Blue Sky, Disney, DreamWorks, Illumination Entertainment, LAIKA, Opinions, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation, Studio Ghibli, Studios, Warner Animation

Debate: What’s the Best Animation Studio of the Decade?

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In the ’90s, Disney reigned supreme. A decade later, Pixar was a behemoth that gave us instant classic after instant classic. Nobody could compete with these two in their respective decades. But since 2010, the picture isn’t as clear. So I put it up to you, readers, to tell us what you think the dominant studio of the 2010s is!

The rest of this article will consist of short summaries on nine major animation studios, a list of all the movies they’ve produced since the decade began, average Rotten Tomatoes* scores of all their movies combined, average budgets, and box office.

*Rotten Tomatoes is not a perfect tool, as it doesn’t measure quality as much as accessibility across the board, but it’s a good way to see what movies worked and which ones didn’t.

The Big Ones

Disney

The Walt Disney Animation Studios has been living in a new Golden Age lately. It started the decade with Tangled, which brought its Princess movies into the 21st Century and has continued to produce hits in that genre while producing excellent non-princess, non-musical movies too. Zootopia has the highest Rotten Tomatoes score with an extraordinary 98%. If you want to read more about Disney’s extraordinary years, you can read our Disney Revival Rundown reviews or our Countdown to Moana.

Movies since 2010: Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It-Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana

Average Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

Average Budget: $167 million

Average Box Office: $673 million

 

Pixar

Toy-Story-3-Ending

The once undisputed king of animation started the decade off with a bang with Toy Story 3, only the third animated movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture. Sadly, it followed Toy Story 3 with Cars 2, which has a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes that severely hurt Pixar’s average. Once famous for its original movies, Pixar has released only three of these this decade, along with five sequels/prequels. Toy Story 3 is the clear front runner for their best movie of the decade with an amazing 99% on RT (Inside Out and Finding Dory are the only other scores over 90%).

Movies since 2010: Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, and Cars 3

Average Rotten Tomatoes score: 78.75%

Average Budget: $195 million

Average Box Office: $733 million

DreamWorks


DreamWorks has released an astounding 16 movies since the decade began starting with the amazing How to Train Your Dragon. Some have worked and some haven’t, but aside from the Dragon movies, DreamWorks hasn’t hit the heights it got us used to.

Movies since 2010: How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After, Megamind, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Rise of the Guardians, The Croods, Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Penguins of Madascagar, Home, Kung Fu Panda 3, Trolls, The Boss Baby, and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73.93%

Average budget: $144.6 million

Average Box Office: $514 million

The Smaller Ones

Studio Ghibli


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The Japanese studio has released a mere five movies this decade and most of them have been very well received. The Tale of Princess Kaguya, in fact, holds the rare 100% on RT. You can read detailed takes on all Studio Ghibli’s movies on our Ghibli Countdown series right here.

Movies since 2010: Arrietty, From Up on Poppy Hill, The Wind Rises, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and When Marnie Was There

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91.8%

Average Budget: $27 million

Average Box Office: $80 million

Laika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laika has only made three movies in these seven years. It’s a small studio and it does stop-motion, which takes ages to do as beautifully as Laika does. While its movies also have considerably smaller budgets than its American counterparts, Laika still shines as a filmmaker driven studio.

Movies since 2010: Paranorman, The Boxtrolls, and Kubo and the Two Strings

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86.33%

Average budget: $60 million

Average Box Office: $96 million

Blue Sky Studios



Of the five movies Blue Sky has released this decade, two have been Ice Age sequels, suggesting it doesn’t have many new ideas. There are still highlights, but the last sequel has the lowest score of all movies sampled (15%).

Movies since 2010: Rio, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Epic, Rio 2, The Peanuts Movie, and Ice Age: Collision Course

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55.83%

Average Budget: $117 million

Average Box Office: $463 million

Illumination Entertainment

Illumination started off the decade by releasing Despicable Me and quickly realizing the Minions were practically a money printing license. Its original movie The Secret Life of Pets holds the record for the biggest box office opening weekend for any original movie ever ($104 million)

Movies since 2010: Despicable Me, Hop, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Despicable Me 2, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, and Sing

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62.14%

Average Budget: $71 million

Average Box Office: $673 million

Warner Bros Animation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warner Bros. only joined the party three years ago with the awesome Lego Movie and, out of the other two movies they’ve released, one is a spinoff and another is coming this fall. Can they simply make Lego movies forever more? I guess we’ll find out!

