The 10 most expensive traditional animated films of all time


In recent years, animation has become a powerhouse at the global box office, thanks in large part to the phenomenal storytelling and stunning visuals from Walt Disney Studios, Pixar and DreamWorks. However, animation is different today than it was ten years ago, as studios move away from traditional animated films and look more towards computer animation films.

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Unlike CGI animation, traditional animation is completely hand drawn with meticulous image. Traditional animation was the dominant style for decades, but the craft faded despite being cheaper than CGI animation. Yet some traditional animated films have been created with huge budgets which sometimes have not always paid off.


ten Titan AE (2000) – $ 75 million

Characters from Titan AE (2000) driving a spaceship

Titan AE marked the third and final struggling Fox Animation Studios film when it was released in 2000. The film follows a human adolescent, who lives on Earth among an alien race. After finding a map left behind by his father, Cale sets out on an epic journey to figure out what it all means.

Quite interesting, Titan AE was originally created to be a live-action film, but was made into an animated film after nearly $ 30 million was spent by the live-action team without any progress. In the end, $ 75 million was spent on animation, but that only seemed to make half of it worldwide.

9 Hercules (1997) – $ 85 million

The end scene of Hercules and Meg in Olympia

In 1997, Walt Disney Studios decided to explore Greek mythology with the creation of Hercules. The Renaissance-era classic follows Hercules, the son of Zeus and Hera, who sought to prove that he was worthy enough to return to Mount Olympus.

While the film had a budget of $ 85 million, it ended up becoming a box office success, earning almost triple that in the world. Since its release, it has had a prequel and a TV series based on the Disney movie.

8 Mulan (1998) – $ 90 million

Mulan hands Li Shang her father's parchment

Disney’s Renaissance era continued to produce classics with the release of Mulan in 1998. The beloved classic centers around Mulan, a young woman who disguises herself as a soldier to save her father from service in the Emperor’s Army.

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According to Hollywood News, Mulan took a lot of work from the animators at Disney and even led to the development of software, Attila, to help the team animate the big Hun scene and make the backgrounds stand out. Fortunately, MulanThe high budget of paid off (around $ 90 million) and it grossed three times as much at the box office ($ 304 million).

7 The Road to Eldorado (2000) – $ 95 million

Miguel plays guitar while Tulio listens in The Road To El Dorado (2000)

While DreamWorks now exclusively uses computer generator animation, they have tried their hand at traditional animation, as with the release of The road to Eldorado, (a movie people forget was made by DreamWorks). This film centers on two crooks determined to find the lost city of gold known as El Dorado.

Despite being one of DreamWorks’ most expensive animated films ($ 95 million), the film has often been shelved at the studio in favor of The Prince of Persia. Sadly, things never changed for the team and the film became a box office flop, earning over $ 76 million.

6 The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) – $ 100 million

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the most expensive films of Disney’s Renaissance Era and arguably one of the most underrated. In the film, the titular “hunchback” Quasimodo is not only the bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, but he is also the protagonist of the film. His job is complicated when he befriends Esmerelda.

Although it is underestimated by the public today, The Hunchback of Notre Dame received rave reviews when it was released in 1996. It can also be considered a box office success, earning more than triple its global budget of $ 100 million ($ 325 million).

5 The Princess and the Frog (2009) – $ 105 million

Tiana holding frog-shaped Naveen getting ready to kiss her

The princess and the Frog made Disney history for a number of reasons, including being the only traditional animated film from the era of Disney’s revival and the studio’s last traditional animated film to date. In the movie, Tiana turns into a frog after trying to help Prince Naveen. Together, the two must work together to break the frog curse before it’s too late.

The return to the traditional roots of animation has borne fruit because The princess and the Frog earned $ 267 million at the box office (more than twice its budget of $ 105 million) and won three Oscar nominations.

4 Home On The Range (2004) – $ 110 million

Cows in Home on the Range

Although it is one of Disney’s traditionally most expensive animated films, Welcome on the beach was one of the worst performing films of the Post Disney Renaissance era according to its box office. The film follows three dairy cows who go on an adventure in the hopes of saving their beloved dairy farm from seizure.

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Welcome on the beach was plagued by problems early on, which likely led to its inflated budget of $ 110 million. Sadly, Disney’s take on a western never found its way and became a box office flop, earning just $ 145 million.

3 Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) – $ 120 million

Milo talks to Kida in Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Seeking to venture into the world of animated sci-fi, Disney released Atlantis: The Lost Empire in 2001. The film follows Milo, a museum cartographer who dreams of completing his grandfather’s quest before his death. Along the way, Milo teams up with a group of explorers who also seek out Atlantis.

Sadly, the film ended up disappointing at the box office after grossing just $ 186 million worldwide on a budget of $ 120 million. This then led Disney to set up their plan to launch the following television series, Atlantide team, waiting.

2 Tarzan (1999) – $ 130 million

Tarzan meets Jane in the rain in Tarzan (1999)

Never one to shy away from adaptations, Disney decided to adapt the literary novel, Tarzan of the monkeys, in the beloved classic Tarzan. The film follows Tarzan, a man raised by monkeys who is taken aback when he meets several humans. This then leads him to question his identity and to wonder if his place is with his family or with humans who resemble him.

Tarzan was extremely expensive for a number of reasons, including his footage of Tarzan flying through the air, his lively physique, and the iconic and memorable score that was created. Fortunately, it all paid off, making a huge profit ($ 448 million) from its $ 130 million budget and winning an Oscar for “Best Original Song.”

1 Treasure Planet (2002) – $ 140 million

Jim Hawkins looks at the stars

Disney continued to pursue the sci-fi genre with the release of Treasure planet and invested $ 140 million in the project in hopes of making it a success. Sadly, it turned out to be a box office flop but won an Oscar nomination.

Treasure planet centers on teenage Jim Hawkins, who finds himself on an intergalactic scavenger hunt after accidentally finding a map of a much sought-after treasure. The novel of the same name inspired the film, but even that couldn’t help make it a success.

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