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5 Highest Grossing Pixar Films

National Money
5 Highest Grossing Pixar Films

Pixar is far from simplistic. Born from a vision of the founders, Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith and Steve Jobs, the production company became cutting edge – exciting, boundary-pushing and meaningful. Their films are educative, and humorous for both the children and the child in every adult. This personality and soul in Pixar animations let the audience relate to the characters, despite the often outlandish scenarios; which is a big part of what makes these animations so successful.

In the Disney tradition, Pixar’s characters became inextricably linked to their identity and their brand. Woody and Buzz were the stars of the studio’s first feature film, Toy Story, and the pair became global phenomenon. Nearly fifteen years later, Pixar completed the Toy Story trilogy to enormous public appreciation and critical acclaim. We all went back when Toy Story 3 hit the cinemas because Pixar had created characters in whom the viewing public was invested. For those of us who were fans as children, we had an opportunity to watch the third part of the trilogy in a more adult light – to appreciate the many layers of humour and drama contained in the cartoon.

To date, Pixar has created fourteen feature length films and received twenty-six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes and three Grammys. The prizes have added to the company’s prestige while, individually, each film continues to amass more fans, more appreciation and, crucially, more money for this animation giant.

What, therefore, is the highest grossing Pixar film? Thanks to Box Office Mojo we have the answers. Let’s walk down memory lane, revisit some of our favourite Pixar characters and along the way find the answers of which of their fourteen classics come out on top.

5. The Incredibles, 2004 ($261,441,092) 

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This original story of a superhero family was welcomed by fans, receiving positive reviews and expanding Pixar’s already huge fan base. ‘The Incredibles’ has to date grossed $261,441,092 placing it firmly in the top 5 most popular Pixar animations. Superficially, the film is about a family that happen to be superheros. More profoundly, however, the film acts as both a satirical take on the action / superhero genre and cliches as well as a sympathetic and humorous look at family dynamics.

Superheros are a potentially contentious subject matter, as they’ve been done so many times and attract quite a fanatical crew. But ‘The Incredibles’ pulled it off – and the figures show it.

4. Monsters University, 2013 ($268,492,764)

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In the prequel to the beloved ‘Monsters Inc.’ fans witness their favorite monsters in college, training to end up as the scary (well, sorta) monsters of the original. Similar to ‘The Incredibles’, ‘Monsters University’ is a joyful celebration of friendship, childhood innocence and a lesson on the art of fitting in while being yourself. Those monsters that lurk in our closets are brought into the open with the ‘Monsters’ movies, and in the preque; we witness the mechanics of their scaring training.

Monsters University juggles both the scare and funny factors just as well as the original, gives us a peek at the baddie Randall before he was bad, and allows us to spend more time with our favourite monster duo – Sully and Mike Wazowski.

3. Up, 2009 ($293,004,164)

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Who else would come up with the idea of balloons lifting a house off the ground and flying across the world? Nobody but Pixar, whose attention to detail and ability to make us care came through in Up which grossed a huge $293,004,164. In the iconic first six minutes of this movie, Pixar told us the story of Carl and Ellie’s relationship from start to finish in what’s now known as one of the most touch scenes in animated history, both bleak and beautiful. Beginning with the death of a character – in this Ellie – is not uncommon, but it’s a bold move for an animation.

Pixar, always challenging the boundaries, placed an elderly man as the protagonist in Up – perhaps risky, asking that children relate to an elderly figure. But this fresh approach was smart; a great narrative, an adorable grumpy-old-man / guileless-kid dynamic and some talking dogs later we have one of Pixar’s top 3 movies to date.

2. Finding Nemo, 2003 ($339,714,978)

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Who can forget the short term memory loss-suffering fish that struck a chord in all of our hearts. Dory, voiced by Ellen Degeneres, was introduced to us as she accidentally bumped into Marlin, the clownfish, who’s lost his son Nemo. Much like ‘Up’, ‘Finding Nemo’, starts with death – a family massacre in fact. Despite the slightly dark edge, Pixar came up with the goods with wonderfully original characters, set against the intricately beautiful and colourful ambience of the sea.

With $339,714,978 to its name and unforgettable characters, it stands to reason that Nemo would return. It was announced in April 2013 that there would be a sequel, entitled Finding Dory, which would allow us to spend even more time with the fish we laughed with. Although sequels are always responded to with caution, Pixar can do it. Sequels are not about money for Pixar, it’s about returning to characters they – and by extension we – enjoyed. This is shown even more explicitly with the highest grossing Pixar film to date.

1. Toy Story 3, 2010 ($415,004,880)

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What would Pixar be without Toy Story? Yes, number one on our list is part of the Toy Story trilogy, the third in the saga and the triumphant finale. Toy Story 3, giving us all of the great toys and new ones to boot, catered to first-time viewers but kept in mind the now-grown-up fans of the originals. Thus, Toy Story 3 is of a different standard to its preceding films; it looks at growing up and consequently deals with slightly more mature themes. Toy Story 3 grossed a huge $415,004,880, knocking every other Pixar film out of the park. It took Pixar nearly fifteen years to deliver us the final piece to the Buzz Lightyear and Woody story – but according to fans and critics alike, the wait was worth it.

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