animationbudgets animationbudgets

Incredible Animation Budgets Interactive Graph

Animation Budgets Graph

Not enough people talk about animation budgets and salaries and I think that’s a shame. It’s hard to produce good work without knowing what it costs to make something. Brad Graeber, creator of Captain Capitalism, was faced with this situation recently and decided to actually do something about it. For the past year, he’s been researching animation budgets and has created this unbelievably useful interactive animation budget chart that shows animation budgets from the 1920s through today. The graph allows you to view production costs by minute, second, foot and frame. Brad writes a lot more about the project on his blog. Hopefully this spurs even greater discussion in the industry, especially about music video, commercial and Flash animation budgets, which seems to be where a lot of people underprice themselves nowadays. Brad has provided a super-valuable service for professionals and students alike and we should all thank him.

  • HUlk

    Awesome! Now when some Hollywood douche “producer” tries to low ball me I can point him to this site.

  • This is really, really intriguing! What I find interesting is that Clerks the animated series got a much higher budget than lets say, Spongebob. Which of those programs is obviously more (and better) animated?
    That leads me to ask this question . . . .what is a good portion of the money being spent on department wise?

    P.S. Despite the minimal animation in Clerks, I still loved that series. I know…let the bashing begin. :P

  • Chuck R.

    Fascinating, and well-presented! So is Tarzan the all-time heavyweight? Kudos to Brad for a job well done!

    If this will be continually expanded, I have a suggestion or two: Please include more Anime. (incl. Spirited Away, Totoro.) It’s already Disney-heavy, but I’m curious to see how the budget of Pocahontas stacked up against Lion King. Nightmare Before Christmas and Pixar films would be nice too. Also, am I missing something or is the chronology of the films (within a decade) out-of-order?

    These are quibbles. This is a truly informative piece of work and greatly appreciated!

  • amazing!!! thank you! this is exactly the thing i was rambling about in the grand old nag post! this is really helpful!!!

  • Andrew

    This tells me so much new information! The comparison between Disney animation and other kinds have been obvious for years- there really is no competition between major corporate studios and smaller ones. Tarzan and Treasure Planet both had the highest budgets? That’s hard to believe- it really makes me wonder if the money went to areas other than what’s on-screen. For Roger Rabbit, however, that one makes sense.

    I would love to see a similar chart made sorted by studios, especially independent ones.

  • This is the best post you’ve ever made, Amid.

    Theatrical costs look like they contain development -which is in a way, an unfair weight. TV series don’t include their long development process in their budgets.

    Talent costs play a big factor in these numbers, too. Family Guys’ talent is significantly lower than the Simpsons’ but probably much greater than the Meatball and Milkshake show.

  • Chiskop

    the brew is right: we need something like also on music video, commercial and Flash animation budgets

  • Brad Graeber

    Amid, thanks for posting this. Wasn’t expecting it up so soon, was kind of suprised to see it. But thank you for the very kind words.

    Mr. O’Connor: I agree with you. As I said in the post, I am not trying to prove anything by this and I hope people take it with a grain of salt for what it is. It’s really just meant to be a presentation of information.

    It is true that TV and film production are very different; as are shorts and video production. Insane super-star voice talent, sometimes advertising, writing costs and other things do have to be taken into consideration if one was doing a true compare contrast.

    Also, technology makes it impossible to truly compare things from different time periods. It is hard to legitimately compare and contrasts costs something that was created on a 35mm camera on acetate cels, than something made in a computer on a cintiq. What I did is not apples to apples, it is more like apples to bananas and kiwis, and I am not trying to proclaim what fruit is the best fruit.

  • Knowledge is power (and money!)

    Thanks for posting this, Amid.

  • Pez

    I would be interested in seeing other 90’s and 80’s productions added to the graph. Shows like Duck Tales and Smurfs for 80’s and for 90’s shows that produced by Disney afternoon, Fox kids and Warner Brothers.

    Thanks to Amid for the post and to Brad for making the graph

  • I can’t help but notice the absence of CG as a comparable in the ’90s and ’00s, and I’m very curious about how it stacks up. As I recall, part of why CG caught on like it did (in special effects, if not for the same reasons in animated features) was the argument from cost efficiency. That aside, what an astounding resource.

  • Very, very interesting. Tanks for posting this.

