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Despicable Me moves above Shrek to become highest grossing animated franchise ever

But what about Toy Story?
Gru and Lucy smiling at each other
Despicable Me franchise is the highest grossing in animated history

Despicable Me 3 has quietly but relentlessly amassed the staggering box office sum of $881.5 million over the last few weeks, a haul that has now pushed Despicable Me past Shrek to make it the highest grossing animated franchise in cinematic history.

In total all three Despicable Me films, and the spin-off Minions, have now brought in $3.52 billion at the box office, which has seen it usurp Shrek’s $3.51 billion receipts. What’s even more impressive is that Despicable Me managed to reach this sum in just four films, while Shrek needed five, including its own spin-off Puss In Boots.

While Despicable Me 3 only received mixed reviews, the previous installments were treated much kinder. The 2010 original and its 2013 sequel have scores of 81% and 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, while the latter was also nominated for Best Animated Feature.

They’ve become increasingly popular with moviegoers, too, as the box office totals for each sequel have eclipsed their predecessors. That trend might end soon, though, because Despicable Me 3 still has over $285 million to go before it matches Minions’ $1.167 billion, an amount that saw it become the second highest grossing animated film ever back in 2015, behind Frozen’s $1.276 billion.

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Those of you wondering where the Toy Story franchise is in this discussion will be disappointed to learn that the Despicable Me series is actually on the verge of doubling Woody, Buzz et al’s combined $1.938 billion gross. Toy Story is so far behind because of inflation and the fact that the 1995 original was only released into 2,574 theaters while Despicable Me 3 was released in 4,535. That could all change in the future, though, as Toy Story 4 will be with us in 2019, and should match the $1.067 billion that Toy Story 3 grossed in 2010.

Considering their success, it’s unlikely that Universal and Ilumination Entertainment will stop at just four Despicable Me films, though. Especially when you add in the fact that at around $75 million to make, they only cost half as much to make as their animated rivals, too.