Is this the biggest year for animated movies ever?

Is this the biggest year for animated movies ever? July 13, 2016

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Here’s a fun trivia bit: animated movies have been #1 at the box office for the past four weeks (three weeks for Finding Dory and one week for The Secret Life of Pets), and the last time animation ruled the box office for such a long stretch was three years ago, when Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 were #1 for two weeks each.

Box-office observers are now wondering whether The Secret Life of Pets — coming off the biggest opening of any animated non-sequel ever — can beat the Ghostbusters reboot this coming weekend. If it does, it would probably mark the first time in history that animated movies ruled the box office for five consecutive weeks.

And then — who knows? — there’s always the possibility that Ice Age: Collision Course could beat Star Trek Beyond two weeks from now. I don’t think it’s very likely — the Ice Age franchise is incredibly huge overseas but has tended to perform more modestly in North America for the most part — but you never know.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What is indisputable is that animated films have been #1 for ten weeks already this year, which is just one notch behind the record eleven weeks that animated films ruled in 2010 — and the year is only half over!

Here, as near as I can make it, are the films that were #1 at the box office in each year going back to 1982, according to Box Office Mojo. As you can see, there were only one or two animated films that reached #1 in the 1980s, and only one to three reached #1 in a typical year in the 1990s, but over the past decade the animation format has blossomed — and it isn’t just one or two studios dominating the field, either.

Note: This list does not include films like Hop, Ted, Stuart Little and others that had photorealistic animated protagonists in a live-action environment, nor does it include Enchanted, which is basically a live-action movie with an animated prologue; but it does include films like Space Jam and The SpongeBob Movie, which put established animated characters in a live-action context for at least a portion of the story.

  • 2016 — 10 weeks (so far)

    Kung Fu Panda 3 (DreamWorks) — 2
    Zootopia (Disney) — 3
    The Angry Birds Movie (Sony Imageworks) — 1
    Finding Dory (Pixar) — 3
    The Secret Life of Pets (Illumination) — 1 (so far)

  • 2015 — 5 weeks

    The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (Nickelodeon) — 1
    Home (DreamWorks) — 1
    Inside Out (Pixar) — 1
    Minions (Illumination) — 1
    Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sony Animation) — 1

  • 2014 — 6 weeks

    Frozen (Disney) — 1
    The Lego Movie (Warner) — 3
    Mr Peabody & Sherman (DreamWorks) — 1
    Big Hero 6 (Disney) — 1

  • 2013 — 7 weeks

    The Croods (DreamWorks) — 1
    Monsters University (Pixar) — 2
    Despicable Me 2 (Illumination) — 2
    Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony Animation) — 1
    Frozen (Disney) — 1

  • 2012 — 8 weeks

    Dr Seuss’ The Lorax (Illumination) — 2
    Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (DreamWorks) — 2
    Brave (Pixar) — 1
    Ice Age: Continental Drift (Fox/Blue Sky) — 1
    Hotel Transylvania (Sony Animation) — 1
    Wreck-It Ralph (Disney) — 1

  • 2011 — 8 weeks

    Rango (ILM/Nickelodeon) — 1
    Rio (Fox/Blue Sky) — 2
    Cars 2 (Pixar) — 1
    The Lion King: 3D re-release (Disney) — 2
    Puss in Boots (DreamWorks) — 2

  • 2010 — 11 weeks

    How to Train Your Dragon (DreamWorks) — 2
    Shrek Forever After (DreamWorks) — 3
    Toy Story 3 (Pixar) — 2
    Despicable Me (Illumination) — 1
    Megamind (DreamWorks) — 2
    Tangled (Disney) — 1

  • 2009 — 6 weeks

    Monsters Vs Aliens (DreamWorks) — 1
    Up (Pixar) — 1
    Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony Animation) — 2
    A Christmas Carol (Disney) — 1
    The Princess and the Frog (Disney) — 1

  • 2008 — 5 weeks

    Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! (Fox/Blue Sky) — 2
    Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks) — 1
    WALL-E (Pixar) — 1
    Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (DreamWorks) — 1

  • 2007 — 6 weeks

    TMNT (Imagi) — 1
    Shrek the Third (DreamWorks) — 1
    Ratatouille (Pixar) — 1
    The Simpsons Movie (Fox) — 1
    Bee Movie (DreamWorks) — 1
    Beowulf (Imagemovers) — 1

  • 2006 — 8 weeks

    Ice Age: The Meltdown (Fox/Blue Sky) — 2
    Cars (Pixar) — 2
    Open Season (Sony Animation) — 1
    Happy Feet (Animal Logic) — 3

  • 2005 — 5 weeks

    Robots (Fox/Blue Sky) — 1
    Madagascar (DreamWorks) — 1
    Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Aardman/DreamWorks) — 1
    Chicken Little (Disney) — 2

  • 2004 — 7 weeks

    Shrek 2 (DreamWorks) — 2
    Shark Tale (DreamWorks) — 3
    The Incredibles (Pixar) — 2

  • 2003 — 2 weeks

    Finding Nemo (Pixar) — 2

  • 2002 — 1 week

    Ice Age (Fox/Blue Sky) — 1

  • 2001 — 3 weeks

    Shrek (DreamWorks) — 1
    Monsters, Inc. (Pixar) — 2

  • 2000 — 1 week

    Dinosaur (Disney) — 1

  • 1999 — 5 weeks

    Tarzan (Disney) — 1
    Pokemon: The First Movie (Toho) — 1
    Toy Story 2 (Pixar) — 3

  • 1998 — 5 weeks

    Antz (DreamWorks) — 2
    The Rugrats Movie (Nickelodeon) — 1
    A Bug’s Life (Pixar) — 2

  • 1997 — 0 weeks
  • 1996 — 2 weeks

    Space Jam (Warner) — 1
    Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (MTV) — 1

  • 1995 — 5 weeks

    Pocahontas (Disney) — 1
    Toy Story (Pixar) — 4

  • 1994 — 2 weeks

    The Lion King (Disney) — 2

  • 1993 — 6 weeks

    Aladdin (Disney) — 4
    Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Skellington/Touchstone) — 2

  • 1989-1992 — 0 weeks
  • 1988 — 3 weeks

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Amblin/Touchstone) — 2 weeks
    The Land Before Time (Bluth/Amblin/Universal) — 1 week

  • 1982-1987 — 0 weeks
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