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The highest grossing animated movie of all time is a debate between these two films

Updated: May 26, 2023

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is the biggest film of 2023 just weeks after it opened, and its global box office earnings are already at nearly $900 million.


The Nintendo silver screen adaptation is also the only film released after the COVID-19 pandemic to rank in the top 10 domestic opening weekends for animated films, Forbes reports. It surpassed "Frozen II's" record for the largest animated film opening weekend.


So who takes the top spot of all time? Here’s what lifetime box office earnings have to say.


What is the highest-grossing animated movie of all time?

"Frozen II" is the highest-grossing animated movie with a lifetime worldwide earning of $1.45 billion. The $150 thousand-budget Disney film is the 2019 sequel to "Frozen," which follows Princess Anna and her sister Queen Elsa, whose ice powers place their kingdom in perpetual winter. Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad return in "Frozen II" to journey to an enchanted forest to discover the origin of Elsa’s magical powers.


There’s some debate as to whether "Frozen II" deserves the crown of highest-grossing animated film. Disney’s 2019 "The Lion King" remastered the original 1994 movie in hyper-realistic CGI. The film made $1.66 billion worldwide, well outpacing Frozen’s sequel.


But Disney classified the film as live-action, not animated, despite it being nominated for best animated feature at the 2019 Golden Globes. "The Lion King" includes one live shot in the film’s opening. Director Jon Favreau told SlashFilms he doesn’t consider it live-action or animated, saying "to say it’s animated … is misleading."


There’s some debate as to whether "Frozen II" deserves the crown of highest-grossing animated film. Disney’s 2019 "The Lion King" remastered the original 1994 movie in hyper-realistic CGI. The film made $1.66 billion worldwide, well outpacing Frozen’s sequel.


But Disney classified the film as live-action, not animated, despite it being nominated for best animated feature at the 2019 Golden Globes. "The Lion King" includes one live shot in the film’s opening. Director Jon Favreau told SlashFilms he doesn’t consider it live-action or animated, saying "to say it’s animated … is misleading."

Top 10 highest-grossing animated movies

Here are the highest-grossing animated movies of all time, according to IMDbPro’s Box Office Mojo:

1. Frozen II (2019): $1.45 billion

2. Frozen (2013): $1.28 billion

3. Incredibles 2 (2018): $1.24 billion

4. Minions (2015); $1.16 billion

5. Toy Story 4 (2019): $1.073 billion

6. Toy Story 3 (2010): $1.067 billion

7. Despicable Me 3 (2017): $1.034 billion

8. Finding Dory (2016): $1.029 billion

9. Zootopia (2016): $1.02 billion

10. Despicable Me 2 (2013): $971 million

High-earning movies vary differently depending on what metrics you’re looking at. For example, Incredibles 2 is the highest-grossing animated film in the U.S. but its worldwide earnings are far less than the Frozen franchise films. Only about 33% of Frozen II’s total earnings were domestic.

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Credit: USAtoday

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