    I always “knew” that anime was done on tight budgets, but it’s truly fascinating to see just how big the differences are with western animation (and how much “bang” you get for your buck in either case). Though I wonder how much of that difference has to do with stylistic choices and how much is due to market forces (e.g. average animator salary).

  • This is awesome. The most hilarious part was how most of the awesome cartoons were produced on relatively tiny budgets, whereas bombs like TITAN AE were just ridiculous.

    Great job Brad!!! The people need to know and this really puts things in perspective, especially the money-wasting that goes on in major studios. Nothing beats a solid idea or a talented cartoonist’s vision.

  • That’s a wonderful idea and I’m glad that Brad made this graph.

    I noticed that a number of foreign productions were there as well, and I’m wondering if maybe that portion of it could be expanded a little to include more countries.

    Also, I wished at least some stop-motion and CGI films had been included, to better show the differences in costs between these techniques.

    There are often quite dramatic differences in budgets between the US and other countries, it seems. This can be seen in the graph in the difference between the costs of Disney films and Miyazaki films of the same period (or “The Triplets of Belleville).

    For example, I’m currently doing an overview on my blog of the upcoming feature films in Russia, and the total budget for each feature is in the range of a few million dollars; just a bit over the amount that it took Disney to fund a minute of animation in Tarzan.

    Or we can look at the Czech feature “One Night in One City”; total budget seems insanely low at $700,000 US, yet the animation and the film itself are superb, as good as Aardman I’d say (though very different).

    Something strange seems to be going on here; obviously living standards in those other countries are lower, as are wages, but not by 100 times. How could “Triplets of Belleville” have such good animation yet be made in France, Canada and Belgium for a pittance?

    Either conditions for artists in other countries many times worse than in the US, or American productions have some major inefficiencies that those in other countries do not.

    Has anyone looked deeper into this?

  • Regardless of any possible inaccuracies in Mr. Graeber’s nifty invention, this truly is one of the greatest posts I’ve experienced. Mr. Graeber is to be commended for coming up with such a concept.

    I also wanted to respond to Felicia’s earlier comment about Clerks and minimal animation. I loved Princess Guinivere and the Jewel Riders and hated Yu-Gi-Oh and Naruto–both shows probably had bigger budgets (even after you make the currency conversion–hee hee) but it’s all about the story, dude. Plus character development–and not just visually.

    Remember what Ollie Johnston said to Glen Keane after Glen showed him the possibilities of computer animation: “But Glen, what was she thinking?”

  • Ridgecity

    You know what’s sad? That the South park movie cost about the same as The Beauty & The Beast.

  • This is a perfect way of demonstrating that a high budget does not automatically equal a good cartoon. It’s interesting to look at the trends from decade to decade. Very well done, Brad!

  • Thanks again for the kind words.

    I imagined that this would be an ongoing document that I can update and correct regularly. It was set-up to easily make additions. Sources for this sort of thing can be fairly hard to find and inaccurate. I agree, there are some definite holes. I made an initial list of pieces I would have liked to have in the graph, and could not find information on many of them.

    The reason the graph is Disney heavy is that the information is more easily available, even though I believe it is questionable that the figures are completely accurate, I tried to have two sources on each of those films. But as some have pointed out, the numbers on films like Aladdin are possibly a bit suspect.

    I would also really like more anime series, more foreign pieces, and some maybe CG examples, (though I think doing the latter would make it even more spurious in comparing one piece to another).

    I admittedly focused on American traditional animation, because that is where my bias is. Even within that arena, I am missing some really important pieces. I wanted info on Batman: The Animated Series, Ren & Stimpy, Samurai Jack, He-man, Smurfs, Animaniacs…to name a few.

    I think it would also be fun to go through Mr. Beck’s 50 Greatest Cartoons book and other such lists and pick specific examples that exemplify the artform in some folks’ minds. I also think shows like Dora the Explorer and other less thought of examples are important to include.

    Point being, if anybody has an idea of some of these budgets…or can point me to a good source, e-mail me a link and I will try to work it in.

  • Fascinating stuff. And in some cases grotesque.
    Tarzan costing 5 times as much as Mononoke at a little over half the length, and looking about 5 times cheaper? Pretty disgusting. Even Prince of Egypt has half that budget and looks waaaay better to my eye.

