It’s no secret that Disney is at the top of the ladder when it comes to making money among film studios. Almost everything that the company churns out turns into a commercial success to the point where their rare flops don’t even seem to impact them all that much.
Obviously, Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm all deliver box office hits but another hugely profitable section of the brand is Walt Disney Animation Studios. Since the ’30s, they’ve put out some of the most popular and beloved animated films in history, with a handful of them breaking box office records as blockbuster hits.
10 Wreck-It Ralph (2012) – $471.2 Million
With box office numbers higher than ever during the 2010s, a lot of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ most profitable films are from that era. That may mean they aren’t considered all-time classics just yet but something like Wreck-It Ralph may earn that reputation down the line.
The film focuses on a video game villain named Ralph who embarks on a quest to become the hero of his own story. It was well-received enough to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. The $471.2 million it grossed globally was also enough to spawn a sequel a few years later as well.
9 Aladdin (1992) – $504 Million
There’s a reason the ’90s is known as the Renaissance Era for the studio. It cranked out movies that were both commercial and critical successes, including Aladdin. Not only did it gross an impressive $504 million but it made history as the first animated film to pass the half-billion-dollar mark.
To this day, Aladdin, telling the story of a street urchin who gains power when a genie grants his wishes, is a classic. The voice work of Robin Williams is also considered some of the best in any movie. While no sequel hit theaters, the live-action remake in 2019 surpassed the $1 billion threshold.
8 Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018) – $529.3 Million
In a lot of cases, sequels manage to make more money than the original film since they build upon the popularity of what came first. That was the case with Ralph Breaks The Internet, which grossed about $50 million more than its predecessor, capping out at $529.3 million.
Though some of the aspects are the same in this follow-up, audiences still adored the bond between Ralph and Vanellope. The film was praised for that pairing being entertaining, as well as the creative way that it depicted various aspects of the internet that the characters traveled through. Plus, it featured a bunch of Disney princesses in one scene.
7 Tangled (2010) – $592.4 Million
One of the things that Walt Disney Animated Studios has always been good at is taking classic stories and managing to put their own unique twist on them. They did it with Aladdin, Robin Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and more. It happened again at the start of the 2010s with Tangled.
This was a new look at the classic tale of Rapunzel and her legendary long hair, adding in fun bits like Flynn Rider and Pascal. Not only was this a box office hit at $592.4 million but it also scored several Oscar nominations. Its popularity also led to both a short film and a television series down the line.
6 Moana (2016) – $643.9 Million
In recent years, the studio has shifted part of its focus and has given more shine to different people. 2016 saw the release of Moana, which centered on a strong Polynesian girl who is chosen by the sea to go on an epic quest.
The $643.9 million that Moana grossed was obviously massive but this movie goes further than that. It marked the kind of representation that Polynesian people deserved and holds up so well several years later that a Disney+ series is on the way. Plus, this film features fantastic music from the talented Lin-Manuel Miranda.
5 Big Hero 6 (2014) – $657.8 Million
Although Marvel Studios is the area of Disney that delivers some of the biggest hits in cinemas, they weren’t behind at least one film based on one of their comic books. That would be Big Hero 6, which Walt Disney Animation Studios took the reins on.
This superhero flick sees a young genius bond with an inflatable robot in the wake of the death of his brother. They team up with others to form a superhero squad in one of the more unique films made by the studio. It was something of a surprise hit with a $657.8 million intake. Along with an Academy Award victory, this also spawned a Big Hero 6 TV series and an upcoming spin-off titled Baymax!
4 Zootopia (2016) – $1.024 Billion
Walt Disney Animation Studios has nailed a lot of different genres in their movies over time but in 2016, they put out their first buddy cop flick. That would be Zootopia, which saw an optimistic rabbit police officer work together with a cunning con artist fox to solve a crime in a world of anthropomorphic animals.
The late 2010s saw Disney deliver consistently good movies that were major hits both critically and commercially, with Zootopia ranking right near the top. Along with the $1.024 billion that it made theatrically, it won an Oscar and has a Disney+ television series on the way.
3 The Lion King (1994) – $1.083 Billion
Initially, The Lion King didn’t quite make it past the elusive $1 billion mark but it has since reached there, totaling $1.083 billion, with re-releases. In fact, this is likely Disney’s most profitable property since it led to several sequels, a blockbuster live-action remake in 2019, a Broadway play, and more.
The Lion King was also special in that it was a completely original story, which was unusual for the studio. The tale of a lion prince’s rise to being king against his bitter uncle (who killed his father) is now iconic thanks to emotional scenes, memorable music, and animation that holds up decades later.
2 Frozen (2013) – $1.281 Billion
A lot has been made about Disney movies falling into certain tropes over the years. There are so many films focusing on princesses who are in need of rescue and romances between a man and a woman at the center of it all. In 2013, Frozen managed to buck those trends in some creative ways.
Instead of looking at a romantic relationship, this was all about two sisters as the true love at the core of the story. Anna and Elsa became legendary characters almost immediately, as did the song “Let It Go.” That all helped Frozen race to a record-setting $1.281 billion at the worldwide box office.
1 Frozen II (2019) – $1.450 Billion
Take what worked about the original film and do it again, only with a few key changes. That’s what happened in 2019 when Frozen 2 hit theaters to huge fanfare. It took the record set by the first and shattered it by reaching a whopping $1.450 billion.
Interestingly, although this made more money than the first, it doesn’t seem to be held in as high regard. Still, characters like Anna and Elsa were just as strong this time around, while “Into The Unknown” was another incredible song. Like its predecessor, this racked up the awards.