Frozen 2 Is Now The Highest-Grossing Animated Movie Of All Time … If You Ignore The Lion King

Frozen 2 characters
(Image credit: Disney)

For the last time, is The Lion King 2019 an animated movie or not? I thought we had settled this with an answer of yes, and it's being treated that way on the awards circuit so far, but now I'm confused again. About five months ago, The Lion King made headlines across the web for dethroning Frozen as the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. But now here we are in January 2020 and Frozen 2 is getting the same headlines across the web -- even though its box office is significantly lower than The Lion King.

As of this weekend, Frozen 2 has made $1,325,176,364 worldwide. That is a lot. And it certainly does top the $1,276,219,009 of Frozen, which came out in 2013. It also tops Incredibles 2, which came close to briefly having the animated title with $1,242,805,359.

However, The Lion King is still the king with $1,656,821,650 worldwide. But is it "animated"? The 2019 Lion King is billed as a "photorealistic computer-generated remake" of the traditionally animated 1994 movie.

Granted, Frozen 2 is far from done. It's still making big money at the domestic box office and around the world. It could legitimately pass The Lion King later in 2020. But for now, I'm not sure whether to give it the new title or not.

It may seem like splitting hairs, since Disney gets bragging rights either way, but each movie's individual team also get pats on the back. Plus, two movies can't both be the highest-grossing animated movie of all time! (It is cool that they both came out in 2019. Just a great year for animation, and Disney in general.)

The Golden Globe Awards are tonight (Sunday, January 6) and Frozen II and The Lion King are competing against each other in the Best Motion Picture, Animated category.

So The Lion King is considered animation across the awards circuit and in many other places, even though it has also been described as "live-action." Yes, there is one "real" shot in the movie, as director Jon Favreau pointed out. But otherwise, computer animation is still animation, no? (For what it's worth, Disney's awards consideration page has both The Lion King and Frozen 2 suggested for Best Picture but only Frozen 2 also for Best Animated Feature.)

It's a weird situation. If you're curious, here's the current top 10 for animated movies (so far for Frozen 2, and not adjusted for inflation):

1. The Lion King (2019) - $1,657,713,458 (if you consider The Lion King as qualifying)2. Frozen II - $1,325,176,3643. Frozen - $1,276,219,0094. Incredibles 2 - $1,242,805,3595. Minions - $1,159,398,3976. Toy Story 4 - $1,073,394,5937. Toy Story 3 - $1,067,969,7038. Despicable Me 3 - $1,035,799,4099. Finding Dory - $1,029,570,88910. Zootopia - $1,024,784,195

At any rate, Frozen 2 is now being hailed across the web as the new champion, the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. The Lion King can either fight for the throne or allow that the whole "live action" vs. "animated" debate clouded the issue too much. I think Jon Favreau is having a good enough year, between The Lion King and The Mandalorian, that he couldn't care less if his film is considered the top of this category or not.

Interestingly enough, Frozen 2's VFX filmmakers were just saying they'd like to be considered alongside live-action movies when it comes to awards.

I know we're not adjusting for inflation, but just taking it Frozen 2 vs. The Lion King for this particular animated title, who should get the credit?

This poll is no longer available.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.