Feature-length animated films have evolved not only in technology and execution, but in popularity.
For the last two decades, we’ve seen an explosion of animated blockbusters that take top slots at the year’s box office, from “Toy Story 3” to “Frozen.” One big example of that is an all-time great that’s celebrating its birthday.
DreamWorks’ “Shrek,” which turns 15 this week, proved that animated movies didn’t have to play by the Disney rules of catering to just kids to be a box-office hit.
Mike Myers voiced the grumpy ogre, Shrek, who has to rescue a princess (Cameron Diaz) to get his swamp back. Costarring Eddie Murphy as his annoying sidekick donkey – named Donkey – the movie became a worldwide hit and led to a cash cow of a franchise, as you’re about to see.
With “Shrek” celebrating its 15th anniversary, here we look back on the 10 highest-grossing animated movies in the US since 1980 and how the franchise headlined by a green ogre has done in that time span.
Note: Box-office figures in the titles are adjusted for inflation, while original box-office numbers are below. Figures provided by Box Office Mojo.
No. 10. “Shrek the Third” (2007) $408 million — adjusted gross
Unadjusted: $322.7 million
Grumpy Shrek is heir to the kingdom, but he’s not happy about it. He sets a plan in hopes that his nephew Artie (Justin Timberlake) will be the new king.
No. 9. “Shrek” (2001) $411.4 million
Unadjusted: $267.6 million
In the movie that kicked it all off, Mike Myers provides a Scottish accent and a lot of sarcasm to bring to life one of the most memorable animated characters. The cherry on top is Eddie Murphy, who’s perfect in the role of voicing Shrek’s sidekick, Donkey.
No. 8. “Toy Story 2” (1999) $416.1 million
Unadjusted: $246 million
After Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen by a toy collector, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the gang have to come up with a way to save him before he’s shipped off to Japan.
No. 7. “Frozen” (2013) $427 million
Unadjusted: $401 million
When Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) runs off after accidentally using her powers to freeze her kingdom, her sister, Anna, (Kristen Bell) must try to track her down with the help of some new friends – and some very addictive songs
No. 6. “Monsters, Inc.” (2001) $429.3 million
Unadjusted: $290 million
Billy Crystal and John Goodman play two monsters who help power their city by making children scream. But after one curious girl befriends the monsters, everything changes.
No. 5. “Toy Story 3” (2010) $454.1 million
Unadjusted: $415 million
Woody, Buzz, and the rest of Andy’s toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center and the toys enter a world filled with new characters and growing pains.
No. 4. “Aladdin” (1992) $456.2 million
Unadjusted: $217.3 million
This Disney classic has stood the test of time thanks to the incredible Genie character, voiced by Robin Williams, and its Oscar-winning music.
No. 3. “Finding Nemo” (2003) $536 million
- Disney / Pixar
Unadjusted: $381 million
Searching for his son, who was taken by a diver, Marlin (Albert Brooks) travels the sea with the forgetful but lovable Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) to track him down.
No. 2. “Shrek 2” (2004) $618.1 million
Unadjusted: $441.2 million
There was no sequel letdown as this movie dished out more great laughs and introduced the memorable Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas).
No. 1. “The Lion King” (1994) $775.5 million
Unadjusted: $423 million
The granddaddy of them all, this story of family and identity based on “Hamlet” is still one of the hallmarks of the Disney library. And the songs, written by Elton John and Tim Rice, are still beloved by children to this day and live on in the popular stage musical.