10 Highest-Grossing Animated Sequels, According To Box Office Mojo

The past few decades have seen many successful animated movies, many of which have pushed the boundaries of what kind of magic can be created with the medium. Given their enormous financial and critical success, it was inevitable that many of these movies would engender franchises, with numerous sequels being pushed into production in order to capitalize on their success.

Since not all animated sequels are made equal, it’s worth taking a look at just which ones have been the most financially successful, as measured by the database Box Office Mojo.

10 Despicable Me 3 (2017) – $217 million

Like the previous two entries in the series, Despicable Me 3 focuses on the adventures of Gru, the supervillain turned hero (voiced by Steve Carell in what remains one of his best roles). Of course, the Minions are a key part of the story as well, since they try to get him to turn back to his old ways.

The movie manages to hit all of the same notes as the other entries, with just the right mix of humor, beautiful animation, and sentiment, so it’s not surprising that it managed to become a minor box office success.

9 Monsters University (2013) – $268.5 million

Pixar has produced quite a few excellent movies during their relatively short time as a studio, and they are particularly adept at crafting sequels that capture the same magic as the original. That is certainly true of Monsters University, the sequel to Monsters Inc.

In this case, the action actually takes place before the original movie, showing how Sully and Mike grew from rivals into friends during their time at the titular university. As with its predecessor, it manages to be very funny, even while exploring new aspects of its central characters.


8 Shrek The Third (2007) – $322 million

There are few animated franchises with quite the same power as Shrek, and every entry in the series has managed to become a success in its own right. This includes Shrek The Third, which picks up where the other two entries left off, with the added complication that Shrek is now in line to inherit the throne.

As with its predecessors, it has a unique sense of humor that sets it apart from other animated movies, and the fact that it reunites the beloved voice cast ensured that it would go on to financial success.

7 Despicable Me 2 (2013) – $368 million

The idea of a supervillain becoming an unlikely hero is one that has been explored many times, but hardly with just the right blend of humor, heart, and beautiful animation as in Despicable Me 2. By the time the movie starts, Gru has already begun to settle into his domestic life, but he is ultimately recruited to try to stop a new supervillain who seeks to replace him.

Unlike many sequels, this one is actually a more coherent and cohesive movie than the original, contributing to its success at the box office.

6 Toy Story 3 (2010) – $415 million

As a studio, Pixar has established a well-earned reputation for creating movies with just the right mix of joy and sadness (there are many sad moments in Pixar movies, after all). Few movies have achieved this with quite the same success as Toy Story 3, which focuses on the toys’ adventures after their beloved Andy moves away for college and they are donated.

The reunion of the original cast members, as well as the movie’s poignant story, combine to earn it a place among the best animated movies ever made.

5 Toy Story 4 (2019) – $434 million

There are few animation studios that could keep a franchise going for as long as Toy Story and manage to make each movie a success, but somehow Pixar manages to accomplish that.

As with the other entries in the series, the movie manages to capture just the right blend of animated magic and effervescent joy, as the familiar toys adjust to their life with a new owner. The movie captured just the right amount of new and old joys and pleasures to ensure that it became a tremendous success at the box office.

4 Shrek 2 (2004) – $441 million

The original Shrek was something of a cultural phenomenon, so it’s not entirely surprising that it engendered a theatrical sequel, which picks up where the previous movie left off. In this case, Shrek and Fiona find their marriage endangered but, fortunately for them, their friends are on hand to help keep the bad guys at bay.

The movie’s genius lies in its ability to capture the same sensibility of the first–including its many pop culture references–while also setting out on some territory of its own.

3 Frozen II (2019) – $477 million

There’s no question that Frozen is one of the best movies that Disney has ever made, so it’s not surprising that it would have a sequel.

In some aspects, the sequel is even better than the original, in that it gives Elsa and Anna a chance to grow and change in some important ways. And, of course, there is also the fact that the movie features the same exquisite animation and powerful songs that made the original movie such a box office powerhouse.

2 Finding Dory (2016) – $486 million

Dory is one of the best characters that Pixar has ever created, but it took a very long time in order for her to get her own movie. As with Finding Nemo, Finding Dory wears its heart on its sleeve, and it gives this extraordinary character a chance to explore her own backstory and to find her family.

Like most successful sequels, it does a very good job at combining both the new and the familiar, managing to appeal to both fans of the original and new audiences.

1 Incredibles II (2018) – $608.5 million

There have been many movies and TV shows that have addressed the double lives led by superheroes, but few have achieved quite the level of success of both The Incredibles and its sequel, The Incredibles II.

Though the title is a little unimaginative, the movie’s plot nevertheless demonstrates the story’s enduring appeal. In particular, it allows viewers to see just how complicated the central family’s lives have become as a result of their powers.

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About The Author

Thomas West (1044 Articles Published)

Thomas J. West III earned a PhD in film and screen studies from Syracuse University in 2018. His writing on film, TV, and popular culture has appeared in Screenology, FanFare, Primetimer, Cinemania, and in a number of scholarly journals and edited collections. He co-hosts the Queens of the B’s podcast with Mark Muster and writes a regular newsletter, Omnivorous, on Substack.

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