I'm sure you're not at all shocked to know that Disney is one of the wealthiest companies in the entertainment business. They've been at the very top since as far back as the 30's. There are some side ventures that the company invests in to land a good deal of that money, but there's no denying that the there are several Disney characters who are the main reason for so much money being made.
It's not just Anna and Elsa from Frozen. You have to remember that there have been some characters kicking around Disney since the very beginning. The amount of money that Mickey Mouse and his friends have made for the company is just ridiculous. I would love even less than one percent of the money that Mickey has brought Disney.
And now that Disney also owns properties like the Marvel Universe as well as Star Wars they have even more money from even more characters. It will be interesting to see how much they make from their relationship with Pixar, but now that they've cut ties, they may end up losing money from some iconic characters, not that it will hurt them really.
Some of these were hard to pin down an annual amount for, or an overall amount, but these are definitely Disney's heavy-hitters.
20 Aurora - $324 Million
Alright, so here's the thing. The Disney Princesses will never not make a ton of money for the company. The special thing about Aurora from Sleeping Beauty is that you don't automatically think of her to be a favourite, but she is still bringing in all kinds of money. In fact, when the film first came out in 1959, North American sales alone were at $324 million! In 1959!
Now, add to that the re-release that made millions in 1986, plus all of the spin-off films, plus all of the toys and the joining up with other Disney Princesses for product pushing...and you end up with a princess who has brought billions of dollars to Disney. I can't even make a million dollars for myself...I can't imagine making billions for someone else...
19 Aladdin & Friends - $365 Million
Aladdin and his friends have done fairly well by the Disney company. They cleared $365 million with the animated film Aladdin. But that's not all they did.
They have rides at Disney, and have been included in the show Disney On Ice. They also had their own show that ran for several years on the Family Channel. And in addition to all of that, there were even some pretty amazing video games that came about because of these characters. Several of them make it into the much-loved series Kingdom Hearts which is going into its third installment in the next couple of years, so there will be even more relevance for this gang of thieves, magical beings, and our favourite princess.
18 Captain America - $408 Million
First of all, if we just look at Captain America: Civil War we learn that the captain has brought Disney a whopping $408 million. But that's just one of three films. And on top of that Captain America is also heavily featured in each of The Avengers films, so you have to account for that money. Not to mention that now every comic, every shield, and every costume is now in the pockets of the Disney executives. That's pretty damn impressive.
He is definitely a superhero for the company. I mean, Chris Evans is paid less than Robert Downey Jr, but he ends up making the same for Disney in the box office as Iron Man 3 does. That's saying a lot because the success of the Iron Man films is pretty incredible. And with so many Americans loving that star/strips shield...toy sales go to the captain.
17 Iron Man - $409 Million
Iron Man 3 pulled in $409 million which is a touch higher than what Captain America: Civil War brought in. That's pretty crazy. Iron Man has long been one of the major successes of the Marvel Universe and that was well before Disney ever made the purchase of all the Marvel properties. Iron Man had his own show, a huge run of comics...I still have some of his toys from back when I was a kid. I mean, he's a billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist...he may as well share some of that wealth with Disney, right?
And it's not like Robert Downey Jr. is hurting by any means. I mean he might be physically hurt at the end of his training day, but he's making more money than any of the other Avengers, so he must be making Disney the right kind of money.
16 Captain Jack Sparrow - $423 Million
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest schooled the first film by quite a bit. It ended up bringing in $423 million domestically. So, just imagine what it brought worldwide. Not to mention that there are now a hundred Pirates of the Caribbean films out there...or at least it feels like it.
Each of them has done very well at the box office even though some of them are definitely terrible movies. But, Johnny Depp is the right man to bring the crowds in. And then you get actors like Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy, and a sneak peek with Keith Richards and you're making a ton of money. Oh, yeah, and I guess Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley were in the first one as well. For those who didn't know, there was a Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land well before the films came out, so Captain Jack Sparrow has been making the company money for a long time.
15 Wolverine - $1 Billion
Although Fox owned the X-Men for years, now that it has switched over, all that money that Wolverine pulls in will be going to Disney (lucky them).
Just before X Men III hit the box office, Wolverine was not really pulling his weight (and since he has that heavy adamantium skeleton, he's got a lot of weight to pull). He was only delivering $900 million. That changed with the release of Wolverine's solo films, and after X3.
