There have been so many arguments made about the proper way to entertain children but the truth is, nowadays it is becoming more difficult to restrict their access to screens. Parents are spending more and more money on cell phones, tablets, e-readers and many other screen-tech devices. Thus, their access to movies and videos is also increasing. With such disposal to movies at home and on the go, the film industry has been more apt to create big budget blockbusters that will get people in the theater doors. Family movies have proven to be a great way to do this.
With the recent critical and commercial success of Disney’s 2013 film Frozen, praised for both its production value and moral value, there has been a strong desire to reflect upon the lessons children learn from movies. Although, something else worth considering here is how much it costs to entertain kids these days. This 3-D computer-animated film had a budget of $150 million, but that seems like nothing compared to the almost $1.1 Billion it has grossed so far. Since the reemergence of 3-D and the increasing digitization of the cinema, animated family films have not only been some of the most expensive to produce, but have some of the highest returns as well. Let’s have a glance at 10 of today’s kids favorite movies that have budgets of over $150 million, all of which boast major box-office returns.
10. Shrek Forever After at $165 Million
Feeling bogged down by family life, Shrek decides to set out to find his inner-Ogre, to be wild and free again. But antics ensue when Shrek encounters Rumpelstiltskin and soon learns to be more careful what he wishes for. This 3-D computer-animation was worth the dough. It came in as the second highest grossing animation of 2010, just behind Toy Story 3, bringing in a box-office total of over $750 Million. The film is the fourth in the Shrek series and was said to mark the end of the franchise.
9. The Polar Express at $165 Million
Doubting the mysterious truth behind Christmas and Santa Claus, a young boy boards a train headed to the North Pole, on which he will learn the truth about magic. Adapted from a 1980’s children’s book, this one was the first of its kind, produced entirely with new motion-capture technology, allowing it to hold a Guinness book record. It stars Tom Hanks in six different roles, and was also the last film to feature Michael Jeter who died unexpectedly just before the film’s release. It brought in a box office total of over $307 Million.
8. Up at $175 Million
This Pixar picture brought audiences everywhere to tears in its depiction of an unlikely relationship between a young boy and a lonely old man. Together, they set out for an adventure as Carl attempts to live out his life-long dream of finding a lost land in honor of his recently deceased wife. It was also the first film released in Disney Digital 3-D. The film was nominated for 5 Oscars, including Best Picture which had only ever been considered for one other animation – Beauty and the Beast. The film brought in a worldwide box-office return of over $730 million.
7. Monsters vs Aliens at $175 Million
This action-packed story follows a crew of misfit monsters who are called upon by the President to save the world from an alien invasion. With such an all-star cast, from Hugh Laurie to Seth Rogen, it’s no surprise so much was spent on this one. The film had positive reviews and opened as the 5th most successful IMAX debut. About the film, Roger Ebert stated “I guess kids will like this”, suggesting there was little in it for adults to enjoy. The film grossed nearly $382 million worldwide at the box-office.
6. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at $180 Million
Children become heroes in this one, when during a game of hide-and-seek a young girl discovers a magical land overrun by an evil witch. A mix of live-action and computer-animation, this children’s fantasy was based on the critically acclaimed 1949-1954 book series written by C.S. Lewis. It quickly became 2005’s third most successful film and went on to win multiple Academy Awards. It boasts a box-office total of just over $745 million worldwide.
5. Wall-E at $180 Million
Pixar’s sci-fi/drama about robots with thoughtful themes addressing the issues of technology, environmental waste, and even religion, made quite the splash when it hit theatres in 2008. The film even allowed plenty of time for reflection on the major connotations of the story as a result of its minimalist approach to dialogue. Obviously one for the whole family, it’s box-office return was just over $521 million.
4. The Golden Compass at $180 Million
A young girl gets more than she bargained for when her search for adventure finds her in a battle to uncover secrets of the universe. This is a fantasy-adventure based on a novel by Phillip Pullman, and the film did face some controversy surrounding the theme of religion. Sourced from an explicitly anti-Catholic story, the film did downplay the anti-religiousness which offended fans of the book. Meanwhile, some were upset that an anti-religious movie was being made in the first place. Still, it managed to gross over $370 million at the box-office.
3. Cars 2 at $200 Million
This one follows the story of a car named, Lightening McQueen as he sets out to race in the Grand Prix – if he doesn’t get caught up in too much trouble that is. A follow up to the 2006 film Cars, this one received mixed critical reviews. But hey, the kids loved it. It opened at #1 in North America that weekend, and surpassed Pixar’s previous successes such as Toy Story and Monster’s Inc. The franchise has since spawned spin-offs and even video games. Ultimately, it cleaned up at the box-office with a gross of nearly $560 million.
2. Toy Story 3 at $200 Million
Bringing to life for the third time Andy’s beloved toys, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and the rest of the gang, this franchise seems to never disappoint. Shipped off to a daycare centre when Andy leaves for college, this last instalment definitely dealt with darker themes than the first 2. It garnered a ton of attraction and critical acclaim claiming for its franchise the title of “the best movie trilogy of all time”, dubbed by the BBC. Only recently surpassed by Frozen this one had an animation record for box-office return at over $1 billion.
1. Tangled at $260 Million
This computer-animated musical is loosely based on the story of Rapunzel and is especially unique in its blending of CG with traditional animation. Rather than being saved by Prince Charming, in this version, Rapunzel takes matters into her own hands as she searches for truth and freedom, all while experiencing the world for the very first time. The film was a great success. It was nominated for a number of awards and grossed an impressive $590 million at the box-office, although you may have noticed that this is still less profit than some of the smaller budget films on this list.