Special Report

The Worst Animated Disney Movies of All Time

Disney wrote the book on animated movies, beginning with the world’s first full length animated feature film, “Snow White,” in 1937. The movie brightened a dark, Grimm Brothers’ folk tale with iconic elements that came to evince a distinct Disney style: casts of memorable cartoon characters, cute forest animals with wagging butts, catchy tunes, and happy, happy endings.

Frequently, Disney scripts also adopted some of the noirish features of the folk tradition, often with deceased parents, truly frightening evil doers, and lost innocence, but, for the most part, they were meant to send movie goers home whistling a happy tune.

As the Disney style evolved, particularly after the addition of Pixar in 2006, the stories became ever more original, adopting contemporary themes, ethnic and female heroes, and a winking charm for the adults sitting in on the fun. Here’s how Pixar films have done at the box office.

Many of the movies, such as “The Lion King” and “Toy Story”, became instant classics, the former spinning off an immensely popular Broadway show, and the latter finding renewed magic, and immense profit, in sequels.

The formula has worked most of the time to great success, as the Disney studios animated traditional fairy tales and classic children’s books over the course of generations, while introducing stories with a more relevant, modern vibe, and raking in dozens of Academy Awards.

These movies are iconic, popular, and memorable — except for the ones that aren’t. It’s easy to think of Disney animation as one long success story, but, in fact, the studio produced some clunkers. There are many Disney movies we watch with our kids again and again, but here are the ones that you probably won’t sit through a second time.
Here are the animated flops from other studios.

Click here for the worst Disney movies of all time

Methodology

To identify the best animated Disney movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo created an index composed of each film’s rating on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, as well as its Audience Score and Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. Data on worldwide ticket sales came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services, and is adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index and historic movie ticket prices.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

25. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
> IMDb rating: 7
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 70
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $674.6 million
> Starring: Demi Moore, Jason Alexander, Mary Kay Bergman, Corey Burton

Mingling comedy and drama, this film adds sweetness and a happy ending to the dark Victor Hugo classic. Quasimodo, the disfigured and sorely abused bellringer, joins forces with the beautiful gypsy, Esmerelda. Together, they save the gypsies’ home, and, ultimately, the cathedral, from the evil Frolio, Quasimodo’s life-long tormentor.

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

24. The Lion King (2019)
> IMDb rating: 6.9
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 88
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $1.7 billion
> Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor

A computer animated remake, the film sticks boringly close to the original, with an all-star cast voicing the photorealistic characters. With a little help from his friends, Simba the cub accepts his destiny to replace his dad as king of the jungle, but this time the story and characters lack the charm and energy of the 1994 traditionally animated version. The critics panned it, while praising the technology, but the box office returns were phenomenal.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

23. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
> IMDb rating: 6.8
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 74
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $227.1 million
> Starring: Daniel Hansen, Wesley Singerman, Angela Bassett, Jordan Fry

A 12-year-old orphan with a genius for invention is on a quest to find his mother, a quest that takes him back and forth in time as his brain-scanning machine is sabotaged by evil-doers. After hanging out with own future self and family, he rejects a chance to reunite with Mom. Disney scrapped a plan to do a sequel.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

22. The Good Dinosaur (2015)
> IMDb rating: 6.7
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 65
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $362.7 million
> Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Maleah Nipay-Padilla, Ryan Teeple

Arlo is a young dinosaur in a reimagined world in which dinosaurs survived a near-hit by a meteor and lived as a superior species in the age of cavemen. Arlo blames an orphaned cave boy, who he has dubbed Spot, for the death of his own father. Arlo and Spot ultimately find friendship, alternately saving each other’s lives through a number of misadventures and encounters with dinosaur rivals.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

21. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
> IMDb rating: 6.9
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 68
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $103.0 million
> Starring: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, John Candy, Tristan Rogers

A young boy in the Australian outback attracts a menagerie of determined animals in his effort to save an Eagle and her eggs from the ruthless poacher McLeash. The story culminates in a chaotic rescue at a torrential waterfall and its crocodile infested pool, where death awaits the villain.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Distribution Company

20. The Aristocats (1970)
> IMDb rating: 7.1
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 70
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $309.1 million
> Starring: Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Sterling Holloway, Scatman Crothers

Considered enjoyable but unmemorable, “The Aristocrats” was based on an original script which adopted many Disney tropes. Duchess, a pampered pet of an opera diva, and her kittens are victimized by their owner’s evil butler, but are rescued by a cadre of animal pals, including an adorably non-aristocratic alley cat, Thomas O’Malley. The movie is redeemed by beloved actors Ava Gabor and Phil Harris, who provide the voices for Duchess and O’Malley.

