In the course of its theatrical run, Frozen grossed over $1.274 billion in ticket sales at the global box office, against a budget of $150 million. Obviously, this is a huge amount and Disney has not produced something this big since The Lion King. But, is it really Disney’s highest grossing animated film?
As of January 2014, Frozen sits only in the 13th place Walt Disney Animation Studios’ list of top grossing animated films, based on box office sales and adjusted for inflation. And, since this film wasn’t able to make it in the list, you might now be wondering what other Disney animated films made it to the top.
To appease your curiosity, we have provided you with a list of the top 10 Disney animated films below:
10. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Actual Gross: $51.6 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $418.6 million
Against a budget of $6 million, Sleeping Beauty became the most expensive Disney animation of 1959. Sadly, upon its initial release, it only generated about $7.7 million, which wasn’t enough to recoup its production costs.
Sleeping Beauty’s poor performance became the first annual loss in a decade for the company. Through the years, the film had several re-releases. And because of that, it became one of Disney’s biggest hits. Directed by Erice Larson, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Les Clark, the film is based on The Sleeping Beauty by The Brothers Grimm.
9. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Actual Gross: $93.6 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $824.6 million
Lady and the Tramp follows the story of Lady, a female American Cocker Spaniel, who is adopted by an upper-class family, and Tramp, a male mixed breed dog. When they first met, both dogs started to go on different romantic adventures.
While it wasn’t really a hit at first, this film, based on Ward Greene’s Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog, became a massive success in the long run due to several re-releases, particularly in 1962, 1971, 1980, and 1986. Today, it is considered one of Disney’s greatest classics.
8. Aladdin (1992)
Actual Gross: $504 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $848.2 million
Unlike other movies on this list, Aladdin made a lot of money on its first try. As a matter of fact, it became the highest-grossing animation film of all time, until The Lion King came in two years after.
Based on the Arab story from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin was tweaked to have a more child-friendly plot. It featured the voices of Jonathan Freeman, Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Gilbert Gottfried, Robin Williams, Douglas Seale, and Frank Welker.
The film’s success resulted in the creation of various merchandise, such as toys and video games. It also led to a Broadway adaptation, which debuted in 2014.
7. The Jungle Book (1967)
Actual Gross: $141.8 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $1 billion
During its first run in 1967, The Jungle Book became an instant hit, making more than $73 million. In 1978, 1984, and 1990, it was re-released again, increasing its total box office sales to $141.8 million. With a budget of only $4 million, it’s no wonder that the film generated a lot of profit for Disney.
Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name, The Jungle Book tells the story of a child named Mowgli, who is raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, a panther, and a bear. Its casts include actors and musicians like Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, Phil Harris, and George Sanders.
6. One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Actual Gross: $144.8 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $1.143 billion
Often called as 101 Dalmatians, One Hundred and One Dalmatians is an animated adventure film, inspired by a novel of the same name, written by Dodie Smith. It stars the voices of Rod Taylor, Cate Bauer, and Betty Lou Gerson as Pongo, Perdita, and Cruella de Vil respectively.
Upon release, One Hundred and One Dalmatians became a box office hit, successfully bringing the studio back on track again due to the financial setbacks caused by Sleeping Beauty. In 1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991, it was re-released in cinemas.
Although it had huge box office sales, part of its success was due to the use of inexpensive animation techniques like xerography.
5. Fantasia (1940)
Actual Gross: $76.4 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $1.2 billion
Although Fantasia currently stands as the 22nd highest grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation, it had its troubles when it came out. And, during that time, it cost a lot of fortune to produce such an ambitious movie.
It was then deemed as a box office failure. However, it was re-released in 1969, which helped in recouping the amount of money spent in making it.
Deems Taylor acted as the Master of the Ceremonies of Fantasia, which consisted of eight animated segments that were grouped to pieces of classical music.
4. Pinocchio (1940)
Actual Gross: $84.2 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $1.42 billion
Released in 1940, Pinocchio is an animated musical fantasy film that is based on the novel by Carlo Collodi, The Adventures of Pinocchio. It was Disney’s second animated feature film, following the 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The film tells the story of Geppetto, a woodcarver who carves a wooden puppet he calls Pinocchio. With the help of a blue fairy, the puppet is brought to life. Pinocchio is then informed that he can be a real boy if he can prove himself as “brave, truthful, and unselfish”.
Initially, the film was a box office disaster. But today, it is considered among Disney’s finest features and greatest animated films.
3. Bambi (1942)
Actual Gross: $102.2 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $1.48 billion
Directed by David Hand, Bambi is an animated drama film based on the book by Felix Salten, Bambi, A Life in the Woods. It is the fifth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
Back in 1942, Bambi did not actually recoup its $1.7 million budget. And because of the war, there was no way to get the film overseas. So, Disney had to accept another box office flop.
After the war, the film was re-released and has since become among the most popular and profitable Disney animations.
2. The Lion King (1994)
Actual Gross: $987.5 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $1.573 billion
The Lion King is an animated musical film that takes place in a kingdom of lions in Africa. It follows the adventures of Simba, the successor of King Mufasa. It features the voices of Rowan Atkinson, Moira Kelly, Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Cummings, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ernie Sabella, Matthew Broderick, and Cheech Marin.
Upon its release in 1994, The Lion King was praised by critics for its story and music. It also grossed over $783 million worldwide, becoming the most successful film of that year.
1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Actual Gross: $184.9 million
Adjusted for Inflation: $3.03 billion
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is Disney’s first full-length Celluloid animated feature film and the first in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
The story was created by storyboard artists Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Webb Smith, Ted Sears, Richard Creedon, and Dorothy Ann Blank, with David Hand as the supervising director.
Upon its release, the film grossed a total of $8 million. And, at that time, it was assumed that Snow White was already the highest grossing sound film. The film’s popularity has led to it being re-released in theaters several times. Now, it is ranks among the 100 greatest American films in the American Film Institute’s list.
In calculating the total revenue of a film, you have to adjust it for inflation. It doesn’t really mean that today’s most successful film will always be on top of the rest, just like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Even if it was released more than seven decades ago, it still has lasting contributions, not only in Disney’s revenue, but also in the world of animation.