    The rule of thumb on the Disney films seems to be that their quality is in direct reverse proportion to their budget.
    Even if (for some godless reason) you prefer those films, it seems an unavoidable reality that the later Disney features seem to be the worst managed productions in animation history, simply not offering the moneys worth. One can completely understand why they shut those departments down.

    p.s For crying out loud guys, link to Niffiwans article already.

  • The graph is interesting since the public has always taken these matters for granted. But when the production is cheap, it shows.
    Interestingly, the graph shows SUPERMAN approaching the $100k mark. This is not correct. According to the original 1941 Paramount contract, the first SUPERMAN was allocated $50,000, with all others at $30,000.

    It has been reported for decades that the figure was around $90k as sourced from Dave Fleischer’s 1968 Oral History by Joe Adamson. But the facts are contained in the actual contract. It is also to be realized that by this time in the history of Fleischer Studios, they were under the control of Paramount, and there was no tolerance for going over budget on these productions. The contract also allocated $600k for their second feature, MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN, which seems to have been brought in $100k under budget.

  • doug holverson

    No Iron Giant in the 1990s? How can you miss that?

    Minor nit-pick, the titles aren’t in chronological order.

  • Wow, what a great resource! Hope this project continues to grow!

  • This looks very helpful for my dissertation. Thank you.

  • Mr. Pointer.

    Thanks for checking the graph out.

    I do have Superman as $50,000 with the others being $30,000…I think you might be looking at the per minute cost after inflation. One thing I need to work on is to have the info that pops up line up a little better. If you mouse over the two Superman icons under shorts you will see I went with the contracts number…the graph might just be set to show you per minute based on inflation costs.

    The number I found for Mr. Bug goes to Town was $713,000ish, if you could please send them my way, or I could just go with $500kish?



  • Alberto

    wow, miyazaki films are on a much lower budget than i expected! i thought an epic like Mononoke would cost somewhere near 100million, it’s so long and on top of it absolutely gorgeous! even the older disney films were much cheaper to make with inflation, it makes me wonder what they’re spending their money on.

    also seeing that Chomet had 8mil to work with and made a masterpiece gives me hope for my own projects one day.

  • vzk

    Awesome. I’ve been looking restlessly for information regarding animation budget per minute.

    You should add Steamboy to the list, which holds the record for the most expensive anime ever made.

  • Gerard de Souza

    even the older disney films were much cheaper to make with inflation, it makes me wonder what they’re spending their money on. ….”

    Name actors, multiple writers, multiple producers, pop star composers…..

    This chart is great. However budget can’t account for where stuff is budgeted. I could safely guess the older films that the money mostly went into the actual animation process.

  • Brad Graeber: If you’re going to go through Jerry Beck’s 50 Greatest Cartoons list (which is a fine list, but it focuses solely on North America), may I also recommend adding some films from the Japanese top 150 list compiled in 2003:

  • Chuck R.

    “You should add Steamboy to the list, which holds the record for the most expensive anime ever made.”

    I like that rationale. Obviously, everyone is going to want to see their personal favs on the chart, but it would be much better to chart the extremes of spending in various categories (European, Anime, stop-motion, TV, etc.) Brad’s off to a great start and I like the way he averaged the spending on shorts per studio per decade.

  • So The Powerpuff Girls Movie cost more to animate than Triplets of Belleville?

    Who’d have thought…

  • Niffiwan: As much as I wish I could, I am not really in a position with my spare time to be taking research requests. That being said, if you have some of these budgets, years they were created, and lengths of the films or shows, for some of the pieces in your list, I would be more than happy to do the calculations, find the images etc and add them.

  • RSpaans

    Brad, thanks for this interesting comparison chart. I too would like to see an inclusion of CG and Stop-Motion features. You say you don’t want to compare across mediums, but in many ways you are doing so with the mix of TV and feature animation, and with films as Roger Rabbit in your list.

    Another thing that made me curious, does these budgets include advertising? On american films that tends to be a huge portion of the budget, and perhaps something that makes this comparison look wrong…

  • What a great, useful graph. It makes me feel so thrifty!

  • H Park

    I love the graph. It’s about time. I was shocked to see it costs $500k to produce 22 minutes long Sponge Bob Square Pants! If they give that money to a Japanese studio, they would whip out near “Akira” quality TV animation with CG and FX. I wonder half the budget goes to writers who write punchline for jokes…