Once upon a time, the company then known as Walt Disney Productions (now the Walt Disney Company) was on the verge of bankruptcy. Following the blockbuster success of 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the studio released a string of relative disappointments. Even 1941’s “Dumbo” — which turned a profit at the box office — did little to reverse its fortunes.
Deciding to bet the house, Disney spent $2.2 million (almost $25 million in today’s dollars) on their next feature, a fairy tale called “Cinderella.” It arrived in theaters in 1950 and became one of the year’s highest-grossing films. And the studio lived happily ever after. (These are the best Disney movies of all time.)
Well, kind of. In the wake of “Cinderella,” Disney continued to experience plenty of highs and lows in terms of cinematic output. By the mid-2000s, they were struggling once again as tentpole releases failed to strike the zeitgeist with the same precision as certain predecessors had.
However, the studio’s fate never hung on the performance of a single film as it once did. Furthermore, theatrical re-releases and home rentals turned former box office disappointments such as “Bambi” and “Pinocchio” and even “Fantasia” into massive earners over time. That’s not to mention adjacent revenue streams like merchandising, licensing, theme park tie-ins, and more.
These days, Disney is bigger than ever. Between its own popular titles and those of its lucrative subsidiaries (Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, etc), the studio routinely breaks box office records. In 2019, for instance, Disney raked in over $11 billion worldwide on the strength of just their film properties. (As one example of its successes, here’s how every Pixar movie did at the box office.)
To identify Disney’s top 50 earners of all time at the global box office, when adjusted for inflation, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 633 full-length feature films produced and/or distributed by Disney or by one of Disney’s subsidiaries that have data available on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon. Data on worldwide box office, updated as of June 2021, came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services, and are adjusted for inflation. We have included each film’s IMDb rating and Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. Cast information comes from IMDb.