ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

If I asked you to try and guess the highest grossing animated movie ever, I wager many of you could make a pretty educated guess. After all, Frozen became both a financial and cultural phenomenon that still continues two years after its release. However, if I asked you to guess the second highest grossing animated film ever, I'm also pretty sure not many of you would get the answer right.

According to, Universal's Despicable Me spin-off, Minions has now drawn in enough cash to take silver in the animated movie box office. As is increasingly becoming the case, Minions can give thanks to the Chinese cinemagoing audience for bestowing it with this accolade. The film, which only opened in China last weekend, made $20.1 million on its debut, making it the country's biggest ever opening for an animated movie and pushing it ahead of Toy Story 3's $1.06 billion. The full international Top 10 animated box office list is below:

  • 1. Frozen: $1,279,852,693
  • 2. Minions: $1,080,133,195
  • 3. Toy Story 3: $1,063,171,911
  • 4. The Lion King: $987,483,777
  • 5. Despicable Me 2: $970,761,885
  • 6. Finding Nemo: $936,743,261
  • 7. Shrek 2: $919,838,758
  • 8. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: $886,686,817
  • 9. Ice Age: Continental Drift: $877,244,782
  • 10. Shrek the Third: $798,958,162

This might seem relatively surprising, as although Minions was generally received well by audiences, it wasn't exactly a mega-hit on the scale of Toy Story 3, Frozen or many other Pixar, Dreamworks and Universal animated films. Indeed, this is reflected in the domestic gross taking of Minions, as it 'only' made $331.6 million in North America, placing it 8th on the domestic animated movie box office charts.

This means it made the vast majority of its box office takings from the foreign market, which makes sense when you consider Minions was subject to a rather massive marketing and merchandising push in these areas. After all, cute little yellow guys who speak a strange amalgamation of languages are relatively easy to market to many different countries and cultures.

Berlin's Mehringdamm U-Bahn station was 'taken over' by Minions.
Berlin's Mehringdamm U-Bahn station was 'taken over' by Minions.

Minions currently has a haul of $1.08 billion, which means it probably cannot assail Frozen's $1.27 billion even with this last minute influx of Chinese cash. Furthermore, the figures above have not been adjusted for inflation - which is what gives a more accurate look at which movies are actually the most lucrative. For example, three classic animated movies, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 101 Dalmations and The Lion King have all made more than Minions and Frozen. You can check out their box office, when adjusted for inflation, below:

  • 1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): $3,064,592,510
  • 2. 101 Dalmatians (1961): $1,722,982,320
  • 3. The Lion King (1994): $1,590,087,500

So, from the looks of things, classic and traditional animation still actually rules the roost.



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