Since their famous merger in 2006, Disney and Pixar have been a force to be reckoned with in the animated film industry. They dominate the box office, and have created a lot of fantastic characters, stories, and franchises together. Pixar provides the talent, and Disney has the massive influence and funds to make their visions a reality. The animated films released by the powerful duo are almost always smash hits. They control some of the biggest franchises in animation today – the Nemo series, Cars, and Toy Story come to mind. They also produce a lot of one-offs that have cemented themselves as some of the best animated films of all time. Of course, creating these masterpieces requires a significant amount of funds. All but one of the top ten most expensive animated films of all time are from Disney, in fact. If you want to learn more about some of the priciest animations ever created, read on as we go over the Top Ten Most Expensive Animated Disney Movies Ever Made.
Up – Budget: $175 million
One of the best animations released within the past decade has been Up. This is a classic escapist tale, telling the story of an old widower who one day decides to just fly away by attaching his house to hundreds of balloons. Alongside a young boy named Russell, a friendly dog called Doug, and a bird called Kevin, Carl Fredricksen fulfills the dream he and his late wife always had. It is a beautiful tale, with gorgeous and fluid animation – and the budget reflects it.
Coco – Budget: $175 million
This film, originally released in 2017 at the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico (before being released worldwide), is one of the best animated tributes to Mexican culture. Coco’s story of a young boy who finds himself in the world of the dead has been praised for its excellent animation, great music, and perfect vocal performances. All of this perfection has to come with a price, however. It was certainly worth it.
Cars 3 – Budget: $175 million
The third installment in the Cars series follows the red racecar Lightning McQueen as he faces down some of the newest high-tech supercars in an effort to prove that he is still the top racer in the world. The film received a lot of positive reviews, and the animation and story were frequently praised. One interesting thing about this film is that twelve actual NASCAR personalities were featured as voice actors. And let’s face it – stuff like that isn’t free.
Wall-E – Budget: $180 million
Wall-E is a poignant tale. It deals with some deep themes, and is a clearly criticizes corporatism, consumerism, and the impact of humans on the environment. The film was first given the go-ahead because director Andrew Stanton believed that Pixar’s portrayal of underwater physics was believable in Finding Nemo. They were able to handle space just as well, especially with such a relatively unconstrained budget.
Brave – Budget: $185 million
This 2012 animated film focuses on a boundary-breaking princess called Merida. It originally debuted at the Seattle International Film Festival, and quickly became a nationwide hit. The movie was universally appreciated for its portrayal of a strong female character who refused to adhere to the norms of a strongly patriarchal society. It had amazing animation, convincing voice acting, and was overall one of the best films of 2012. It also had a really high budget – but it ended up grossing over $500 million worldwide, so it paid off.
Finding Dory – Budget: $200 million
Finding Dory is the 2016 sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo. The amnesiac fish Dory is the central character in this film, but she soon becomes lost due to her poor short-term memory. She decides to search for her parents, leading her all the way across the ocean. The film was well-received critically, and is one of the best Pixar movies ever made. It is also one of the most expensive – which is more than offset by the $1 billion gross profit worldwide.
Monsters University – Budget: $200 million
In 2013, Monsters, Inc. fans finally got a prequel added to their favorite series. This movie focused on the college times of James P. Sullivan, Mike Wazowski, and other fan favorites. It was pretty popular, and many fans and critics gave it glowing reviews. The film was well-animated and entertaining – and expensive to make. However, it also grossed over $700 million.
Cars 2 – Budget: $200 million
Surprisingly, Cars 2 carried an even higher budget than the film that followed it. This entry in the franchise made Mater the tow truck the central character. The fan-favorite gets involved in international espionage, as he and Lightning McQueen visit Europe and Japan while McQueen races in the World Grand Prix. This movie only received mixed reviews, but still managed to gross double what was spent on the film.
Toy Story 3 – Budget: $200 million
Toy Story fans had to wait eleven long years for the third installment in the series. However, their wait was worth it. Toy Story 3 saw the return of our favorite toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear as they prepare to deal with Andy going to college. The film was released in 2010, and was incredibly popular among the public and critics. It even managed to receive four Academy Award nominations, and was the highest-grossing film of 2010. It’s situations like these that make high budgets worth it.
Tangled – Budget: $260 million
The top film on our list is also the only one not produced by Pixar. Tangled, the modernized tale of Rapunzel, was created by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and was even nominated for an Academy Award. It inspired a short film called Tangled Ever After, and also inspired a TV series that premiered in 2017. Tangled was shot on the highest budget of any animated film ever, and marks the end of our list.