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Box Office Report

‘Despicable Me’ Is Now The Top-Grossing Animated Feature Franchise Of All-Time

Bow to your new cartoon overlords: Gru and his minions have become the top-grossing animation franchise of all-time.

With this weekend’s global box office of $26.5 million, Despicable Me 3 reached $879.5 million. Combined that amount with the grosses of the three prior films in the series – DM 1 & 2 along with Minions – and the Illumination franchise has grossed a record $3.55 billion globally. The previous record-holder, Shrek, had accumulated $3.51 billion over 5 films (including the Puss in Boots spinoff).

Here are the top 10 global cartoon franchises of all-time, all from American companies, of course.

  1. Despicable Me (4 films): $3.55 billion
  2. Shrek (5 films): $3.51 billion
  3. Ice Age (5 films): $3.21 billion
  4. Madagascar (4 films): $2.25 billion
  5. Toy Story (3 films): $1.97 billion
  6. Finding Nemo (2 films): $1.96 billion
  7. Kung Fu Panda (3 films): $1.81 billion
  8. Cars (5 films, includes Planes): $1.70 billion
  9. Monsters, Inc. (2): $1.32 billion
  10. How to Train Your Dragon (2): $1.11 billion

Despicable Me’s record likely won’t be broken anytime soon either, since the sequel to Minions is due out in 2020. The first Minions grossed $1.16 billion, the second-highest amount ever for an animated feature.

As for Despicable Me 3, which is still in theaters, the film surpassed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 this weekend to become the third-highest grossing global release of 2017, behind only Beauty and the Beast and The Fate of the Furious. Its $879.5M total also edged past the $877.2M total for Ice Age: Continental Drift, putting DM3 at number 10 all-time for a full-length animated film.

  • Mina

    From a Paris garage that Illumination entertainment first started in….to the world’s top animated franchise ever! Congrats Illumination – a wonderful entrepreneurial success story that inspires me a lot.
    This company is made of many nationalities and their products are truly global.
    Congrats to all artists working on the Despicable Me franchise.

  • Josh Evans

    I know. I have no life. Regardless, here’s my research.

    Please keep in mind that this list (like the original) includes spin off films like Minons and Puss in Boots. According to Box Office Mojo domestic (US) returns, here is the inflation adjusted (to 2017 USD) list:

    1) Shrek (5 Films) = $1,751,282,752.74
    2) Despicable Me (4 Films) = $1,255,848,601.62
    3) Toy Story (3 Films) = $1,133,958,540.46
    4) Finding Nemo (2 Films) = $1,001,563,638.03
    5) Ice Age (5 Films) = $937,800,192.59
    6) Cars (5 Films) = $807,744,044.48
    7) Madagascar (4 Films) = $763,387,909.89
    8) Monsters Inc (2 Films) = $682,114,916.98
    9) Kung Fu Panda (3 Films) = $570,540,295.62
    10) How to Train Your Dragon (2 Films) = $426,817,463.57

    Alright, so this is a little closer to what I expected personally. However, stats like these can seems a bit strange as a franchise can have a ton of low earning films and dominate the ranks over a franchise with several high earning films. This next list is the amount earned by a given franchise divided by the number of films in the series in order to give a sense of the average earning power of a series. As these are averages of the numbers above, this is strictly relevant to US domestic takes.

    1) Finding Nemo = $500,781,819.01
    2) Toy Story = $377,986,180.15
    3) Shrek = $350,256,550.548
    4) Monsters Inc = $341,057,458.49
    5) Despicable Me = $313,962,150.405
    6) How to Train Your Dragon = $213,408,731.78
    7) Madagascar = $190,846,977.47
    8) Kung Fu Panda = $190,180,098.54
    9) Ice Age = $187,560,038.52
    10) Cars = $161,548,808.89

    Now that, to my sensibilities, is a much more agreeable list.