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

19. Cars 3 (2017)
> IMDb rating: 6.7
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 69
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $391.7 million
> Starring: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion

The third in the Car series revived the franchise after the inferior sophomore episode, adding a somewhat melancholy depth to the characters and playing with classic dramatic themes. The hero, Lightning McQueen, is aging out of racing, flummoxed by youth and technology, but finds satisfaction in advancing the career of a younger racer, who happens to be a girl.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

18. A Goofy Movie (1995)
> IMDb rating: 6.9
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 70
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $74.4 million
> Starring: Bill Farmer, Jason Marsden, Jim Cummings, Kellie Martin

Disney’s early cartoon star, Goofy, is reintroduced as an embarrassing dad trying to bond with his teen son on a camping trip. Though there is plenty of goofiness and gags, along with Disney-esque dark moments, the attempt at emotional depth amidst a silly plot and bad songs is strained. Little kids like it.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

17. The BFG (2016)
> IMDb rating: 6.4
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 57
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $211.4 million
> Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement

A dream weaving giant and a little girl take on a tribe of bullying, child-eating giants with help from the Queen of England. Beginning with a Roald Dahl story, this movie had everything going for it: Stephen Spielberg directing, music by John Williams, and the star power of Mark Rylance–to say nothing of the stunning art-realism animation developed by Disney. The BFG should have been more magical, more edgy, and more fun than it was.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

16. Pocahontas (1995)
> IMDb rating: 6.7
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 64
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $730.9 million
> Starring: Mel Gibson, Linda Hunt, Christian Bale, Joe Baker

A popular success and a critical bust, this film mythologizes the historic intervention of a young Native American girl to save a British settler from her powerful father’s wrath. The heros are handsome and sensitive, the villains are snarly and soft, and the Princess has the face and figure of a 1950’s pin-up. The best thing that can be said about the Disney version is that the music is great.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

15. A Christmas Carol (2009)
> IMDb rating: 6.8
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 58
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $385.6 million
> Starring: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Steve Valentine

The 3-D realism may be impressive technology, but it robs the story of emotion. Scrooge’s greed isn’t ugly enough, the ghosts aren’t frightening enough, and Christmas does not feel joyful. Even the brilliant cast couldn’t bring the animation to life.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

14. Oliver & Company (1988)
> IMDb rating: 6.7
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 62
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $110.5 million
> Starring: Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, Richard Mulligan

Even when the plot has only a loose basis in a classic novel, and is relocated to a different time and place, there is something disconcerting about cartoon animals playing some of literature’s most famous people. In this case, Oliver Twist is a kitten and the Artful Dodger is a mongrel dog, while Fagin and the ultimate bad guy, Bill Sykes, are the much less adorable humans.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

13. Dinosaur (2000)
> IMDb rating: 6.5
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 48
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $605.3 million
> Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Julianna Margulies, Samuel E. Wright, Alfre Woodard

Dinosaur was praised for its eye-popping 3-D computer animation in combination with live action backgrounds filmed in exotic locations. Unfortunately, the story is like every other friendly dinosaur versus nasty dinosaur plot, with an anachronistic Disney twist: the hero, an orphaned iguanodon, is raised from an egg by a cute family of lemurs.

Source: Courtesy of Disney Corporation

12. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
> IMDb rating: 6.9
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 53
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $301.6 million
> Starring: Michael J. Fox, Jim Varney, Corey Burton, Claudia Christian

Atlantis represents a break from the Disney musical, and a change to a more comic book visual style. It is also Disney’s first science fiction movie, an original tale about a nerdy linguist leading an expedition to find the lost island of Atlantis. He succeeds, of course, and also finds Atlantis natives who share secrets of longevity. They are spared destruction when our hero impales his mutinous commander with a crystal sword.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

11. Brother Bear (2003)
> IMDb rating: 6.8
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 65
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $380.4 million
> Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Rick Moranis, Jason Raize

An undistinguished followup to the Lion King, Brother Bear is another coming of age in the wild story. An Inuit boy, Kenai, is turned into a bear by the spirits, becomes friends with a real bear, and redeems himself for causing the death of his brother, Sitka, who, with Disney irony, had been mauled by a bear.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

10. Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)
> IMDb rating: 5.9
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 54
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $223.8 million
> Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith, Ashley Jensen

Shakespeare’s most famous lovers provided the inspiration for this silly comedy in which colorful gnomes and other usually inanimate lawn and garden regulars carry on a raucous feud between suburban lots. Spoiler: these lovers live happily ever after.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

9. The Black Cauldron (1985)
> IMDb rating: 6.4
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 48
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $54.9 million
> Starring: Grant Bardsley, Freddie Jones, Susan Sheridan, Nigel Hawthorne

Based on novels by Lloyd Alexander that expanded on Welsh myths, “The Black Cauldron” represents many firsts for Disney animated features: the first use of Dolby sound, the first use of computer generated imagery, and the first PG rating. It was also the most expensive animated film the studio produced until that date, but was a major box office flop.

Source: Courtesy of GKIDS

8. Tales from Earthsea (2006)
> IMDb rating: 6.4
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 46
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: No data available
> Starring: Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe, Mariska Hargitay, Jun’ichi Okada

Based loosely on Ursula LaGuin’s Earthsea series of novels, this tale of dragons, wizards, and doppelgangers was produced in Japan’s award-winning Studio Ghibli for Japanese audiences. A popular hit in Japan, but with mixed critical acclaim, it had limited distribution in America. LaGuin distanced herself.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

7. Cars 2 (2011)
> IMDb rating: 6.1
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 49
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $647.0 million
> Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer

A less than mediocre followup to the only somewhat popular Cars movie, “Cars 2” takes its internal combustion heroes to Europe to battle spies and cheating rivals. The lowest rated Pixar movie on the Rotten Tomatoes website, “Car 2” was the first Pixar movie to receive no Oscar nominations.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

6. Chicken Little (2005)
> IMDb rating: 5.7
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 47
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $443.1 million
> Starring: Zach Braff, Joan Cusack, Garry Marshall, Don Knotts

Here the piece of falling sky comes from an alien spaceship, happily piloted by friendly beings who ultimately apologize for wreaking havoc. As Disney’s first 3-D digital feature, “Chicken Little,” though considered banal by critics, lifted Disney out of the slump represented by “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” “Brother Bear,” “Home on the Range,” and a remake of “Fantasia.”

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

5. Home on the Range (2004)
> IMDb rating: 5.4
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 29
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $112.8 million
> Starring: Judi Dench, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jennifer Tilly, Randy Quaid

Three cows save the farm from rustlers in this animated musical comedy western. Though they were voiced by an all-star cast, the bovines and their cartoon livestock pals were universally panned for their weak story, lack of wit, and uninspiring music.

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

4. Planes (2013)
> IMDb rating: 5.7
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 49
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $268.2 million
> Starring: Carlos Alazraqui, Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett

Planes is a spin-off from the Cars franchise, with it’s animated motor-driven, main characters racing, fighting personal demons, and, against all odds, beating the bad guys. Originally intended to go directly from the studio to home video, most critics thought it should have stayed on that path. Still, audiences seemed to like it.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

3. Mars Needs Moms (2011)
> IMDb rating: 5.4
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 40
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $45.7 million
> Starring: Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler, Elisabeth Harnois

Using motion-capture technology, “Mars Needs Moms” tells a story about a boy, unhappy with the rules imposed by his mother, finding himself desperately trying to save her when Martians carry her off to teach their nanny-bots the art of child discipline. Audiences stayed away, making this Disney’s most money-losing movie of all time.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

2. Valiant (2005)
> IMDb rating: 5.5
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 29
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $91.7 million
> Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent

Though distributed by Disney, “Valiant” was independently produced by animators in Great Britain, operating on a small budget. The story features a motley crew of homing pigeons outwitting the Nazis in a mission that ensures that the Normandy invasion will succeed. The story was considered unimaginative by the critics, but the voice talent was praised.

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

1. The Wild (2006)
> IMDb rating: 5.2
> Rotten tomatoes audience score: 36
> Worldwide ticket sales, adjusted for inflation: $138.5 million
> Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Jim Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo

A band of wild animals is released from the zoo and sets off for the wild, where misadventures have them heading back to New York. “The Wild” was widely panned for its derivative plot, patchwork of well-worn themes, oddly humanized animals, and Disney tropes.

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