Being in the animation industry, it is in my interest to keep abreast of which animated feature films are taking the most box office profits. Today I run by this list of the top 20 highest grossing animation movies of all time and I would like to share my views on why I think these movies did as well as they did. They will make up my recommended recipe for an animated feature box office hit.
1. Shrek 2 (3D) – $436,471,036
2. Finding Nemo (3D) – 339,714,978
3. The Lion King (2D) – 328,539,505
4. Shrek the Third (3D) – $322,719,944
5. Shrek (3D) – 267,665,011
6. The Incredibles (3D) – 261,657,004
7. Monsters, Inc. (3D) – 255,870,172
8. Toy Story 2 (3D) – $245,852,179
9. Cars (3D) – $244,082,982
10. Aladdin (2D) – 217,350,219
11. Ratatouille (3D) – $206,445,654
12. Happy Feet (3D) – $198,000,317
13. Ice Age: Meltdown (3D) – $195,330,621
14. Madagascar (3D) – $193,595,521
15. Toy Story (3D) – $191,780,865
16. The Simpsons Movie (2D) – $183,135,014
17. The Polar Express (3D) – $179,100,434
18. Ice Age (3D) – 176,387,405
19. Beauty and the Beast (2D) – $171,350,553
20. Tarzan (2D) – $171,091,819
Shrek – Top of the Crop
Shrek 2 takes the lead as you can see from the list. In fact, the Shrek trilogy takes the 1st, 4th and 5th positions, all in the top 5 positions. This is a very impressive feat and in my opinion, Shrek took the cake because the stories were really good and the gags were good. Of course it helped a lot that 4 major stars were casted – Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas and Mike Myers. In fact, of the Shrek trilogy, I enjoyed Shrek 2 the most, so personally I am not surprised that it performed the best out of the three.
3D versus 2D
From the list below, we can see that 3D movies take 15 of the spots, in comparison with its 2D counterparts that take only 5 seats. It would seem from this statistic that the audience is favoring 3D animation to 2D animation. Even 2D/3D fusion shows like Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Treasure Planet did not seem to please them enough. It would seem that The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Tarzen are only in the top 20 positions because of their strong family-orientated storylines and classic branding. The Simpsons Movie benefited basically through a huge fan base through its TV series. Barring such unique franchises, it would appear that a 3D show would trounce a 2D one any day. The animation studios seem to be echoing this sentiment as the quantity of 2D animated features produced has dwindled drastically in recent years.
A Strong Storyline
This is probably not new to you, but I will say it anyway. I think that one of the most important factors that will drive an animated feature would be a strong and compelling storyline. In fact I would go as far as to say that if you forgo everything else, you must have a great story to tell! Every single movie on the list tells an interesting story (well almost) and they all did well enough to make it to top twenty.
Laughter, the Best Medicine
People like to laugh. They like to laugh at others. They like to laugh at themselves. They just like to laugh. All things constant, I think Shrek takes three of the top five positions because of their gags and original jokes. And do not forget the two maestros of comedy – Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy – who performed the voiceovers for Shrek and Donkey respectively. How can you beat that lethal duo?
A Strong Voiceover Cast
It is a fact that a star-studded cast for the voiceovers is a crowd-puller, especially when the celebrities are well-liked and great performers. Again, refer to Shrek’s cast. With Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, how can the movie go wrong?
The Importance of Recognizable Characters within the Show
This is just my theory, but I strongly believe that besides having a strong storyline, animated features should also showcase recognizable characters. And when I say recognizable characters, I don’t mean plain human characters. I mean monsters. I mean animals. I mean super heroes. With characters that are more interesting than humans, they are instantly more recognizable. Look at the list closely. Besides a couple of the old 2D movies, which other movie had a cast that only had plain old human beings for its lead? Having interesting and identifiable characters will most definitely attract ticket sales because people want to pay to watch interesting characters in an animated feature, not plain old human being! I don’t have to remind you again what a flop Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was, do I?
My Personal Favourites
In case you are wondering, my personal favorites are Monster Inc, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Shrek 2 and Ice Age in that order. My reason? They all have strong and compelling storylines. And I put them in this order according to how much I enjoyed each individual movie. I must say that Monster Inc gave me the best enjoyment factor!
So here’s my recommended recipe for a animated feature box office success:
1. The movie must be done in 3D
2. It must have a compelling story to tell
3. Inject lots of humor into the show
4. Get a strong cast to be your voiceover talents
5. The character designs must be interesting and memorable
I hope that this article has been an interesting read. Please visit my websites to read more of my articles or simply to check out what I am doing.