Movies since 2010: The Lego Movie, Storks, and The Lego Batman Movie

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Average Budget: $70 million

Average Box Office: $320 million

Sony Pictures Animation

cloudy-with-a-chance-of-meatballs-2-teaser-trailer-screenshot-andy-sambergMovies since 2010: Arthur Christmas, Pirates! Band of Misfits, Hotel Transylvania, Hotel Transylvania 2, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Angry Birds Movie, Smurfs: The Lost Village

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66.28%

Average budget: $75 million

Average Box Office: $273 million

Conclusion

So looking at the data, a few things jump out:

Pixar has the highest budgets (rarely go down from $200 million per movie) and the highest box office returns.

-The three highest RT scores (Ghibli, Disney, and Laika) count no sequels amongst their movies.

-Even though Illumination‘s budgets are $100 million lower than Disney‘s on average, its box office is the same. The power of Minions!

So, these are all numbers, lets’ get to the the point:

What do you think the best studio of the decade is? Will you go for Disney’s revival? Pixar’s safe bets? Ghibli’s artistry? Laika’s originality? Minions? Let us know in the poll and in the comments! 

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Pablo Ruiz

Pablo Ruiz is a Colombian filmmaker. Movies like Toy Story, The Lion King and Aladdin made him fall in love with the art form and now he hopes to dedicate his life to telling stories, hopefully for Pixar (if they go back to doing original films). Some of his ambitions are making a movie as emotionally impacting as Toy Story 3, meeting JK Rowling, and petting a million dogs. Follow him on Twitter (@PabloRV7).
  • My heart says Pixar, but I know that Disney’s movies have had more widespread appeal over the past decade. So…

    • Manuel Orozco

      My heart says Pixar too. I’m seeing Cars 3 tonight.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Hey did you enjoy Cars 3?

      • Still haven’t seen it yet! I got to see Captain Underpants yesterday instead. Funny movie! But as far as Cars 3 goes, I hope to go this Saturday, assuming everything works out.

        • Manuel Orozco

          Just asking. I’m thinking of waiting until DVD Netflix to check out Captain Underpants and Rachel Wagner told me it was really good.

          • No matter how you see it, you’re really gonna like Captain Underpants! It’s an energetic and funny movie. I watched Rachel’s review too, and I thought her impressions were spot on.

          • Manuel Orozco

            You can bet on it! Plus I might as well do it since this was the last DreamWorks Animation feature we are getting until HTTYD 3 comes out two years from now.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Just please keep me posted when you see Cars 3

          • Will do!

            (Oh, by the way, I saw you on Black Nerd Comedy’s Cars 3 review the other day. Did you see it? :D)

          • Manuel Orozco

            Sure did! I like Black Nerd

          • Same! His videos are fun to watch

          • Manuel Orozco

            Totally! I don’t watch every one of them. Just whatever interests me.

  • I’m very shock to see that Cartoon Saloon is not listed on there!!

    • PabloRuiz7

      I think they’ve only released one movie this decade? I may be wrong but that’s why I didn’t include them =)

      • Technically, they’ve released two films thus far (The Secret Of Kells and Song Of The Sea) and they will soon being releasing another film later on this year which of course is The Breadwinner.

        • PabloRuiz7

          Secret of the Kells was 2009, though, right? So you’ll understand why I couldn’t put them in this list.

          Here’s the info for you anyway!

          Movies since 2010: Song of the Sea

          Average Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

          Average budget: $8 million dollars

          Average Box Office: $739,000 dollars

          • Understandable but I will still count it just because I really adore Cartoon Saloon a whole lot.

  • Yellow

    Love this article! It’s very well organized and has a good overview of the major studios.
    For me, it’s definitely Walt Disney Animation. They’ve been churning out consistently great movies that often only get better.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Tangled Zootopia and Frozen are on par but I loved Wreck It Ralph Big Hero 6 and Moana even more.