This clawed Canadian has been pulling in over a $1 billion consistently for some time now and that's even including the years of downtime between each and every new solo film. It's no wonder why they keep doing the films. I'd be happy if they stopped pumping out more and more Wolverine films. I think he needs a break. But if people keep buying, then the films will keep coming, and Disney will keep making billions.
14 Dory - $1 Billion
People loved the character of Dory from Finding Nemo so much that when Finding Dory came out just over ten years after the premiere film, it blew up box offices all over the world. Dory made $486 million domestically, but she ended up landing over $1 billion worldwide. That's pretty amazing.
I think some of that credit must go to Ellen DeGeneres who gave life to that character by way of a voice that would "just keep singing". Beyond that, it's incredible that people wanted to see so much more of Dory than they did of Nemo. I should maybe say that most of the credit should go to Ellen. Without her hilarity and the brilliant animation, Dory's sequel film could have been a huge flop. But now she's making billions for Disney.
13 Jessica Rabbit - $1 Billion
If you haven't seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit...well, I'm pretty sure you still know who Jessica Rabbit is. I don't think anyone ever has fully understood how it is that this vixen of a cartoon ended up marrying Roger (other than that he makes her laugh). It's a very strange pairing. Either way, when Jessica Rabbit first appeared, she made Disney almost 450 million pounds. If you know much about exchange rates, that means she brought in damn near $1 billion for Disney.
Now, you might not have realized that Jessica is, in fact, a Disney character. After all, the production company that put the film out was Touchstone. But just so you know, that's a production company owned by Disney where they push some of their racier films.
12 Belle - $1 Billion
First of all, Belle is just the best princess. She is. Not even just the best Disney Princess. She's the best princess in general. And this was solidified when one of the most beautiful actors in the world, Emma Watson, played the role of Belle in the recent live-action Beauty and the Beast.
The original animated film took in over $330 million at the box office. Then it had an IMAX release as well as a 3D release. And there have also been several sequels and spin-off films. That already puts Belle at over a billion dollars. But then if you add the most recent film with the lovely Miss Watson...that film cleared well over $1 billion at the box office alone. Imagine what it will do with Blue Ray sales and digital downloads and product-pushing as well. Like I said...Belle is simply the best princess.
11 Cinderella - $1 Billion
This is just insanity. The original Cinderella film came out in 1950, and when it hit cinemas...it made just shy of $1 billion! That's crazy for an animated film back in 1950! Who the hell had the money to spend on that film? The war had ended not five years before the release.
I know the economy did take an upswing, but it wasn't that fast. It's still boggling my mind thinking about how a cartoon made about a billion dollars back then. Either way, this film has been reissued at least twice now and there have been all sorts of spin-offs and products sold to continually make money off of her. Just like the wicked step-mother, it seems Disney just likes to use Cinderella to get the job done. Well, at least she repeatedly finds her prince every time they reissue the film!
10 Simba & Company - $1.2 Billion
Simba and his friends Timon and Pumba have made Disney about $1.2 billion. That's a decent haul. Especially since The Lion King came out in 1994 and had a re-release in 3D in cinemas sometime around 2012. Not to mention the Saturday cartoon of Timon and Pumba. And do you know where almost half of that total revenue has come from? From Broadway! That's right. That hit musical is responsible for almost half of the total revenue that Simba and his mates have made.
I was lucky enough to see the production in Toronto back when tickets weren't too expensive. It wasn't a bad show. At least this was before dancers on the show started coming forward about how dangerous it was.
9 Snow White - $1.3 Billion
Snow White is just amazing. It's pretty cool that Aurora and Cinderella took as much money as they did in the 1950's, but Snow White hit the screens in 1937...and this character cleaned house! Not in the same way Cinderella did. I mean she made a ton of money for Disney. In 1927, Snow White made Disney $1.3 billion! That is just breathtaking.
World War II was still a little while away and I guess people were creeping out of The Depression and looking to feel good with some fun-loving little dwarves and a beautiful Disney Princess. It was the right time for Disney to push this character and the amount they still make on her and her dwarf friends is incredible! Snow White was released again both in the 80's and 90's making well over $100 million.
8 Anna & Elsa - $1.5 Billion
After only a year of Frozen hitting the cinemas, Anna and Elsa had made Disney over $1.5 billion. Now, we're several years on and they've done nothing but steadily go up in value. There's a Disney On Ice feature for them (of course, because Frozen sort of fits with ice), there's another film in the making....and the limited edition dolls? They are now thousands of dollars each!
I think it's safe to say that, at least next to Mickey and Winnie (and without looking into the Marvel or Star Wars properties), Anna and Elsa will be top of the Disney money-making pool for many years to come.
