The Undisputed (But Not Unchallenged) Champion of Animation

A few weeks back, Pixar released their latest movie, Inside Out. Like most Pixar movies, it was a critical and commercial hit. The animated film, starring Amy Poehler and Bill Hader, has a 98% on rottentomatoes. It’s made over $270 Million domestically, 4th highest so far this year. Pixar is no doubt the animated Kings of Summer. That doesn’t mean other studios haven’t tried to take them down.


Yesterday, Universal released Minions, a spin-off of the popular Despicable Me series. While Minions sits at a much lower 55% on rottentomatoes, it’s projected to makes $120 Million this weekend. Inside Out only made $91 Million in its opening weekend. Is this just a surprise success story. How have other big summer animated movies done against Pixar?

We’ll start all the way back to the summer of 2003. Although Pixar had made multiple movies by then, 2003’s Finding Nemo was Pixar’s first summer release.


Finding Nemo

$381 Million  99%


Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (Dreamworks)

$26 Million  46%

This one wasn’t even close. Finding Nemo may be Pixar’s greatest success. A sequel, Finding Dory, is set to come out next summer. On the other hand, you probably have never heard of Sinbad. I know the 90’s comedian but not this bomb made by Dreamworks.



$244 Million  74%


Over the Hedge (Dreamworks)

$155 Million  75%


Ice Age: The Meltdown (Fox)

$195 Million  57%

Pixar did not release any movies in the summers of 2004 or 2005. Their lone release was The Incredibles, released in November 2004. Dreamworks had no competition against Shrek 2 in 2004 or Madagascar in 2005.

Pixar had some real competition this summer but they still came out on top.  Cars is thought of as one of Pixar’s worst yet the other studios didn’t put out strong enough movies to knock out Pixar.



$206 Million  96%


Shrek the Third (Dreamworks)

$323 Million  40%

The third Shrek movie killed Ratatouille at the box office. Pixar’s movie was much better received critically but that was not enough to get more people to see it than Shrek.



$298 Million  96%


Kung Fu Panda (Dreamworks)

$215  Million  87%

Kung Fu Panda was a strong challenger to Pixar’s most artful film Wall-E. Pixar again came out on top though.



$293 Million  98%


Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (Fox)

$197 Million  45%

The third Ice Age was no match for my favorite Pixar movie, Up.


Toy Story 3

$415 Million  99%


Shrek Forever After (Dreamworks)

$239 Million  58%


Despicable Me (Universal)

$252 Million  81%

We were all worried about how Toy Story 3 would turn out. It had been over ten years since the release of Toy Story 2. We wrote about those movies earlier. Toy Story 3 absolutely killed it though.

I thought it should have won the Best Picture Oscar that year. It did have some decent challengers though. One was the last try from a dying but still money making franchise. The other was the first entry of what turned out to be a successful series. Still, Toy Story 3 won and it wasn’t really close.


Cars 2

$191 Million  39%


Kung Fu Panda 2 (Dreamworks)

$165 Million  81%


Rio (Fox)

$144 Million  72%


Hop (Universal)

$108 Million  25%

Cars 2, the weakest of the Pixar movies had many challengers. It looks like the other studios sensed the weakness of Cars 2 and tried to take advantage. Cars 2 still made the most money though. It seems like the result was that all these movies split the audiences and none ended up as a hit. Kung Fu Panda had the most critical acclaim and wasn’t a flop so I am comfortable in declaring it the winner of the summer of 2011.



$237 Million  78%


Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (Dreamworks)

$216 Million  79%


Ice Age: Continental Drift (Fox)

$161 Million  37%


Paranorman (Universal)

$56 Million  87%

Another year with many challengers and another year where Pixar comes out on top. Madagascar 3 was very close to beating Brave though. Should Pixar be worried?


Monsters University

$268 Million  78%


Despicable Me 2 (Universal)

$368 Million  74%

Turbo (Dreamworks)

$83 Million  67%


Epic (Fox)

$108 Million  64%

We have a new winner. Monsters University got a little better critic score but Despicable Me 2 made $100 Million more at the box office. The other two challengers were not even close.


No Pixar Movie


How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dreamworks)

$177 Million  92%


Rio 2 (Fox)

$132 Million  48%

Pixar took the year off. That left Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon 2 to win the summer. It easily defeated Rio 2.

Pixar’s Final Score

Box Office – 7/9

Critic’s Score – 6/9

Pixar has release nine summer movies, not including this year. They had the top grossing animated film in seven of those years and the highest critic’s score in six. That’s pretty good.


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