Why 2024 is the year of the animated movie

Chris Tilly
The heroes of Inside Out 2 look terrified.

After a decade of superhero dominance, animated movies are making their mark at this year’s global box office, and currently grossing more than their live-action counterparts. 

When it comes to making money, Marvel, sci-fi, and action flicks have been the dominant forces in film. The top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time feature three Avengers films and two Avatars. 

Star Wars and Spider-Man are also represented, as are the dinosaurs of Jurassic World. Indeed, the only fully animated movie is 2019’s computer-generated retread of The Lion King.

But a look at 2024’s Top 10 movies suggests animation is killing it in 2024. Four of the top eight entries are cartoons, led by the year’s box office behemoth Inside Out 2.

The Pixar sequel received positive reviews pretty much across the board, and with $1.2 billion grossed thus far, the film is well on its way to becoming the most successful animated movie of all time. 

Kung Fu Panda 4 currently sits in fourth position with a worldwide total of $544 million. That trails the first movie ($632 million) and Kung Fu Panda 2 ($665 million), but Part 4 cost significantly less to make, meaning it’s actually more profitable.

Despicable Me 4 debuted over the July 4 holiday, and raked in a whopping $240 million during its opening weekend. With the main Despicable movies and their Minions spinoffs forming the most successful animated franchise in film history, expect this one to trouble the top of that 2024 chart very soon.

While The Garfield Movie rounds out this period of box office dominance, with the reboot sitting at eighth on the list with a $218 million haul. A number that’s more than four times the movie’s budget, and one that continues to rise some some six weeks after the film’s release.

The success of these animated hits has doubtless been helped by multiple non-animated bombs in 2024. Furiosa, The Fall Guy, and Madame Web were high-profile summer failures while the cartoons were raking it in. With Dune 2 the only true live-action juggernaut thus far this year.

A dearth of films aimed at children has also helped. Wonka dominated over the Christmas period, and well into 2024, because it was the only quality family film around. Parents were desperate for kid-friendly fare, and these four animated titles satisfied that need to the tune of more than $2 billion and counting.

Another factor is supply and demand. Many franchises pump out sequels every two to three years, crafting supply for eager audiences, and keeping them front-and-center in moviegoers’ minds.

But those quick turnaround times don’t create demand. This year, however, there’s distance between the animated sequels, with the last Despicable Me seven years ago, the past Panda eight years previous, and the first Inside Out fully nine years ago. Creating huge demand in young audiences worldwide.

Will Inside Out 2 retain its box office crown for the rest of 2024? Deadpool & Wolverine is the most likely live-action contender, with much riding on the success of the new Marvel movie when it releases later this month.

But Pixar’s real rival might be another Disney movie, with Moana 2 arriving in November. Being the belated sequel (eight-year gap) to a movie that’s as beloved as it was lucrative ($687 million gross from a $150 million budget), don’t be surprised to see two animated movies topping the box office chart come the year’s end.

Head here for new movies to watch this month, or click here for our list of the best movies released in 2024 so far.

Sign up to Dexerto for free and receive:
Fewer Ads|Dark Mode|Deals in Gaming, TV and Movies, and Tech