    • Abdullah Zubair

      First of all, when you are talking about money, you should take the total worldwide gross in cosideration because that is the actual number the producers will earn..
      Second of all, you can not make the list with inflation adjustment because the producers did not actually earn that much, no matter how much you adjust it, their pockets will not expand
      third of all, the list you made is not accurate because all the movies in a franchise can’t earn the same..It is all about content, the humongous success of Continental drift will be undermined just because Collision Course is a mediocre film with a mediocre performance..
      If I do that with Alice in wonderland which collected 1 billion plus dollars, and the sequel Alice Through the looking glass which collected only 300 million..No one in the studio is going to say let’s make another sequel as the average is around 700 million per film..Because the latest film flopped and making another film will just reduce their profits

      • Josh Evans

        You seem to be missing the point. My list is adjusted for inflation to more accurately depict what the older films on the list would have made in today’s money, I don’t care what the producer made. It is domestic only because adjusting worldwide rates for inflation must be done on a country by country basis and I’m only willing to put so much effort into it without being paid.
        In reference to the second list, please read more carefully next time. I was very clear that it was a depiction of average pull a franchise is capable of. Yes, a terrible entry in a series will pull an average down…that’s kind of how averages work. It would also be accurate in your example because the weaker entry damages public perception of a franchise, causing the average to dip, thus accurately depicting the state of the series.

  • Sandro Cleuzo

    It is amazing to see that Pixar is not really at the top of the list, I never would thought that.

    • Metlow Rovenstein

      That’s because until Cars 2 in 2011, Pixar wasn’t prone to making sequels unless they saw the ideas fit for storytelling.

      • Mesterius

        Yeah, but still… the three Despicable Me movies have grossed MORE in total than the three Toy Story films?? Quality-wise, they can’t even be compared.

        • HN

          “the three Despicable Me movies have grossed MORE in total than the three Toy Story films??”

          That is because the first 2 Toy Story movies were shown in 1995 and 1999. There are no animated films making billion dollars during those times. Toy Story 3 (2010) made $1.067 billion. Imagine if the first 2 Toy Story movies are shown in 2010’s instead. We will see with Toy Story 4 in 2019. I’m predicting it will also gross more than $1 billion.

          • Netko

            I seriously doubt it. Toy Story 3 had many people waiting for it to come out, with over 10 years between it and the original movies. Many people who watched it the first time were kids who now grew into adults looking forward to the movie that will wrap it all up. The fourth movie won’t have that. Yes, it’s been a while between it and the third movie, but that’s the third one and most people already think the fourth one is completely unnecessary.

      • Fried

        They had two Toy Story sequels prior to that + a Buzz Lightyear TV series. Toy Story was a franchise long before Cars was.

  • Royce

    We’re gonna get more sequels to this than the “Land Before Time” movies, aren’t we?

    • Inkan1969

      I was dismayed to discover that they had made a new LBT sequel last year, after a multi-year hiatus.

    • Metlow Rovenstein

      I dunno about that. There will be a point where people will get tired of the Despicable Me movies… and I have the feeling that will happen before, if not around the time, it reaches movie no. 7 or 8.

  • Elsi Pote

    Illumination takes over the world with a can do attitude and truly likeable characters.

    I saidvit before and I say it again. Universal is out to trample anything on it’s path thanks in part to overlooked managers and artists from Disney and Dreamworks.

    Don’t over do it illumination.

  • HN

    Well, to be fair to Disney/Pixar, except for Toy Story and Cars, they are not prone to making sequels except when it’s really necessary. Still can’t believe that it took 14 years for them to make a sequel for The Incredibles. It also took them 13 years to make a sequel to Finding Nemo. On that note, if they make many sequels to the following animated movies, they can put many of their animated franchises in the Top 10 and and will displace some in the Top 5:

    1. Frozen (the highest grossing animated film of all time worldwide)
    2. The Incredibles (the first one was release in 2004 but has since developed a cult following)
    3. Toy Story (more sequels to pad the franchise gross; the first 2 came out in 1995 and 1999 where worldwide box office for animated films haven’t reached billions yet, only in 2010 did the third Toy Story film grossed more than $1 billion)
    4. Finding Nemo/Dory (among the list of top 10 animated franchises, this one has the highest average gross, unajusted for inflation)
    5. Zootopia (the first film grossed more than a billion)
    6. Inside Out

  • Doconnor

    Perhaps Frozen should be number 10 with $1,28 billion after one film (so far).

  • Mack

    The fourth Ice Age made almost a billion dollars? My gosh, I didn’t realize the series’ success overseas.

  • Katie Lewis

    Illumination is the Switzerland of animation studios!