Almost a century ago, Hollywood understood that children were an audience unto themselves. The strategy to tap this audience has been part of motion picture production since then. No one was better at targeting this group than Walt Disney, whose films, released over several decades, include characters like Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi. These characters would become the cornerstone of what is among the largest entertainment companies in the world: The Walt Disney Company. The new release of “Turning Red” certainly will extend its success in producing movies for children.
Disney also has turned motion pictures for children into another massive business. Its theme parks are partially based on the popularity of these “child-targeted” characters.
While kids movies are ostensibly only for the young, many of them appeal to audiences of all ages. Some of the highest-grossing examples weave in humor that might go over the heads of younger audiences but keep grown-ups amused. And good kids films tell powerful stories that everyone can enjoy.
To identify the highest-grossing kids movie of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed both total and inflation-adjusted North American box office grosses for “kids fiction” movies from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. The site defines North America as the United States (including Puerto Rico and Guam) and Canada. Source material for each film also came from The Numbers. Top-billed actors for each film we considered came from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon.
While there are a few live-action movies like “Night at the Museum,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and Jim Carrey’s version of “The Grinch” on the list we considered, most of them were animated and tell fantasy tales filled with magical princesses, strange monsters and anthropomorphic creatures. A lot of our candidates are based on old fairy tales or classic children’s books from the likes of Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss.
The most successful kids movie of all time is “Incredibles 2” (2018). Here are the details:
- Domestic ticket sales: $608,581,744
- Domestic ticket sales (inflation adjusted): $611,921,929 (fifth out of 100 top-grossing kids’ films)
- Based on: Original screenplay
- Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner
Fourteen years after the premiere of its predecessor, the Incredibles family returned to the big screen for an action-packed sequel. The story picks up where the last film left off and sees the family of superheroes once again having to navigate family life, public opinion, laws and ever-threatening super villains. Bringing the franchise back certainly paid off for Pixar. It made the top of this list for domestic ticket sales and, in less than a month, it surpassed the first film’s worldwide box office revenue for its entire run. It would debut to make $183 million in its opening weekend in North America, smashing the record that “Finding Dory” previously held.
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