Walt Disney Animation Studios, an American animation studio with headquarters in Burbank, California and is owned by The Walt Disney Company has been creating animated feature films. The studio has produced 56 feature films, beginning with Show White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. It is a full-length animated feature film and the first one made in the United States. More recently, Moana (2016) was also made in the U.S.
There are other films in the making with Ralf Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 set for release on November 21, 2018, Frozen 2 on November 27, 2019, and two untitled films set for November 25, 2020 and November 24, 2021 releases, respectively.
Here are the top highest grossing animated movies OF ALL TIME released by Disney as tabulated by rankings.com. The gross income has been adjusted for inflation as accurately as possible:
1. Show White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937) = Adjusted Gross: $782,620,000
This was America’s first feature-length animated film, as well as the first Disney Animated Canon. This is the name given to the series of Disney theatrical animated feature films since 1937. It was also the first in English and the first in Technicolor.
The film is an adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale in which the beautiful Snow White tries to escape the vanity and wrath of her evil stepmother, the Queen, who is jealous of her beauty. She orders the murder of her innocent stepdaughter, but later discovers that Snow White is still alive and hiding in a cottage with seven friendly little miners. Disguising herself as a hag, the queen brings a poisoned apple to Snow White, who falls into a death-like sleep that can be broken only by a kiss from the prince.
2. 101 Dalmatians (1961) = Adjusted Gross: $717,405,900
Originally released to theaters on January 25, 1961 by Buena Vista Distribution, One Hundred and One Dalmatians was a box office success which pulled the studio out of financial slump caused by Sleeping Beauty, which cost more to produce two years earlier. Often abbreviated as 101 Dalmatians, this 1961 American animated adventure film was based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith.
The 17th Disney animated feature film tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who were kidnapped by the evil Cruella de Vil who wants to use their fur for a coat. Their parents, Pongo and Perdita embarked on a mission to save their children from Cruella, and in the process rescued 84 additional puppies that were bought in pet shops, bringing the total Dalmatians to 101.
3. Fantasia (1941) = Adjusted Gross: $596,252,200
Fantasia is the third Walt Disney Production’s animated feature film released in 1940. The film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music.
The concept of the film was decided nearing the completion of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a Silly Symphonies short originally designed as a comeback role for Mickey Mouse who had declined in popularity. Silly Symphony is a series of 75 animated short films produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939 which were originally intended as whimsical accompaniments to pieces of music.
Disney decided to include the short in a feature-length film with other segments set to classical pieces as the production cost grew higher that what it could earn. Using Fantasound, a pioneering sound reproduction system, Fantasia was the first commercial film shown in stereophonic sound.
First released in theatrical roadshow engagements in thirteen U.S. cities in 1940, the film did not make a profit due to World War II, although it was acclaimed by critics. The film was subsequently reissued several times with modifications especially in the sound and was distributed to the European market.
As of 2012, Fantasia has grossed $76.4 million in domestic revenue and is the 22nd highest grossing film of all time in the U.S. when adjusted for inflation.
Even the franchise has grown to include video games, Disneyland attractions, a live concert, and a theatrically released sequel to the movie, Fantasia 2000 in 1999, co-produced by Walt’s nephew Roy E. Disney. In 1998 the American Film Institute ranked it as the 58th greatest American film in their 100 Years…100 Movies and the fifth greatest animated film in their 10 Top 10 list.
4. The Lion King (1994) = Adjusted Gross: $554,524,300
The Lion King, released in 1994, is the 32nd Disney animated feature film and the fifth animated film produced during a period known as the Disney Renaissance. This refers to the era from 1989 to 1999 during which Walt Disney Feature Animation (renamed Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006) experienced a creative resurgence in producing successful animated films based on well-known stories, which restored public and critical interest in The Walt Disney Company as a whole. The film was directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, produced by Don Hahn.
In the story, Simba leaves the animal kingdom thinking that he has killed his own father, Mustafa. Given some valuable perspective by his childhood friend, Nala, and his shaman, Rafiki, he returned to challenge his father’s murderer: his uncle, Scar. Thus he ended his tyranny and take his place in the Circle of Life as the rightful King.
Released on June 15, 1994, the film was praised by critics for its music, story, and animation. It finished its theatrical run as the highest-grossing release of 1994 and the second highest-grossing film of all time. It is also the highest-grossing traditionally animated film of all time.
The Lion King won two Academy Awards for its achievement in music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Music or Comedy. The film has also been adapted for Broadway presentations, sequel and prequel and television series.
In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. A CGI live-action remake of the film directed by Jon Favreau is scheduled for a July 19, 2019 release in the United States.
5. The Jungle Book (1967) = Adjusted Gross: $529,021,800
The Jungle Book is the 19th Disney animated feature film inspired by Ridyard Kipling’s book of the same title. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production.
The plot revolves around Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves. His friends Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear try to convince him to leave and join the village of humans before the evil tiger Shere Khana arrives and harm their pack.