      • Yellow

        That’s another thing I love about their recent work; there’s a movie for everyone. It seems that even if someone doesn’t like most of the films, there’s at least one that stands out.

        • Manuel Orozco

          You got that right

  • Manuel Orozco

    Kind of tough to pick but I voted for Pixar in the polls since I’ve seen every feature they’ve released this decade so far except I’m seeing Cars 3 tonight. I’ve seen all the listed Disney Animation entries except Winnie the Pooh. The only Ghlibi film I saw was Secret World of Arriety. Meanwhile all Illumination except Hop. Sony Hotel Transylvania 1/2 and Smurfs. Blue Sky Epic and the Peanuts Movie. From Laika I had seen Boxtrolls and Kubo. Last but not least DreamWorks, How to Train Your Dragon 1/2, Kung Fu Panda 2/3, Shrek Forever After, Megamind, Croods, Turbo, Peabody and Sherman and Trolls.

  • aquapyro

    Walt Disney Animation hands down. Their films are what made me go back to the theater

    • Manuel Orozco

      Made you go back really?

      • aquapyro

        Yep. From 1999 to 2009 I didn’t step foot in one

        • Manuel Orozco

          Wow! Well I always have gone to the theatre avidly since I was 11 when I overcame my fear of the lights going down before the movie starts. How come anyway?

    • Yellow

      Same here. It was The Princess and the Frog that got me stoked to see a Disney movie in theaters.

  • Dimitris Koliniatis

    1 word: Frozen
    (Disney rules)

  • I’d have to go with Disney. They have made the highest quality films in this decade.

  • Aardman shouldn’t be packaged in with Sony and should stand on their own.

    Disney would have to have been the most consistent thus far this decade and are the standard in the industry.

    Laika and Aardman would tie for second as I can’t really fault any of their films and enjoy them a lot. It’s great seeinf films made with such care and effort.

    Pixar then comes in third (or technically fourth) as they still produce work that is better than most even if it hasn’t hit the amazing run of films in the 00’s. It is fantastic to see them putting so much money into their movies amd still pushing the technology of CGI films. I’ve been having arguments with friends in regards to Cars 3 who say I shouldn’t waste my time on a third Cars film but my retort is always that even if it’s bad it will look amazing and that’s worth the price of admission alone.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I just Cars 3 last night and it was great.

  • PabloRuiz7

    Fun Fact: The average RT score for Pixar in the aughts was almost 94% =)

    (and that’s basically because of Cars’ 76%, other than that they’re mostly 96+)

  • Fluffydips

    Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Animation from Hollywood area, and Laika and Ghibli for outside artsier stuff.

  • Fadi Antwan

    Disney for sure! Not only did they manage to not make any bad movie for the last decade, but everything they’ve made since then has received critical and popular acclaim. At the same time, they managed to diversify their content more than ever. I mean, who would have thought __ years ago that Disney would make a successful superhero movie or a one about video games? It’s just an incredible story of a company getting back on its feet thanks to great management and creative team(s).

    Way to go, Disney!

    • Manuel Orozco

      Guess we can agree that Tangled, Wreck It Ralph, Frozen (even though it’s popularity has been overwhelming), Big Hero 6, Zootopia and Moana have been wonderful in their own unique way. And I’m all for diversity since it’s the new frontier as much as female empowerment is.

      • Fadi Antwan

        I actually meant content diversity, not cultural diversity, though that’s very important as well! And I’m glad Disney is making efforts to address that and give us characters from more cultural backgrounds.

        • Manuel Orozco

          I kinda thought of that too.

  • Alex Beezley

    As much as I admire Pixar, I only think that they have released two great films this decade (Toy Story 3 and Inside Out). Walt Disney Animation Studios, on the other hand, has stepped up their game in this decade and released three great films in my opinion (Tangled, Big Hero 6, and Moana). Therefore, I am giving the edge to my second favorite animation studio.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Pixar greats this decade to me are Toy Story 3, Inside Out and Cars 2/3 (saw the new one last night). Disney Animation greats Wreck It Ralph Big Hero 6 and Moana.

