With Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero topping the box office last weekend, here are the 10 highest-grossing anime films at the North American box office. After only a few days in cinemas, Super Hero already ranks #6 on the list below. While the #1 spot is almost certainly out of reach, #2 is potentially in play if the film has legs.
Note: dollar amounts below only include a film’s original release, excluding subsequent re-releases, and are not adjusted for ticket price inflation.
Pokémon: The First Movie (1999)
$85.7M Domestic Total
$31.0M Domestic Opening Weekend (after opening on a Wednesday)
$50.7M 5-Day Opening
Date of widest release: November 12, 1999
Number of theaters: 3,043
At Pokémon’s peak period as a cultural phenomenon, the popular trading cards and television show received the theatrical film treatment. Protagonist Ash Ketchum, along with his friends Misty and Brock, try to stop a new creature, a supercharged clone of the cat-like Pokémon (Pocket Monster) Mew named Mewtwo.
Warner Bros. released the title in November 1999 to a first place debut of $31.0M, and that was with its opening weekend number deflated by a midweek Wednesday opening. That $31.0M number is so impressive that the figure alone would make it the #3 title on this list.
Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (2021)
$49.5M Domestic Total
$21.2M Domestic Opening Weekend
Date of widest release: May 8, 2021 (during its third weekend)
Number of theaters: 2,087
Based on the manga series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotouge and the anime television series of the same name, the story takes place in 1920s Japan and follows a boy named Tanjiro Kamado who has to (what else?) slay demons aboard a train where dozens of passengers have gone missing.
Opening in April 2021 as the box office was re-emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, FUNimation Entertainment’s film opened in second place behind Mortal Kombat. But in a rare box office occurrence, Train actually rose to first place in its sophomore frame.
(FUNimation rebranded as Crunchyroll in 2022.)
Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (2000)
$43.7M Domestic Total
$19.5M Domestic Opening Weekend
Date of widest release: July 21, 2000
Number of theaters: 2,752
Warner Bros.’ sequel earned just more than half of its predecessor, but the franchise was still lucrative enough that it earns the bronze medal spot on this list. In this installment, Ash Ketchum and his friends try to stop an evil collector from capturing a large bird-like Pokémon named Lugia.
One of several films that year attempting to capitalize on public fascination with the new millennium in their titles, including Fantasia 2000 and Dracula 2000, the film opened in July 2000 to a third place debut of $19.5M, behind What Lies Beneath and holdover X-Men.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019)
$30.7M Domestic Total
$9.8M Domestic Opening Weekend (after opening on a Wednesday)
$20.2M 5-Day Opening
Date of widest release: January 24, 2019 (its second Thursday)
Number of theaters: 1,267
The Dragon Ball franchise was launched in 1984, but arguably first achieved mass popularity in the U.S. during the late ’90s and early 2000s with an English dub version of the television series on Cartoon Network. FUNimation’s film follows the martial artist Goku taking on the titular villain Broly.
Debuting on a Wednesday in January 2019, the film actually came in first place on both that Wednesday and Thursday, by a particularly substantial margin on the Wednesday. While it failed to continue that first-place streak on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, it still earned a $20.2M five-day opening.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie (2022)
$29.6M Domestic Total
$14.8M Domestic Opening Weekend
Date of widest release: March 25, 2022 (its second weekend)
Number of theaters: 2,418
Based on the manga by Gege Akutami, the film follows teenager Yuta Okkotsu as he uses magic, including controlling the spirit of his deceased childhood friend, to fight creatures from the spirit realm. This was the first theatrical release under the rebranded Crunchyroll brand, formerly FUNimation.
Opening with $18.0M in March 2022, the title started in second place behind holdover The Batman.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022)
$22.6M Domestic Total, as of this writing (and counting)
$21.1M Domestic Opening Weekend
Date of widest release: August 19, 2022
Number of theaters: 3,018
Crunchyroll’s sequel follows Gohan, the son of the protagonist Goku from Dragon Ball Super: Broly, as he attempts to defeat a group called the Red Ribbon Army.
The film debuted in first place in August 2022 with $21.1M, easily defeating the frame’s other debut Beast, even though the two films were forecasted in pre-release projections to open about equally.
Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Movie (2004)
$19.7M Domestic Total
$9.4M Domestic Opening Weekend
Date of widest release: August 13, 2004
Number of theaters: 2,411
Based on the manga series by Kazuki Takahashi and subsequent anime television series plus trading card game, Warner Bros.’ film follows the impossibly-haired Yugi Mutou on his quest to defeat an evil spirit named Anubis.
Opening in August 2004, the film opened with $9.4M in fourth place, behind openers Alien vs. Predator and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagment, plus holdover Collateral.
The Secret World of Arrietty (2012)
$19.2M Domestic Total
$6.4M Domestic Opening Weekend
Date of widest release: February 17, 2012
Number of theaters: 1,522
One of two titles on this list distributed by Disney domestically, after originally being animated by Japan-based Studio Ghibli, follows a tiny family called “the borrowers” including the titular girl Arrietty, who live underneath the floors of a human-sized family. The English dub included such celebrity voices as Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, and Will Arnett.
Pokémon 3: The Movie (2001)
$17.0M Domestic Total
$8.2M Domestic Opening Weekend
Date of widest release: April 6, 2001
Number of theaters: 2,675
Warner Bros.’ three-quel would be the last major Pokémon film released theatrically in the U.S. until 2019’s live-action Detective Pikachu. (2002’s Pokémon Heroes was also released domestically but only peaked at 200 theaters, compared to 3,000+ for 1999’s original movie, and earned less than $1M.)
In 3, a group of Pokémon called the Unown (as it “unknown”) kidnap protagonist Ash’s mother. The April 2001 release debuted in fourth place with $8.2M, behind holdover Spy Kids and new openers Along Came a Spider and Blow.
$15.0M Domestic Total
$3.5M Domestic Opening Weekend
Date of widest release: August 14, 2009
Number of theaters: 927
Ponyo is the only entry on this list directed by Hayao Miyazaki, often considered the greatest anime director of all time, with four of the top-200 rated movies of all time by IMDb users: Spirited Away (#31), Princess Mononoke (#79), Howl’s Moving Castle (#164), and My Neighbor Totoro (#172).
Disney domestically distributed the tale of five-year-old boy Sōsuke and his pet fish Ponyo who turns into a human girl, who can also do magic. The English dub included such A-list names as Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Lily Tomlin, and Betty White.