In 1995, Pixar Animation Studios released “Toy Story,” its first feature film. The computer-animated movie was ostensibly geared towards children but like many of the best kid’s films, it had widespread appeal, grossing $192,523,233 ($403,493,031 when adjusted for inflation) worldwide.
Since 1995, fictional movies aimed at children have nearly tripled as a percentage of total box office receipts. In 1995, kid’s fiction films made up 6% of ticket sales. That number climbed up to 22% by 2019, though it fell to 15% in 2022, likely due to reduced overall moviegoing induced by the pandemic .
Some of the highest-grossing kids movies weave in universal ideals like friendship, love, and childlike wonder. Plus, they may take viewers on emotional rollercoaster rides – though they almost always end well. Many of these movies have set box office records, making their producers massive amounts of money. (These are the 40 most profitable kids’ movies of all time.)
To compile a list of the top-grossing kids movies since “Toy Story” came out, 24/7 Tempo ranked all children’s movies released since 1995 by their worldwide box-office gross, using data from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services.
Almost all of these films are animated and only four animation studios appear on this list – Disney, Pixar (now owned by Disney), DreamWorks, and Illumination Entertainment (the latter two both connected to Universal Pictures). These animation production companies have evolved into massive businesses over the years. Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006; Universal paid $3.8 billion for DreamWorks a decade later.
One thing these companies have done well is build off the success of films to create lucrative franchises. “Toy Story,” “Despicable Me” and “The Incredibles” all have sequels that did even better at the box office than the originals. These films managed to retain the unique elements and magic of their franchises while adding new characters and fresh stories. (Numerous animated franchises are on the list, but interestingly enough, Marvel barely makes the top 10 best movie franchises of all time.)
Besides doing great at the box office, many of these films also found success with critics and award shows. In 2002, the first-ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was won by “Shrek.” Since then, several other films on this list have won Oscars.
While most of these movies are animated, there are also a few live-action films that did well. “Night at the Museum,” makes the list but its sequels were unable to repeat this success. Jim Carrey’s version of “The Grinch,” also managed to bring in serious ticket sales.
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