All 5 Pixar Movies That Made $1 Billion At The Box Office

Summary

  • Pixar’s five highest-grossing movies are all sequels to previous hits.
  • Finding Dory
    benefited from its lead star’s decade-long campaign for the movie to happen.
  • Toy Story 4
    maintained the franchise’s acclaim and profitability despite being a surprise sequel.

During the decades it has spent as one of the most successful animation studios in Hollywood, Pixar has had several movies cross the billion-dollar mark at the box office. Pixar was once the brilliant and lucky underdog team that pulled off the first 3D-animated feature-length movie with the release of Toy Story in 1995, an event that would transform the animation industry. Since then, Pixar has produced many more smash-hit family movies based on fun conceptualizations and profoundly real stories, which often move people to tears.

Pixar regularly receives glowing reviews and Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature; with this has come considerable profits. Some clear trends determine which Pixar movies gross $1 billion: Even though the first 10 years or so is the decided Golden Age for the studio, none of these movies made that much, showing how inflation certainly plays a role. Additionally, all the Pixar movies that grossed $1 billion are sequels, demonstrating how the hype surrounding the follow-up to a beloved movie is a built-in advertising strategy.

Movie

Rotten Tomatoes score

Metacritic score

Domestic gross

Worldwide total

Toy Story 3

98%

92%

$415,004,880

$1,067,316,101

Finding Dory

94%

77%

$486,295,561

$1,029,266,989

Incredibles 2

93%

80%

$608,581,744

$1,243,225,667

Toy Story 4

97%

84%

$434,038,008

$1,073,841,394

Inside Out 2 (As of July 2024)

90%

73%

$469,426,251

$1,019,043,017

All box office information included in this list is according to
boxofficemojo.com
.

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5 Toy Story 3 (2010)

Domestic Gross: $415 Million | Worldwide Total: $1.07 Billion

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Toy Story 3 G Where to Watch

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The third installment in the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story 3, continues the story of Woody and Buzz as they come to terms with the inevitable. With their owner, Andy, growing older and no longer playing with his toys, Woody, Buzz, and co. are given a new lease on life when they end up in a local daycare center. However, things there aren’t as they seem, and the toys must work together to find their way home.

Director Lee Unkrich Release Date June 18, 2010 Writers Michael Arndt Cast Jodi Benson , Ned Beatty , Tim Allen , Tom Hanks , Joan Cusack Runtime 103 minutes

The first Pixar movie to gross $1 billion was the (then expected to be) finale of its flagship franchise. A complete trilogy is a tidy way to wrap things up. Additionally, when the advertising confirmed that the story would revolve around what happens when Andy is grown up, it seemed like a natural conclusion to the tales of their life in Andy’s room. The ephemeral nature of childhood is the core of the Toy Story franchise, and the toys had previously hinted that Andy growing out of them was a fear lingering in the back of their minds.

Toy Story 3 maintained the franchise’s critical acclaim and went above and beyond with its nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars.

Everything was headed towards an emotional and satisfying ending. However, even the extremely minimal teaser trailers that revealed nothing about the plot fueled the hype of Toy Story 3. Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are still among the best Pixar movies, and the sequel promised to be just as good. While the first two installments came out within a few years of each other, there was a decade-long wait for Toy Story 3. The only way to derail its surefire success was for it to be astoundingly bad — which isn’t characteristic of Pixar, let alone Toy Story specifically.

Toy Story 3 maintained the franchise’s critical acclaim and went above and beyond with its nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars. It was extremely marketable when families would go see it together and adults would go see it out of nostalgia or curiosity as to how it would all end. Summer blockbuster season combined with some additional profits from theaters that chose to screen Toy Story 3 again for awards season was very lucrative for Pixar, making this the seemingly perfect way to end Woody and the rest’s story.

4 Finding Dory (2016)

Domestic Gross: $486.3 Million | Worldwide Total: $1.03 Billion

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Finding Dory PG Where to Watch

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The sequel to Pixar’s Finding Nemo, Finding Dory focuses on the character of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) as she sets off to locate her parents. Still living with amnesia after the events of Finding Nemo, Dory is unable to remember her parents, but an unexpected flashback prompts her to find them. Her journey takes her not only across the ocean but also out of it, enlisting all manner of marine life to help her in her quest. 