7 Buzz & Woody - $2 Billion
These two guys have been together through three films and have made a ton of money together. Besides the box office smash that was Toy Story 3, the other main source of revenue from these two pieces of plastic is from...well, from toy sales, of course! How could it be anything but that?
I still have both a Buzz Lightyear and a Woody action figure. They're pretty awesome. So awesome, these guys have made over $2 billion for Disney and their stocks keep going up and up. Sure, it's been a few years since the last film came out but those toys are still being sold at every Disney Store around the world. They might not sell as much as the Anna and Elsa dolls, but they're still up there.
6 Kylo Ren - $2 Billion
Worldwide, Star Wars: The Force Awakens made over $2 billion at the box office alone. That's before you get into video games, toys, collectibles, and spin-off comics, cartoons and so on. And while I could just say it's because it was another Star Wars movie, I won't. I don't think this film did so well because of Han Solo and seeing Luke Skywalker for a second time. I think it's because of how badass Kylo Ren looked in each and every trailer for the film.
Now, his character ended up being a disappointment very early on in the film, but there's still some hope for him. After all, he did end up killing Solo (which needed to happen). As of right now Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not doing as well. I think because Kylo Ren no longer seems as badass. So, he's still making over $1 billion for Disney, but he's done better in the past.
5 Nemo - $2 Billion
This little clown has grossed more than $2 billion in a year for Disney. He's not even 15 years old and he's got an incredible fan base. He's not alone though. His friend who suffers from short-term memory loss and is played by Ellen DeGeneres, Dory, is doing fairly well also. Of course, Nemo's film over $700 million, and he's had more time to make the company some money through product sales and so on, but Dory is up there for sure.
Either way, I bet the voice actor for Nemo really likes to turn around to people and say "what am I a clown? I make you laugh?" I can just picture it. Because I think this particular clown is the only one to make over $2 billion...even if it's more a giant company and not for himself.
4 Spider-Man - $2 Billion
In 2002, Spidey brought in over #2 billion for Disney. He went down to just over $1 billion the following year, but now with the latest film out, the new video game in VR, and the fact that's he's joined up with The Avengers at long last, I can only imagine that this web-slinging nerd brings in many more billions every year for Disney.
It's amazing how much more money Disney makes now that they own the entire Marvel Universe. Sure, their films cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but if they're pulling in billions each year from individual characters, and only from their Marvel properties...well, just imagine the amount of money Disney makes overall each and every year.
3 Scrooge McDuck - $210 Billion
Alright, I'm lying. Scrooge McDuck is not one of the top grossing Disney characters of all time. But he certainly is the richest of all of them. You know that mountain of money he skies down and dives into all the time? Well, someone went out of their way to try and calculate the size of the hill, the surrounding mounds, and how many gold coins would fit into those spaces. The verdict? It turns out that Scrooge McDuck has at least $210 billion in his vault. And that's not including the cash the ducklings use to make trees out of.
When this calculation was done back in 2012, the richest man on Earth only had $70 billion. Leave it to Disney to construct a character who is wealthier than every other being on the Earth...who then shows it off at the start of every single episode.
2 Winnie The Pooh & Friends - $5.6 Billion
I actually can't believe just how much that Winnie and his friends have made for Disney. They bring in $5.6 billion in terms of revenue for the company...in a year! These guys don't even work hard!
Pooh basically sits around until he smells honey, then always gets himself into a mess. I think Tigger is probably a more iconic character than Pooh is, and it's a good thing that they're friends. After all, we know that the wonderful thing about Tigger is that he's the only one. However, I guess it's Winnie's name on most of the franchise products (even if Tigger is the more popular of the two). But again, that's the reason why I put Winnie The Pooh and friends on the entry heading. Winnie could never have done it on his own.
1 Mickey Mouse & Friends - $5.8 Billion
Mickey had his 75th anniversary back in 2004 and even at that point, the high-pitched topless mouse had made upwards of $5.8 billion for the company. That's insane. I mean, to be fair he did first appear back in the earlier half of the last century in the production of Steamboat Willy, so he has had a lot of time to make money for Disney. He is the Disney mascot after all.
People buy caps with his ears on them as souvenirs at Disney Land. He has his own video games. He used to have his own club. He's even shown up as a significant character in games like Kingdom Hearts. It's pretty crazy to think he's starred alongside Final Fantasy characters. He seems out of place, but there's no questioning that he's pulled in much more money than all of them.