  • Jeremiah

    Not so long ago, I’dve said Dreamworks. No really, Kung Fu Panda, Rise of the Guardians, and HTTYD, it looked like they were the studio that could do it all. Hilarious comedies with good characters and heart, and also, serious, wondrous films. But well, Boss Baby.

    Nothing Disney’s made rivals Inside Out, but then, anything in last decade leaves Cars 2-hrm, I won’t finish that sentence because “in the dust” sounds like a car pun. So it’s hard. I’m leaning towards Disney though. They’re still the house that Walt built.

    • Manuel Orozco

      It’s tough to choose between Disney and Pixar for me. But DreamWorks I turned down Madagascar 3, Penguins of Madagascar, Home, Rise of the Guardians and Boss Baby. The other ones I’ve seen and were a mix of very good to great. And I actually prefer their current style of humor than how they would often do over the top potty jokes and pop cultural references.

    • Dreamworks has made some fine ones, but I feel it’s more quantity over quality.
      They released tons of films since 2010, but only a handful were great in my view.

      • Manuel Orozco

        I agree. But in particular Kung Fu Panda 2/3, Croods, Puss in Boots and Turbo

    • Everything fell apart for DreamWorks in many ways after Rise of the Guardians. They should have continued the momentum.

  • Braden

    This decade is definitely owned by Disney. WDAS has brought us some of the most iconic and beloved films in the last 7 years and they haven’t released a bad one yet! Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky, and Illumination haven’t been able to pull of such a streak. From Tangled to Moana Disney’s been making a name for itself yet again and has found a place in pop culture again, especially with Frozen, Zootopia, and Moana! Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  • Looking at the poll, it’s very accurate. I like that no one voted for Sony Animation.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Doesn’t surprise me too much

  • Awesome article! I’m gonna have to agree with everyone else and say that disney for sure wins here. They practically own this decade of animation! Disney has really worked hard to produce quality content and has not been afraid to go after original and different content! Even their films that are based off of existing material are still incredible and inventive. For a lot of us disney is the reason why were animation addicts and for me personally their films of this decade have really inspired me to appreciate and work for the industry. At the moment I’m not looking forward for the sequels that are to come for the end of this decade, but then again disney has been coming out with amazing stuff! I wouldn’t be surprised if they, well, surprised me! That doesn’t make much sense but I think you get the idea. Point is, disney is king!

  • Billy Lockwood

    My favorite animation studio of the current decade is Disney. All of their animations have been great. The only disappointment is having to wait 2 years between Moana (Fall 2016) to their next movie Wreck-It Ralph 2 (Fall of 2018). From what I have read online there is a 2 year gap until their next movie. Hopefully they are using the time to refine the story and animation of their upcoming movies.

  • It’s easy to like Disney, but I’d give the prize to Laika. They’re the ones that are breaking new ground with their animation and stories. They are slowly positioning themselves as one of the big studios and they’ll always have my support 🙂

  • David Kang

    I haven’t seen a single flop from LAIKA studios. These guys who work for them are masters of their own craft! Just think about CORALINE, PARANORMAN, BOXTROLLS and KUBO. They all tell awesome, unique stories that I think puts them as the best (if not by far) studio of this decade. The only closest studio behind LAIKA is DISNEY. I’m sorry pixar fans (FYI: I’m too am a pixar fan) but they didn’t impress me as LAIKA did.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I’ve seen all Laika movies except Paranorman. Kubo is the best they’ve done so far. I’ve also seen every Disney Animation film so far this decade except Winnie the Pooh.

      • David Kang

        Winnie the Pooh and Paranorman are both great films. I highly recommend you to check them out! Especially Winnie the Pooh (if you’re a hard core disney fan). Winnie the Pooh is so cute and lovable.

        • Manuel Orozco

          Sorry i feel too old for Pooh. Paranorman although it’s not a full fledged horror flick, I don’t come to a movie mainly to get scared. Plus I normally hate zombies. I’m not hard core Disney at all.

          • David Kang

            oh well it’s okay. I just love what LAIKA did but I don’t think they get enough love for what they do. My favorite film has to be Mulan. love that film. What is your favorite animated film?

          • Manuel Orozco

            Tough to pick a fave. But I can tell you my favorite from Disney Animation Wreck It Ralph