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The Top-Grossing Films for the 10 Biggest Box Office Brands

The Top-Grossing Films for the 10 Biggest Box Office
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What are the highest-grossing movies in Hollywood’s biggest box office brands? Disney/Pixar

Franchises are well-covered territory in Hollywood, particularly when it comes to their box office successes and failures. But blockbuster brands are a bit more nebulous. For example, Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe is a franchise, but Marvel Comics movies—which also encompasses the various Fox and Sony comic book films that don’t belong to the MCU continuity—are a brand. The same goes for something like Pixar, which is teeming with smaller film series and originals within its corporate structure.

Brand power is important in Hollywood because it conveys a sense of familiarity and established quality to potential audiences. So here we are to better familiarize ourselves with the 10 highest-grossing blockbuster Hollywood brands and their single biggest financial hits.

(Note: all numbers are for the domestic box office only and are courtesy of Box Office Mojo).

10. Illumination Entertainment

Number of Releases: 12
Total Domestic Gross: $2.61B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: The Secret Life of Pets ($368M)

Illumination is one of the animation studios perched under Universal and a key cog in the company’s ability to compete directly with Disney without the aide of superheroes. In addition to The Secret Life of Pets series, Illumination is also home to the ultra-lucrative Despicable Me franchise and its inexplicably profitable Minions spinoffs. Looking ahead, the studio will releases Sing 2 (Dec. 22, 2021), Minions: The Rise of Gru (Jul. 1, 2022), and Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (2024).

9. Walt Disney Animation

Number of Releases: 13
Total Domestic Gross: $2.62B

Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: Frozen II ($477M)

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Walt Disney Animation is Disney’s homegrown animation studio, not to be confused with Pixar, which Disney acquired for $7.4 billion in 2006. The studio recently released the original Raya and the Last Dragon on Disney+ Premier Access which was, for our money, the banner’s best film since Moana. It’s also home to the Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph franchises as well as excellent one-offs such as Zootopia and Big Hero 6.

8. Vertigo Entertainment

Number of Releases: 40
Total Domestic Gross: $3.05B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: It ($327M)

Vertigo Entertainment is an American film and television production company that teams with larger studios for distribution. For example, the company signed a production deal with Lionsgate last year and has worked with Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, STX Films, DreamWorks and others on distribution over the years. Vertigo made a name for itself in the early 2000s with horror hits such as The Ring and The Grudge. It has since added more four-quadrant fare such as The Lego Movie franchise. Vertigo is proof that being a big fish in a small pond can be highly effective at times.

7. Bad Robot

Number of Releases: 15
Total Domestic Gross: $3.07B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936M)

Here’s where things begin to get a little wonky. Filmmaker J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot and Disney’s Lucasfilm are both production companies that worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is why the film counts for both brands. Confusing, I know, but it’s not as if Bad Robot doesn’t have a handful of other successes under its belt. The production company is also behind the rebooted Star Trek franchise, the ongoing Cloverfield series, and all of the Mission: Impossible films since 2006. Abrams and Bad Robot are now housed exclusively at WarnerMedia under a massive $500 million overall deal.

6. DreamWorks Animation

Number of Releases: 39
Total Domestic Gross: $5.71B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: Shrek II ($441M)

In 2016, NBCUniversal acquired DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, giving the studio two animation powerhouses under its purview. Across the ShrekPuss in BootsKung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar and Croods franchises, DreamWorks Animation has proven to be a viable competitor to the Pixars of the world. Looking ahead, Sean Sexton, head of character animation at DreamWorks, told Observer he’s most excited for The Bad Guys (April 15, 2022), which he compared to Ocean’s 11 as a “heist film” and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as a “stylized” and “cutting-edge” visual treat.

5. DC Comics

Number of Releases: 45
Total Domestic Gross: $5.75B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: The Dark Knight ($533M)

Remember, DC Comics includes all DC theatrical films ever made and not just the DC Extended Universe that began with 2013’s Man of Steel. Without DC Comics, Hollywood may have never embraced the superhero genre as a viable blockbuster lane. Christopher Reeve’s Superman films of the 1970s helped to legitimize the material as wondrous, mythic tales of heroism. Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989 revolutionized comic book adaptations. Today, superhero source material is the lifeblood of mainstream Hollywood and DC has ambitious plans on the horizon.

4. Pixar

Number of Releases: 29
Total Domestic Gross: $6.10B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: Incredibles 2 ($608M)

Pixar has proven to be quite the profitable acquisition for Disney. Under the Magic Kingdom, Pixar has further franchised its biggest successes across the big and small screens while growing more ambitious and visually daring with its originals. Without the continuous success of its sequels over the last decade, we may have never been gifted with the bold and shockingly mature Inside OutCoco, or Soul. Looking ahead, Pixar will send new original Luca (June 18, 2021) exclusively to Disney+ and Toy Story prequel spinoff Lightyear (June 17, 2022) starring Chris Evans to the big screen.

3. Lucasfilm

Number of Releases: 39
Total Domestic Gross: $6.32B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936M)

Lucasfilm is obviously best known for Star Wars and for good reason. Across 10 theatrical films thus far, Star Wars is easily the most beloved American film franchise of all time. But Lucasfilm is more than just a galaxy far, far away. The production company is also responsible for the Indiana Jones franchise as well as WillowRed Tail, and Labyrinth. Many of these beloved projects will be expanded upon via Disney+ in the coming years.

2. Legendary Pictures

Number of Releases: 55
Total Domestic Gross: $6.91B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: Jurassic World ($652M)

Legendary was founded just 21 years ago and yet has already become a dominant force in the movie marketplace. Similar to Vertigo, Legendary is a production company that often teams with larger studios on distribution. On the big screen, the company has helped shape Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy as well as many of his originals, The Hangover franchise, most of Zack Snyder’s work, the Jurassic World revival franchise, as well as the MonsterVerse populated by Godzilla and King Kong. Clearly, the production company has a knack for big budget blockbuster entertainment. Now if only it could get a Pokémon cinematic universe up-and-running.

1. Marvel Comics

Number of Releases: 64
Total Domestic Gross: $14.24B
Highest-Grossing Domestic Film: Avengers: Endgame ($858M)

Marvel Comics includes every Marvel-based movie ever made and not just the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which launched in 2008. That means Fox’s X-Men films and Sony’s Spider-Man movies all count to the brand’s totals. Of course, the unprecedented success of the MCU is the primary foundation of the brand’s dominance. Now that much of Marvel’s main properties have been consolidated under Disney, the MCU is an even bigger driver of the Marvel brand than ever before. On the horizon, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has ambitious expansion plans for the big screen while Sony is busy setting up its own universe populated by Marvel characters such as Tom Hardy’s Venom and Jared Leto’s Morbius.

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