The Jungle Book was released in October 18, 1967 to a positive reception which praised its soundtrack, featuring five songs by the Sherman Brothers and one by Gilkyson, “The Bare Necessities”. The film grossed over $23.8 million worldwide during its first release, and from two re-releases later. Disney released a live-action remake in 1994 and an animated sequel, The Jungle Book 2, in 2003, and another live-action adaptation directed by Jon Favreau in 2016.
6. Sleeping Beauty (1959) = Adjusted Gross: $521,814,100
The 16th Disney animated feature film Sleeping Beauty was based on The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault. It was released to theaters on January 29, 1959 and was the last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale for some years. This was due to the initial mixed critical reception and poor gross earnings at the box office. The studio did not return to the genre until 30 years later and after Walt Disney died in 1966, with the release of The Little Mermaid (1989).
The story tells how three fairies try to protect a princess, Aurora, from the spell cast by the evil witch, Maleficent. Instead of dying on her 16th birthday, the guardian fairies made her fall into a deep sleep that can be ended only with a kiss from her betrothed, Prince Philip.
Sleeping Beauty was the first animated film photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated feature film to be filmed in anamorphic widescreen. The first was Disney’s own Lady and the Tramp four years earlier. The film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound in first-run engagements.
7. Pinocchio (1940) = Adjusted Gross: $483,955,900
Pinocchio is the second animated feature film produced by Disney after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Based on the Italian children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, critics analyzed it as a simple morality tale that teaches children of the benefits of hard work and middle-class values.
Although it was the first animated feature to win an Academy Award – Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Original Song for “When You Wish Upon A Star” – it was initially a box office disaster. Its 1945 reissue made profit and is considered one of the greatest animated films ever made by the website Rotten Tomatoes with a rare 100% rating. In 1994, Pinocchio was added to the United States National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The plot revolves around an old wood-carver, Geppetto, who upon seeing a falling star, wishes that the puppet he just finished, Pinocchio, could become a real boy. In the night, the Blue Fairy grants Geppetto’s wish. Pinocchio, along with his nose, is guided through various troubles by a cricket, Jiminy Cricket, as boy’s conscience. The wooden boy must prove himself to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish” in order to become a real boy. But the naive and trusting Pinocchio falls into the clutches of the wicked Honest John, who leads him astray to the sinful Pleasure Island.
Pinocchio was a groundbreaking achievement in the area of effects animation, giving realistic movement to vehicles, machinery and natural elements such as rain, lightning, smoke, shadows and water. The film was released to theaters by RKO Radio Pictures on February 7, 1940.
8. Bambi (1942) = Adjusted Gross: $457,455,400
Bambi, which was released by RKO Radio Pictures on August 13, 1942, is the fifth Disney animated film feature. The story was based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian author, Felix Salten.
In June 2008, Bambi placed third in animation in the American Film Institute list of its “10 Top 10” – the best ten films in each of ten classic American film genres. In December 2011, the film was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
The story revolves around the main characters, Bambi, his parents (the Great Prince of the Forest and his unnamed mother), his friends Thumper (a pink-nosed rabbit), and Flower (a skunk) and his childhood friend and future mate, Faline. He learns from his mother and father that besides the delight of the forest, there is danger in open meadows where hunters can see them. Though fear and tragedy touch Bambi’s life, another spring brings renewal.
9. Finding Nemo (2003) = Adjusted Gross: $404,503,100
Finding Nemo which was released on May 30, 2003, is an American computer-animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film has received universal critical acclaim since its release and has won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, nominated in three more categories, including Best Original Screenplay. Finding Nemo became the highest-grossing animated film at the time and was the second highest-grossing film of 2003, earning a total of $871 million worldwide by the end of its initial theatrical run.
The story revolves around Marlin, a clownfish, and the father of Nemo who has foreshortened fin. Nemo is captured by a diver and taken away from his coral reef home. Horrified, his father set out to find him. A blue reef fish named Dory- who has a really short memory — joins Marlin and complicates the encounters with sharks, jellyfish, and a host of ocean dangers. Meanwhile, Nemo plots his escape from a dentist’s fish tank.
As of 2006, the film is the best-selling DVD title of all time with over 40 million copies sold. It was also the highest-grossing G-rated film of all time before Pixar’s own Toy Story 3 overtook it. In 2012, the film was re-released in 3D. In 2008, the American Film Institute named it the 10th greatest animated film ever made and in 2016 poll of international critics, the film was voted as one of the 100 greatest motion pictures since 2000. A sequel, Finding Dory, was released on June 2016.
10. Lady and the Tramp (1955) = Adjusted Gross: $400,176,500
Lady and the Tramp is the 15th Disney animated feature film. It was a romantic musical comedy-drama produced by Walt Disney and released to theaters on June 22, 1955 by Buena Vista Distribution. It was the first animated feature filmed in the CinemaScope widescreen film process.
Based on Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog by Ward Greene, Lady and the Tramp tells the story of a female American Cocker Spaniel named Lady who lives with a refined, upper-middle class family. The other character, Tramp, is a male stray mongrel. When the two dogs met, they embark on many romantic adventures. A direct-to-video sequel, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure, was released in 2001.