pixar’s highest-grossing animated films of all time, having reached a worldwide gross of $857 million at the box office. Additionally, the movie was incredibly well-received by critics. Besides the usual Best Animated Feature nomination at the Academy Awards (an award that it won) that Pixar is used to receiving, Inside Out was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, an award that rarely takes animated features into consideration.
7 FINDING NEMO - $940 Million
In 2003, Pixar was very invested on making movies that would appeal not only to children, but also to their parents and other adults. With Finding Nemo, the studio proved that it was very capable of doing just so.
Around the world, Finding Nemo has grossed $940 million at the box office, coming very close to entering the billion-dollar club. However, it is important to note that it seemed inconceivable for animated features to make over a billion dollars in 2003, meaning that Nemo’s box office gross was definitely considered a major success for Disney and Pixar.
6 THE LION KING - $968 Million
There is only one movie that came out before the year 2000 that is still among the highest-grossing animated films ever. And is it really a surprise to anybody that we’re talking about 1994’s The Lion King?
Over the years, The Lion King has grossed a total of $968 million around the world, making it one of the most successful non-Pixar animated features from Disney. With so much money behind it, it comes as no surprise that this film inspired Broadway shows, theme park attractions, and even a 2019 remake that is poised to break ground between the live-action and animation genres.
5 ZOOTOPIA - $1.023 Billion
The five highest-grossing Disney animated movies ever have all reached a billion dollars around the world, and this list begins with 2016’s Zootopia.
After grossing $75 million during just its opening weekend, Zootopia went on to make $1.023 billion internationally, solidifying the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ return to its original form. However, it is important to note that Zootopia was not the first-ever animated film to reach the billion-dollar mark (more on that later). Instead, this movie just proved to Hollywood that the animation genre could continuously make a lot of money without having to rely on sequels to do so.
4 FINDING DORY - $1.029 Billion
Thanks to the astounding success of Finding Dory, it so happens that Finding Nemo is only Disney animated movie franchise that has all of its installments on this Top 10 list. Released in 2016, this sequel grossed $1.029 billion across the globe. On its opening weekend alone, Dory made $135 million at the box office.
It certainly feels like the 13 years between Finding Nemo and Finding Dory didn’t mean a thing for Disney fans. While there are no reports regarding a third installment as of yet, one simply has to look at the four Toy Story movies to figure out that Pixar is keen on keeping its franchises going if a good new story can be told.
3 TOY STORY 3 - $1.066 Billion
Toy Story 3 was the first-ever animated movie to make over a billion dollars, grossing a worldwide total of $1.066 billion at the box office. This 2010 movie not only established Lee Unkrich as a blockbuster director and Pixar as a major Hollywood studio, but it also set entirely new expectations for the animation genre.
Despite the fact that Toy Story 3 seemed like the logical conclusion to one of the most beloved franchises in Disney’s history, it didn’t take very long for a fourth installment to be considered. In fact, actor Tom Hanks (who voices the character of Woody) revealed in 2011 that Toy Story 4 was already in development.
2 The INCREDIBLES 2 - $1.242 Billion
For a long time, it really felt like The Incredibles was going to be one of the Pixar properties that would never actually get a sequel, despite the film’s cliffhanger at the end. What’s more, after Disney acquired Marvel Studios, it didn’t seem as important to develop more superheroes under the House of Mouse.
Fortunately, however, we eventually did get Incredibles 2, which catered to old and new fans and proved that this franchise deserved our attention. In fact, this second installment grossed $1.242 billion at the box office around the world, becoming the second highest-grossing animated movie ever.
1 FROZEN - $1.276 Billion
As of today, it is hard to imagine that an animated movie can get any bigger than 2013’s Frozen. That is, unless we’re considering the upcoming Frozen II.
Many Disney fans do not realize that Frozen actually started off with a slow $67 million weekend, and that it was a grower over time. This is largely because, in 2013, the Walt Disney Animation Studios was still struggling to regain its reputation as a studio that could compete with the likes of Pixar, DreamWorks and Illumination.
In any case, we now all know the success that Frozen went on to become, accumulating a global $1.276 billion gross at the box office and earning the top spot as the highest-grossing animated film ever.