Cartoons capture the imaginations of children and mature audiences alike. Whether it's their simple story lines, witty humor, presentation of an imaginative alternate reality or simply their appeal to the inner kid in all of us, animated films regularly find great success at the box office. Although the target audience is often the younger generation, adults seem to enjoy cartoons as much as their children do. (For a related reading, see The Actual Top Grossing U.S. Movies.)
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History of Success
Recently there have been several major animated blockbusters films that have soared to become the highest-grossing movies in the years of their release. "Aladdin," "The Lion King," "Shrek 2" and "Toy Story 3" received the honor of being Hollywood's most successful movies in 1992, 1994, 2004 and 2010 respectively. With two more months left in 2010, the third installment of "Toy Story" brought in $40 million more than the year-to-date runner up, "Alice in Wonderland".

For the cartoon industry, 2010 has actually been a very successful year. According to data provided by Box Office Mojo, of the 10 highest grossing movies this year, four are cartoons - "Toy Story 3", "Shrek Forever After", "Despicable Me" and "How to Train Your Dragon". In 2009, the industry was slightly less successful in terms of the number of cartoons ranking among the top 10; only "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" and "Up", which was very successful in North America but fell short on the international scale, made the cut. (To learn more, check out Movie Genres That Make The Most Money.)

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Cartoons On Top
The top three grossing cartoons have not only produced smiles, laughs and hours of entertainment, but have also brought in big box office bucks. The main characters starring in these films have become regular household names, as easily recognizable as Mickey Mouse and Homer Simpson.

Green with Envy
"Shrek 2" is the highest-grossing animated film in the domestic market, bringing in over $440 million from North American ticket sales. Box Office Mojo notes that, after factoring in international audiences, the movie generated nearly $920 million. The other three installments in the Shrek series all rank in the top 13 of the highest grossing cartoons of all time. As a matter of fact, the Shrek series is the fourth-highest all-time movie series, ranking slightly better than the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in total worldwide box office sales.

... And Beyond!
"Toy Story 3" generated over $414 million in domestic sales and has actually surpassed "Shrek 2" revenues after factoring in international earnings. The film surpassed the $1 billion mark - not bad for a movie that had an operating budget of $200 million. The "Toy Story" trilogy, which brought in nearly $2 billion in ticket sales, is currently number 10 on the top grossing film series list, but may soon surpass "Indiana Jones", which is just ahead of it.

Just Keep Swimming
The 2003 blockbuster hit "Finding Nemo" produced revenues of $868 million, split 39% and 61% between domestic and foreign sales. Unlike many of the other successful cartoons featured on the Box Office Mojo list of the 100 top animations, "Finding Nemo" sits has had no sequels. Although quiet rumors have emerged that Finding Nemo 2 will eventually be in the works, Pixar has not made any such announcements.

And the Rest
The list of cartoons that have grossed over $100 million in domestic ticket sales is compiled of over 50 memorable movies, ranging from classics such as "Pocahontas", "Beauty and The Beast" and "The Lion King", to more recent films such as "Kung Fu Panda", "Madagascar 2" and "Cars". Cartoon lovers should take note that these aforementioned "more recent films" are expected to produce sequels within the next two years. (Wondering how you can make money off these blockbuster flicks? Check out Analyzing Show Biz Stocks.)

For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: Lions And Diapers And Dows, Oh My!

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