Director Angus MacLane , Andrew Stanton Release Date June 17, 2016 Writers Andrew Stanton , Victoria Strouse Cast Ellen DeGeneres , Idris Elba , Michael Sheen , Eugene Levy , Ty Burrell , Kaitlin Olson , Albert Brooks , Diane Keaton , Ed O’Neill , Dominic West , Hayden Rolence Runtime 97 Minutes

Finding Dory is not as good as most of the other $1 billion Pixar movies and an average sequel overall, probably seeing the worst reception of Pixar’s five highest-grossing movies. The movie is undermined by a strange clash, with Dory being a beloved character who deserves to have a fully developed backstory vs. her working better as the mascot-like sidekick to Marlin’s journey in Finding Nemo. People may never have wondered much about Dory’s past despite her being set up to naturally invite questions, especially when a sad comment in Finding Nemo hints that she has forgotten her family.

Finding Dory is a strange mix of heartfelt moments with Dory’s parents — and her bringing her birth family and chosen family together — that land well up against the awkwardly-planned adventure through the aquarium. Sadly, the jokes just aren’t as funny as all of Dory’s iconic lines in the first installment. Despite this, the movie got generally good reviews and hit the billion-dollar mark, the first time for Pixar since Toy Story 3 five years earlier. Finding Dory’s financial success is at least partially due to the hype coming from being a very long-awaited sequel to one of Pixar’s best classic movies.

However, Finding Dory also owes something to the included marketing giant of Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres had essentially been campaigning for a Finding Nemo sequel for a decade on her show and officially announced the sequel herself. The montages of every time she mentioned the possibility of a Finding Nemo sequel combined with the sequel focusing on her character made for sneaky and very effective advertisement. A large part of the draw of Finding Dory was that DeGeneres was returning, which served the movie well.

3 Incredibles 2 (2018)

Domestic Gross: $608.6 Million | Worldwide Total: $1.24 Billion

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The Incredibles 2 PG

The sequel to Pixar’s The Incredibles, Incredibles 2 follows the Parr family as they continue to fight crime as Supers. In a world that has only recently rediscovered its need for superpowered heroes, building trust is key. However, when Elastigirl uncovers a villainous plot to discredit the Super community, the family investigates, putting the Parrs in more danger than ever before. 

Director Brad Bird Release Date June 15, 2018 Writers Brad Bird Cast Sarah Vowell , Samuel L. Jackson , Holly Hunter , Craig T. Nelson , John Ratzenberger , Catherine Keener , Huck Milner , Bob Odenkirk Runtime 126 Minutes

Incredibles 2 also benefited from being a sequel to a near-perfect Pixar movie that had been left untouched for more than a decade, to the point where most never would have thought it was getting a sequel. It also didn’t quite live up to the original, although in this case, more people were probably expecting it. The Incredibles has an inherently flashy, marketable, and fun concept that promises what happens on-screen will at least be entertaining. Incredibles 2 also advertised the greater focus on Holly Hunter’s Helen Parr/Elastigirl to demonstrate that the story would be fresh.

Incredibles 2’s story about the family dynamic isn’t as impactful, while the first movie showcases a heartrending narrative about the discontent that strained the main characters’ marriage. In comparison, the emotional subplot of Incredibles 2 is wrapped up as quickly as the action-oriented main plot, with the characters all finding personal fulfillment without nearly as much painful drama happening first. The sequel’s villain, the none-too-subtly named Evelyn Deavor, cannot compare to the charisma of Syndrome. This was admittedly always futile when Syndrome is Pixar’s best villain.

However, the event of Incredibles 2’s release and it still being a good movie carried it to the top of the box office. The convenient Father’s Day release made Incredibles 2 the perfect family outing, while adult fans came out in droves to see the return of some of the best characters from their childhood. The fantastic supporting cast returned as well as the main cast, including Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone and director Brad Bird as Edna Mode. The whole thing was too much pure enjoyment to not make $1 billion.

2 Toy Story 4 (2019)

Domestic Gross: $434 Million | Worldwide Total: $1.07 Billion

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Josh Cooley directed the fourth installment in the Toy Story series and the direct sequel to 2010’s Toy Story 3. Once again starring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Annie Potts, 2019’s Toy Story 4 sees Woody struggling to adapt to his new life as one of Bonnie’s toys, as Andy heads off to college.

Director Josh Cooley Release Date June 21, 2019 Writers Stephany Folsom , Andrew Stanton Cast Patricia Arquette , Tim Allen , Kristen Schaal , Estelle Harris , Jodi Benson , Tony Hale , Blake Clark , Jeff Pidgeon , Joan Cusack , Laurie Metcalf , Tom Hanks , Annie Potts , Jeff Garlin , Bonnie Hunt , Wallace Shawn Runtime 100 Minutes

There was another long wait between Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4, but the second time did not seem so strange when it had happened before. On the other hand, while Toy Story 3 seemed like the natural end to the franchise, the fact that Toy Story 4 was happening at all raised eyebrows and piqued fans’ interest. The announcement of Toy Story 5 has had the same effect. However, it was not as though there had ever been a bad Toy Story movie, and most longtime fans were sure to turn up for the new installment just to see what happens.

In addition to this, Toy Story 4 marketed its new talent well, with several big names joining the established cast of A-listers who had always voiced the franchise’s anthropomorphic toys. This included Keanu Reeves as a biker action figure, utilizing the new wave of fame he was riding thanks to the John Wick franchise. They also struck gold when they secured the famed comedic team of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele to voice the on-screen stuffed animal duo Ducky and Bunny. These two constitute some of the movie’s funniest moments and will hopefully return.

Toy Story 4 has a feeling of deep nostalgia, showcasing how far the animation and character designs have come since the beginning, with a larger retinue of toy characters than ever. The glowing lights of the carnival setting, the emotional goodbyes, and the toys themselves looking back on everything they have been through inherently attracted people who are primarily invested in Toy Story because of the childhood memories it invokes. Toy Story 4’s box office success was both a complete surprise and extremely predictable, begging the question of how infallible the franchise truly is.

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1 Inside Out 2 (2024)

Domestic Gross: $469.4 Million | Worldwide Total: $1.02 Billion (As Of July 2024)

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Inside Out 2 PG

Inside Out 2 is the sequel to the 2015 original film, which starred a young girl named Riley with a head full of emotions. – literally. With Amy Pohler as Joy, Bill Hader as fear, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, and Lewis Black as Anger, the all-star cast brought to life the emotions that adolescents face as they grow, change, and adapt to new situations. This sequel, currently in development, will bring Amy Pohler back as Joy, with Riley, now a teenager.

Director Kelsey Mann Release Date June 14, 2024 Writers Meg LeFauve Cast Amy Poehler , Tony Hale , Maya Hawke , Liza Lapira , Lewis Black , Phyllis Smith , Diane Lane Runtime 96 Minutes

Inside Out was a stranger addition to Pixar’s repertoire, not that this hindered it in the least. The first movie was plenty successful, winning Best Animated Feature that year. The premise demands that the audience accept that it doesn’t make complete sense for the sake of enjoying the quirky characters and settings and the overall themes coming across. Inside Out primarily revolves around the message that it is necessary for humans to feel sadness as much as any other emotion.

Inside Out 2 is succeeding for a similar reason: Despite the even shakier literal plot, the surreal characters are an effective tool to convey relatable emotional experiences. The cast is still solid, with Maya Hawke as Anxiety, the new emotion that Amy Poehler’s Joy has to come to terms with for Riley’s sake. Inside Out 2’s success is still a huge and reassuring surprise in the wake of Furiousa: A Mad Max Saga’s box office bomb. It has been speculated that Furiosa failed due to an increased preference for watching movies at home, something Pixar also must contend with.

It is very likely that more Pixar sequels will happen eventually.

Inside Out 2 also has the advantage of a more widespread appeal, as most people are not going to take small children to see Furiosa. It is proving to be another milestone success for Pixar that will likely receive plenty of attention when awards season comes around. Like Pixar’s other billion-dollar movies, it also reaps the rewards of being a sequel, letting box offices know to prepare for Toy Story 5 and other movies like it. It is very likely that more Pixar sequels will happen eventually.

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