Everyone loves a good movie, and at Bird Cages Now we especially appreciate movies that revolve around our avian friends. Last week the team here was brainstorming about our favorite bird movies of all-time, and as a fun tangent we decided to look up and make a list of the ten highest grossing movies about birds.
The Selection Criteria
The list below is mainly comprised of movies released after 2000 but also includes a special classic from before the turn of the 21st century. The films are mostly animated since apparently many people appreciate a good cartoon bird :) These movies all feature a bird as one of the main characters or as part of the story-line, so titles such as Robin Williams' The Birdcage did not make the cut.
The numbers shown below are the Gross totals from US box offices as compiled from www.imdb.com. Not every film had worldwide totals readily available so we used the American box office as our primary ranking factor. All numbers were retrieved from same source at IMDb for consistency.
The top 5 movies each brought in over $100 million to US theaters and the combined total of all 10 movies is over $1 billion! Time to find out the biggest blockbuster bird movies of all time, here we go!
#1 - Happy Feet (2006) - $198,000,317
Topping our list with a gross box office total just shy of $200 million, this film is easily the biggest blockbuster bird movie of all-time. This animated film has quite the star-studded cast consisting of the voice talent of household names such as Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Brittany Murphy, and Nicole Kidman.
No wonder it won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture in 2007, as well as numerous other awards and nominations!
Riding on the coattails of March of the Penguins (#6 below) released the previous year, this movie features a cute story about an Emperor penguin without a singing voice but with plenty of dance moves. A must-see movie, especially for anyone with two left feet that wants to learn to tap dance!
#2 - Rio (2011) - $143,619,809
This movie features a bird species familiar to most bird enthusiasts: a macaw parrot. The main character, Blu, is a blue macaw parrot that gets smuggled from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to the US and later gets taken back to Brazil where he gets stolen again!
With an A-list cast and produced by the makers of Ice Age, this movie received an Oscar nomination and was a candidate for many other awards.
#3 - Chicken Little (2006) - $135,381,507
Another family-friendly flick, this film is about a little chicken that loses respect after thinking the sky is falling. Chicken Little is joined by his group of misfit friends the Ugly Duckling, Runt of the Litter, and Fish Out of Water, who help him try to save the world from an alien invasion.
#4 - Rio 2 (2014) - $131,020,633
Released 3 years after it's predecessor Rio (#2 above), Rio 2 features the adventures of Blu the macaw, his wife, and children in the Amazon jungle. With many of the same cast providing the voice talent in this sequel, it came close to matching the first Rio in the box office.
#5 - Chicken Run (2000) - $106,793,915
Rounding out the top 5 and the last film on the list to gross over $100 million is Chicken Run. This movie is about a chicken farm where the chickens plot to escape before being turned into chicken pot pie.
Nominated for a Golden Globe (and how couldn't it be with Mel Gibson voicing the lead rooster??) and released at the turn of the century, this is the oldest movie on our top 10 list.
#6 - March of the Penguins (2005) - $77,413,017
This stunning documentary about emperor penguins captured the hearts of audiences everywhere and is the only non-animated film on the list.
With the soothing voice of Morgan Freeman leading the narration, it is no wonder that March of the Penguins won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2005 (and numerous other awards). The popularity of this film is invariably led to the success of Happy Feet at the top of the list.
Follow along as you see how these penguins must traverse the rough climate of Antarctica and march miles upon miles to get back to the open water. Both the males and females take alternating turns tending to the egg and going back to the ocean to feed. This is no easy process as the penguins are continuously subjected to the harsh elements as well as lurking predators.
#7 - Happy Feet 2 (2011) - $63,992,328
While not quite the success of its predecessor which earned over triple the box office sales in the US, the sequel Happy Feet 2 still performed well with another start-studded cast. Mumble, the Master of Tap from the first Happy Feet has a son that is choreo-phobic and admires Sven, a penguin that can fly!
#8 - Surf's Up (2007) - $58,867,694
Rounding out the quartet of penguin movies on the list is Surf's Up. It follows the documentary format of March of the Penguins to follow the life of a surfing penguin named Cody Maverick from the appropriately named town of Shiverpool, Antarctica. Cody is determined to win a surfing competition in honor of his hero Big Z. This fun movie will inspire you to get your surf on!
#9 - Free Birds (2013) - $55,747,724
Under the tagline of "the best turkey movie of all time," Free Birds shows the quest of two turkeys to save their fellow gobblers from the dinner table at Thanksgiving. Turkey heroes Reggie and Jake travel back in time to the early 1600s to try to alter the course of history at Plymouth colony. Their goal is to remove turkeys from the first Thanksgiving to save them from every following Thanksgiving.
#10 - Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010) - $55,673,333
The only movie featuring nocturnal birds, The Owls of Ga'Hoole rounds out the top 10 of our list. The story depicts a barn owl, Soren, who gets kidnapped by the owls at an orphanage where the young owls are brainwashed into becoming soldiers. Soren and his friends escape to join the legendary guardians to fight back against the rising army.
Honorable Mention: The Birds (1963) - $11,403,529
This classic Alfred Hitchcock horror movie still haunts my mom and many others who watched it as young kids. At first, our list was only going to include 10 movies, but we couldn't make a bird movie list without including this iconic film :)
This horror flick depicts flocks of attacking birds of all species causing panic and terror on the town of Bodega Bay, California. The birds attack, then retreat, then attack again without reason and without stopping. These birds are relentless and couldn't even be stopped by the strongest stainless steel cage!
Time for a Movie Night!
We hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as we enjoyed researching and writing it for you! The next time you are in the mood for some surround sound and popcorn, watch one of the movies above and see if it is as good as the box office numbers say!
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