Highest Grossing 3D Movies All Time? The Box Office Reigning Champs List

15 May

Avatar Wallpaper

The most successful film of all time, 3D or otherwise, is without a doubt, Avatar by James Cameron.

What are the best-selling highest-grossing 3D movies of all time at the box office? In the vain of the last two posts, I thought I’d answer that question with a list of the highest-grossing 3-D films of all time… this is post-Avatar, which is the movie that really kicked off the 3D revolution as we now know it. (Previously 3D movies appeared as early as the 1950s, and had another spurt in the 1980s.)

Be sure to check out my Billion Dollar Club, What Movies Made Over $1 Billion Dollars? and The Avengers Box Office Sales Exceed $1 Billion Dollars Worldwide articles as well.

During the 3D revolution post-Avatar, studios started pumping out 3D movies like it was going out of style, and even editing 2D movies in post-production to make them into stereoscopic 3D movies. With this came a 40% increase in ticket pricing at box office cinemas and movie theaters, and a flooding stream of subpar 3D movies… just as movie theaters the world over had 3D projectors installed to cash-in on the new phenomenon (which actually led to the branding of “3D” and “2D” versions of films… something that seems surreal coming from a gamers perspective).

Of course, these studios jumped the gun, and over-saturated the 3D market. Combined with high ticket-sales, 3D films have continued to cost a ton of money and ended up bombing at the box office. One of the biggest flops was Disney’s recent “Mars Needs Moms”, which cost upwards of $175 Million Dollars to create… it completely bombed at the box office, making only $7 million during its opening weekend. It was headed up by Robert Zemeckis, who is considered a pioneer in the realm of 3D films along with James Cameron, someone dedicated to the craft.

Sadly his career took a huge backseat due to the flopping of Mars Needs Moms, which caused Disney to close his digital film studio, ImageMovers Digital, as well as cancel his next project, which was to be his planned 3D version of 1968 Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine… sadly, as always, the ones who have their reigns on the money are unable to see beyond the fact that entertainment releases are self-contained, I think a Yellow Submarine remake would’ve fared much better than “Mars Needs Moms”, just because the latter sounds so strange and is unfamiliar to people…

Anyway, to the list!

What Are the Most Successful 3D Movies of All Time?

1. Avatar (2009)
Cost: $500 Million; Gross: $2.8 Billion
James Cameron’s epic burst onto the 3D scene and blew the doors off the joint, proving how successful 3D could be and pioneering the art. Avatar is an epic not likely to ever be topped. It sits on the throne as the highest-grossing film of all time, 3D or 2D. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Avatar 2 or Avatar 3 will top it…

2. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Cost: $200 Million; Gross: $1.02 Billion
Tim Burton’s remake of Disney’s classic tale. This film ranks #10 in the highest grossing films of all time, 3D or otherwise.

3. Despicable Me (2010)
Cost: $69 Million; Gross: $528 Million
Chris Renaud’s animated film became a huge hit.

4. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Cost: $200 Million; Gross: $1.06 Billion
Pixar’s Oscar-winning animated film and the third in the award-winning, critically acclaimed, beloved Toy Story franchise starring voice actors Tom Hanks (as gun-slinging puppet Woody) and Tim Allen (as space-fighting action-figure Buzz Lightyear), directed by Lee Unkrich. Making Toy Story 3 the highest-grossing Animated Film of all time, and #7 on the list of the highest-grossing movies of all time (2D or 3D).

5. Up (2009)
Cost: 175$ Million; Gross: $731 Million
Another Pixar/Disney animated favorite directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson.

6. Shrek Forever After (2010)
Cost: $165 Million; Gross: $750 Million
The final movie in the Shrek franchise starring voice actors Mike Myers (as the green-skinned ogre Shrek), Eddie Murphy (as Donkey), Antonio Banderas (as Puss-In-Boots) and Cameron Diaz (as Princess Fiona). Directed by Mike Mitchell.

7. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Cost: $165 Million. Gross: $495 Million
A critically-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated hit-smash Animated film directed by Dean DuBlois & Chris Sanders.

8. Monsters vs Aliens (2010)
Cost: $175 Million; Gross: $382 Million
Rob Letterman-directed animated feature about the war between monsters and aliens.

It’s very interesting to note the obvious, the vast majority of 3D film successes have been animated… I wonder why that is?

I guess it these movies have to appeal to kids or a wide, wide, WIDE audience to find success as a 3D film. I think adults are much more hesitant to go see a 3D film because of the high-cost, a cost parents are willing to pay for their kids, but not for themselves. And kids themselves are more willing to pay money to see a 3D film since they don’t have to work for their hard-earned for the most part. Thus cost is less of an issue with animated, kid-friendly films.

Why DO YOU think most of the successful 3D films (with only two acceptations) are animated?

Do you agree that the reason live-action 3D films are less successful is due to the high cost?

Here’s a How to Train Your Dragon trailer.


Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Features, News, Videos


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2 responses to “Highest Grossing 3D Movies All Time? The Box Office Reigning Champs List

  1. Shalanda Meeds

    March 10, 2013 at 11:59 am

    2012 was a phenomenal year for 3D movies, with the likes of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Avengers Assemble and Brave all making a big impact on the box office. And the movie industry has certainly not fallen out of love with stereoscopic 3D yet, with plenty of great new releases coming our way. Here we take a look at some of the most exciting 3D movies you can look foward to in 2013, including full details and sneak-peek trailers. .

    Very latest write-up from our web-site

    • astro64th

      March 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Although I think what you say is true, it seems that most people are much less excited about seeing 3D movies these days. I can’t think of anyone who goes out of their way to see movies in 3D. I finally saw my 2nd 3D movie since Avatar, which was “Jack the Giant Slayer”, and we intended to see it in 2D but got the times mixed up so it was either see it in 3D or wait. And while I enjoyed seeing it in 3D, the annoyance of having to wear glasses on top of my real glasses is enough to make me not want to see another 3D movie. 2D is just more convenient, less annoying, and cheaper. Thanks for the comment!


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