If there’s any doubt that Universal’s Illumination Entertainment is the new powerhouse of animation, allow this record-breaking set of news to seal the deal: The “Despicable Me” franchise has officially surpassed DreamWorks’ “Shrek” to become the highest grossing animated franchise in history. What’s particularly impressive about this feat is that “Despicable Me” managed to make history in just four films, while “Shrek” needed five movies.
The “Despicable Me” series is made up of the original movie and its two sequels, plus the spinoff “Minions” movie. The latter is the second-highest grossing animated movie in history worldwide with a gross of $1.1 billion, which also makes it the most successful Universal movie ever released. “Despicable Me 2” ranks sixth with just over $970 million worldwide. The franchise started in 2010 and has made $3.528 billion to date. “Shrek” topped out at $3.51 billion after “Puss in Boots” in 2011, though a new movie is coming in 2019.
“Despicable Me 3” opened this summer and was the key factor in helping Illumination beat DreamWorks for the top spot. The movie currently stands at $870.4 million worldwide and should have no problem eclipsing the $900 million when its run in theaters is over. With “Minions 2” already in development and set for 2020, the franchise should be able to hold on to the #1 position for quite some time.