Over the past decade, we have continually seen new animated movies take on either traditional hand-drawn animation, or computer-generated animation, or opt for an anime style of animation. There’s no doubt the 2023 movie landscape hasn’t fallen short of delivering some exceptional animated movies. From franchise renovations to sequels, this year has certainly been a good year for animated film lovers.
So far we have seen a diverse range of genres and styles, and the animation industry has reached new heights. This year’s lineup of animations has broken records, made history, and outperformed most non-animated movies of 2023 at the box office and worldwide. 2023 is the first year since 2019 to have an animated movie grossing over $1 billion. In no particular order let’s take a look at the top 5 animated movies of 2023.
Elemental is an animated romantic comedy-drama film. In some countries, the movie is subtitled Forces of Nature. The movie debuted at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 27, 2023, followed by a worldwide premiere on June 10, 2023, at Tribeca Festival. The Good Dinosaur director Peter Sohn, explored themes of racial diversity and the conflicting nature of society in Elemental. Elemental is set in a world where beings of fire, water, plants, air, and rocks coexist in a metropolitan city known as Element City. follows the story of an improbable romance between the watery Wade voiced by Mamoudou Athie and fiery Ember Leah Lewis and their attempt to save a convenience store owned by Ember’s father, Bernie. Elemental has been regarded by analysts as a sleeper hit with a worldwide gross of over $450 million so far.
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse
One of the most successful projects released this year, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was released in theaters in the United States on June 2, 2023. The animated superhero film is the highly anticipated sequel to 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse. The movie which follows the thrilling adventures of the Marvel Comics character Miles Morales as he joins forces with Gwen Stacy and the Spider-People to fight a supervillain is set in a shared multiverse of alternate universes called the Spider-Verse. The film explores themes of fate and self-realization as Miles’ civilian life and superhero destiny undeniably intertwine. Following its release Across the Spider-Verse broke several records including the film’s official overtake of Big Hero 6’s as the highest-earning animated film based on a comic book. It is also the highest-grossing film produced by Sony Pictures Animation.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
2023 gave a fresh take on the 40-year-old TMNT franchise. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is an animated superhero film and the seventh theatrical Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film and a reboot of the Turtles series. In the past decade, the pizza-loving turtle brothers have had two live-action films and two separate animated television series. The film features an ensemble voice cast that includes names such as John Cena, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Giancarlo Esposito, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Paul Rudd, and Post Malone among others. The film follows the turtles who embark on a hunt for a mysterious crime syndicate, but things take a turn when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them. It was well received by critics with some considering it the best Turtles film. At the box office, it also impressed with a gross of $180 million worldwide against a $70 million budget.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Currently holding the title for the second-highest-grossing film of 2023 so far, is the animated adventure comedy film The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The movie is based on Nintendo’s Mario video game franchise. The Super Mario Bros. Movie follows the adventures of brothers, Mario and Luigi who are accidentally transported to an alternate world where they help Princess Peach, leader of the Mushroom Kingdom, as she sets out to stop the all-powerful Bowser from conquering the world. It is also the highest-grossing film based on a video game. The film carries viewers through a colourful world of references and elements from Mario games like The Mushroom Kingdom and Rainbow Road. The film also features an ensemble voice cast including Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, and Fred Armisen.
The Boy And The Heron
Last on our list is the Japanese animated fantasy film The Boy and the Heron. Although the film has an original story that is not connected to the Japanese novel titled How Do You Live? The film makes references to the 1937 novel by Genzaburō Yoshino. The film is produced by the popular Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli, the studio is credited with the production of some popular Japanese animations such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo.
Upon the film’s release, it was noted for its intentional absence of any promotion, with Studio Ghibli choosing not to release any trailers or casting details of the film in advance. The Boy and the Heron follows the tales of a boy named Mahito Maki, who discovers an abandoned tower in his new town and enters a fantastical world with a talking grey heron. The film grossed over $50 million in Japan.
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