This Is the Most Profitable Kids Movie of All Time

Data about movie finances tends to focus on box office sales. By this measure, “Avatar” (2009) ranks in first place at $2,847,379,794. When adjusted for inflation, “Gone With the Wind” (1939) generally takes the prize. Weekly reports about movies also focus on box office sales. For years, this was based on ticket sales. As the international market has grown, sales from outside North America often get included.

Producers, directors and movie studios look at films in an entirely different way. They care very much about whether a movie was profitable. Profits have gone from being mostly a product of money from movie theaters. That expanded, over time, to DVDs, television and, most recently, streaming.

Measurements of revenue and profits are sometimes broken out by the film categories. Among the most often used of these are westerns, comedies, dramas and science fiction. Another major category is films made for children.

To determine not just the highest-grossing but the most profitable kids movie of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on worldwide box office and production budgets for movies rated G by the Motion Picture Association from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. G-rated films not obviously aimed at children, like “Gone With the Wind” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” were excluded from consideration.

Movies we considered were ranked based on the ratio of worldwide box office receipts to production budget, with data for both adjusted for inflation using historical ticket prices from the National Association of Theater Owners. Supplemental data on average user ratings from IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon, and Tomatometer scores from Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, are current as of March 2022.

The most profitable kids movie of all time was “Bambi” (1942). Here are the details:

  • Box office return per dollar invested in production: +$276.40
  • Worldwide box office, inflation-adjusted: $8.9 billion
  • Production budget, inflation-adjusted: $32.2 million
  • IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (139,352 votes)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (53 reviews)

One of the most successful animated features of all time, “Bambi” tells the tale of a young buck who loses his mother to hunters and explores the forest with his friends to discover the beauty and horror that the natural world has in store. “Man,” who is the number 20 villain on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Heroes and Villains in film, is the only one who never appears “on camera.”

Click here to see all the most profitable kids movies of all time.

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