Top 10 Most Expensive Animated Movies
Top 10 Most Expensive Animated Movies

Top 10 Most Expensive Animated Movies

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
Animation is rarely cheap, but these are the most expensive animated movies ever made. Our countdown includes "WALL-E," "The Lion King," "Toy Story 3," and more!

Top 10 Most Expensive Animated Movies

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Expensive Animated Movies.

Studios spend big money making animated films and for this list, we’ll be looking at the ones that cost them the most, from concept to completion.

Which ones do you think were worth the money? Tell us in the comments!

#10: “A Christmas Carol” (2009)

“A Christmas Carol” is an animated film based on the famous tale by Charles Dickens. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it uses the same motion-capture technique that he had previously used in his films “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf.” While the budgets were roughly $165 and $150 million for those films respectively, he raised the stakes with “A Christmas Carol” and spent $175 million to bring this classic tale to the big screen. And although the film brought in $325 million at the box office, it was still considered a relative disappointment considering the large budget.

#9: “WALL-E” (2008)

If the cost of animated movies was directly related to the amount of dialogue in the film then “WALL-E” would certainly not have found a place on this list. However, while light on dialogue, the film is heavy on heart, soul, some amazing animation and people sitting on floating chairs. And it all came at a cost of $180, million which Disney/Pixar made back easily, and then some, when the movie grossed over $520 million worldwide. It also won an Oscar and was even hailed by some as one of the best films of the decade.

#8: “Brave” (2012)

You have to be brave to spend $185 million to make a movie - especially one that doesn’t have super heroes and isn’t based on a comic book. But that’s exactly what Disney and Pixar did back in 2012 with the film, “Brave.” The film featured Pixar’s first Disney Princess, was the hopping-lamp studio’s first major film with a female protagonist, as well as their first feature-length film directed by a woman. And it thankfully all paid off for the studio, financially as well as creatively, bringing in an Oscar for best animated film and over $540 million around the world.

#7: “Finding Dory” (2016)

In 2004, “Finding Nemo” cost $94 million to make and grossed over $940 million at the worldwide box office. Given those numbers, we aren’t surprised that Disney found more money 13 years later when they set out to make “Finding Dory.” In fact, they found over $100 million more, for a total budget of $200 million when all was said and done. And what did they get for that $200 million? They got a 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a global haul of over $1 billion - becoming only the second Pixar film to cross the billion dollar barrier, after “Toy Story 3” did it six years prior.

#6: “Monsters University” (2013)

Post-secondary education is expensive! Disney and Pixar spent $200 million sending Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan to “Monsters University.” That sure does sound like a scary number, and it is indeed almost double what they had spent on “Monsters, Inc.” 12 years before. But thankfully for all considered, the filmmakers didn’t leave university with the kind of debt that most people do. The studios actually walked away from their time at monster school with hundreds of millions of dollars in their pockets, since the film did over $740 million of business around the world.

#5: “Incredibles 2” (2018)

While $200 million might sound like an incredible amount of money to spend on a movie, when it comes to superhero films, that number is actually super reasonable. Go back to 2007, and it cost over $250 million to make “Spider-Man 3,” or check out the over $350 million that was spent on “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019. Disney shelled out around $92 million on “The Incredibles” in 2004 and it was a major success, grossing over $600 million. “Incredibles 2,” with its $200 million budget, more than doubled that of the original, but also doubled up the profits, grossing more than $1.2 billion worldwide.

#4: “Cars 2” (2011)

They’ve made three “Cars” movies so far and each one has cost the studio over $100 million to bring to the big screen. However, while the first one at $120 million and the third at $175 million were expensive, it was the second film in the series that emptied Disney’s pockets the most, with a budget of $200 million. But while Lightning McQueen and the gang were expensive cars to get off the assembly line, they brought in lots more money than they took out of the Disney coffers. The three films raked in over $1.2 billion with “Cars 2” doing the most business with over $562 million at the box office.

#3: “Toy Story 3” (2010)

In 1995, the first “Toy Story” movie was the first entirely computer-animated feature film and was made for only about $30 million. Fifteen years later,“Toy Story 3” cost a whopping $200 million. So, what did $200 million dollars get? It became the first animated film to surpass $1 billion dollars at the box office, becoming the highest grossing film of 2010 as well as the third animated film to ever be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. That certainly sounds like money well spent!. Nine years later it was another $200 million on “Toy Story 4,” and that one also made over $1 billion. Big risk, big reward!

#2: “The Lion King” (2019)

If you thought $200 million was a lot of money to spend on an animated movie, what do you think about the huge budget Disney spent to make the 2019 version of “The Lion King”? While the first film, released in 1994, was made using traditional animation, and cost $45 million, the 2019 version was made using photorealistic computer-animation and cost $260 million. Although that number has it tied with the next film on our list for the highest-budget ever for an animated film, the movie went on to gross over $1.6 billion, making it the highest-grossing animated film of all time. That’s certainly more for the roar.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” (2018)
It Cost $175 Million, but Ralph Broke the Internet and the Bank

“Inside Out” (2015)
Might Have Felt Fear Spending $175 Million, but Turned Out All Joy

“Up” (2009)
A Budget of $175 Million Buys a Lot of Balloons

“Monsters vs. Aliens” (2009)
This Epic Animated Battle Took $175 Million to Bring to the Big Screen

“Coco” (2017)
Cost $175 Million and Was First Nine-Figure Movie to Feature All-Latino Main Cast

#1: “Tangled” (2010)

In general we don’t think the cost to make an animated movie is directly related to the length of the protagonist's hair, but in this case it could be somewhat accurate. The star of “Tangled” is, of course, the uber-long haired Princess Rapunzel, but her long locks were probably not the reason for the film's mega-budget, at $260 million. The movie was in production for six years and was created with multiple animation techniques, combining computer and traditional animation as well as non-photorealistic rendering, to make it all look amazing. Although this one didn’t join the billion dollar club, it was yet another Disney success, with the film grossing over $590 million worldwide.