You May Think These Treasured Animations Were Made By Disney – But You’d Be Wrong

Disney is such a powerhouse that we tend to think that every animation that makes it into cinemas has emerged from the home of Mickey, Donald and co. That’s particularly true with those lovingly hand-drawn cartoons that were the norm before Pixar came into the picture. But here’s a look at 40 films you might well be surprised to learn were actually the brainchild of other studios.

40. Turbo

Pixar’s Cars isn’t the only CGI animation to focus on a quest to win a world-famous automobile race. But instead of a flashy vehicle, DreamWorks’ Turbo put a snail in pole position. Yes, the 2013 box office hit sees Ryan Reynolds voice an everyday garden critter who, thanks to a bizarre mishap, gets the chance to enter the Indy 500.

39. Charlotte’s Web

When we were little kids, most of us probably enjoyed reading EB White’s heart-warming story about a spider and a farm pig who become pals. But it wasn’t Disney who managed to transfer its many charms from the page to the screen. In fact, it took three different studios – Paramount Pictures, Sagittarius Productions and Hanna-Barbera Productions – to make 1973’s Charlotte’s Web such a classic.

38. Bee Movie

Bee Movie might just well be the most meme-friendly animated movie of all time. That’s right, a whole host of creative internet users have helped to extend the 2007 box office hit’s legacy in the social media age. Boasting the voice of Jerry Seinfeld, the DreamWorks film centers on a young bee who takes legal action against the human race after learning about our fondness for honey.

37. Cats Don’t Dance

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Cats Don’t Dance didn’t exactly set the box office alight when it hit cinemas in 1997. But there’s still plenty to admire about Turner Feature Animation’s only big-screen release. Set in pre-war Los Angeles, the nostalgic tale sees a bunch of animals fight for their rights to be heard and not just seen in front of the camera. It’s a vibrant and intriguing animation that also features toe-tapping tunes from Toy Story favorite Randy Newman.

36. The Iron Giant

You could be forgiven for thinking that The Iron Giant was an underrated Disney gem. After all, it was helmed by the man synonymous with Pixar, The Incredibles and Ratatouille director Brad Bird. But the story of a massive robot who hails from another planet was actually the work of Warner Brothers Animation.

35. The Prince of Egypt

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After leaving Disney Animation in acrimonious circumstances, Jeffrey Katzenberg had his revenge by creating unarguably its biggest rival. DreamWorks SKG’s first hand-drawn cartoon was a biblical epic which more than matched the Mouse House’s usual scope. The Prince of Egypt’s depiction of Exodus was a huge hit at the box office. And it also spawned an Oscar-winning duet between Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.

34. The Secret of NIMH

Former Disney artist Don Bluth was undoubtedly the studio’s fiercest competitor in the 1980s. And the first venture from his own eponymous production company was an adaptation of Robert C O’Brien’s classic children’s tale. The Secret of NIMH sees the mother of an ill mouse turn to a group of rats for help. Part of the budget also came from a company formed by three other Disney graduates: Aurora Productions.

33. The Thief and the Cobbler

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Richard Williams began crafting The Thief and the Cobbler long before his pioneering contributions to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And the legendary animator spent so much time on his labor of love that in the end, Warner Bros. decided to offload its production to another studio. Set in a golden city under threat from an army of monsters, the unlikely romance between a princess and shoemaker finally saw the light of day in 1993 thanks to Allied Filmmakers.

32. Home

Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna made the leap from the charts to CGI animation in 2015 when they provided voices for Home. The DreamWorks hit sees a young girl attempt to escape an extra-terrestrial invasion of Earth by joining forces with a fugitive who just happens to be one of those pesky aliens himself. Both pop superstars also contributed to the soundtrack of the cutesy kids’ favorite.

31. We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story

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Founded by Steven Spielberg, Amblimation Studio was behind the curious We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story. Released in the same year as the iconic filmmaker’s Jurassic Park, the curious mish-mash of time travel, aliens and giant extinct creatures didn’t quite have the same impact. But with its infectious songs, handsomely drawn animation and a diverse voice cast including John Goodman, Julia Child and Walter Cronkite, it still holds more than enough appeal.

30. All Dogs Go to Heaven

Non-Disney animations don’t get much more tear-jerking than 1989’s All Dogs Go to Heaven. Just its title alone is enough to get canine lovers blubbing. Produced by Goldcrest Films International and Sullivan Bluth Studios, the story follows a murdered German Shepherd whose ghost forms a valuable friendship with an orphaned child, learning various life lessons along the way. And it reportedly became one of the 1990s most successful VHS releases.

29. Ferngully: The Last Rainforest

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You could say that 20th Century Fox’s Ferngully: The Last Rainforest was way ahead of its time. