An in-depth analysis of the 10 highest grossing animated feature films in 2023 (so far)

As 2023 draws to a close, we have taken a close-up look at the top 10 highest-grossing animated films worldwide this year in order to review the state of animated feature film theatrical distribution over the past 10.5 months.

This list will look different after all 2023 films have completed their theatrical runs. Titles like Disney's "Wishes" and Illumination's "Migration" have yet to hit theaters, while DreamWorks' "Trolls Band Together" opens in the US today. Each has the potential to shake up the top 10.

Nevertheless, all of the films on the list deserve recognition for what they have accomplished this year. Some of the works on this list are surprises, while others were always considered certainties.

It should be noted that, as it stands, five films came from outside the US studio system, three from China, and two from Japan.

As of November 17, 2023, the highest grossing animated films in 2023 are as follows.

Worldwide total: $1.36 billion

U.S. distribution: Universal Pictures

In January we predicted that "Mario" would surpass the $1.16 billion lifetime gross of the first "Minions" film and become the highest grossing film in Illumination history. That prediction, which seemed bold at the time, looks old hat in hindsight. Mario ended up earning $1.36 billion in its theatrical run, making it the #1 animated film and the #2 film of all time, behind only Barbie.

The Super Mario Brothers Movie, directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenick, became the highest-grossing video game adaptation ever. Given the film's phenomenal commercial success, more animated films based on video games are likely to follow.

Worldwide box office: $690.5 million

U.S. distribution: Sony Pictures Entertainment

After a phenomenal opening weekend (domestic) of $120.6 million, this Spidey sequel ended its theatrical run with $690.5 million and became the first animated film based on a video game to gross $690.5 million in the " Into the Spider-Verse" surpassing its $384.3 million worldwide final gross.

Across the Spider-Verse, directed by Joaquin dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, needed to surpass its predecessor's box office to be considered a step forward for the franchise. Into the Spider-Verse won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, setting a creative benchmark for future franchise films to match. Across the Spider-Verse, by almost all accounts, accomplished that feat and deserved its place at the top of the box office rankings. The film will be heavily in the awards conversation this year. 25]

Worldwide total: $495.7 million

Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

[28 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Who would have thought that "Elemental" would be the comeback story of the year with a $495.7 million ($495.7 million domestic) box office haul after the worst weekend in Pixar history with $29.6 million (domestic) -

" Elemental" debuted at the Cannes Film Festival to mixed reviews from critics. However, the gap between critics and audiences proved to be wide, and strong word of mouth propelled "Elemental" into the limelight for the best part of the year. According to Disney, it took only five days for "Elemental" to become the most-viewed film on Disney+ this year and to make the top 10 most-viewed streamed films. The film, directed by Korean-American Peter Son, was the second highest grossing film of the year in South Korea and the highest grossing film in the United States.

Worldwide box office: $241.3 million

U.S. distribution: n/a

Chinese studio Light Chaser Animation, producers of the popular "New Gods" series, has released a new film based on an existing story from Chinese mythology and history, New Chang'an," directed by Zou Jin, as the first in a series of cultural films. If the rest of the series resonates with audiences as well as the first film, they are on to something big.

"Chang'an" was a hit from the outset, grossing an impressive $3.2M in previews a week before its July 8 release in China. It ended its first weekend with $47.9M and theatrical grosses of $241.3M.

Worldwide total: $202.2M

U.S. distributors: N/A

China's most consistently successful animated franchise, "The Boony Bears," will be back in 2023 with its ninth theatrical feature film, directed by Lin Yongchang and Xiao Heqiang, " reached new commercial heights with Guardian Code. The film opened on January 22 and grossed $56 million on its opening weekend, ultimately bringing in $202.2 million during its run. The total gross for the nine films in the franchise was $887.6 million.

The Boonie Bears films are spinoffs from China's most popular children's series; since its debut in 2012, 11 seasons of the show have been produced by Fantawild Animation, which also produced the Boonie Bears films.

It has grossed $188.9 million worldwide and counting.

Distributor Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies' "PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie" grossed $22.8 million in its first weekend at the box office and ranked #1 in the United States. It grossed $188.9M worldwide; the first PAW Patrol film in 2021 grossed $144.3M.

In Cal Blanker's Mighty Movie, the popular PAW Patrol puppies are given superpowers and transformed into the super-powered Mighty Pups The commercial impact of Mighty Movie will be far greater than box-office revenue. By introducing a superhero story, the film will create all kinds of additional revenue opportunities for the franchise.

Worldwide total: $180.5 million

U.S. distribution: Paramount Pictures

The $180.5 million worldwide final gross for "Mutant Mayhem" is particularly impressive. The film got off to a strong start at the domestic box office with $28 million, followed by a phenomenal five-week run.

This and the success of "The Mighty Movie" were long-awaited triumphs for Paramount Animation, which had been long out of animation hits. Director Jeff Lowe and his team breathed new life into the franchise, both aesthetically and narratively, and it did not go unnoticed by critics and audiences alike.

Total worldwide box office: $136 million and counting.

U.S. distribution: Viva Pictures

"Deep Sea" is the third Chinese film on this year's list and one of the most artistically ambitious in the top ten. According to U.S. distributors, the CG-animated film had a massive budget of $80 million, making it one of the most expensive animated films produced outside the U.S. studio system. So far, "Deep Sea" has grossed $136 million at the box office, a figure that will likely increase a bit more with upcoming theatrical releases in several territories, including the U.S.

In addition to its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February, Tribeca, Annecy, Fantasia, Sitges, and several other prestigious international film festivals. Directed by Tian Xiaopeng (Monkey King: Hero Is Back), the Chinese-language film tells the story of Shen Xu, a young girl who is unexpectedly swept out to sea during a family vacation and happens upon a mysterious restaurant beneath the waves.

Worldwide total: $106.5 million

U.S. distribution: N/A

The highest grossing Japanese anime film of the year so far is "Detective Conan: Submarine". Directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa, the film is the 26th in the "Case Closed" series of films based on Gosho Aoyama's manga of the same name.

"Black Iron Submarine" was released in Japan on April 14 in 504 theaters. Less than a month later, on May 7, the film surpassed the 10 billion yen mark ($66.4M), surpassing "The Halloween Bride" to become the highest grossing film in franchise history. Its final theatrical gross was $106.5M.

Total worldwide box office: $77.9M and counting.

U.S. Distribution: GKIDS

Hayao Miyazaki's latest film has yet to open in some of the world's largest box office markets, including the U.S., but it is already in the top 10 in this year's rankings.

While "The Boy and the Hare" was undoubtedly a commercial success, it performed surprisingly poorly in Japan compared to Miyazaki's other films; according to, it grossed 8.5 billion yen ($56.4M) in its home country, making it the 6th highest-grossing Studio Ghibli film of all time.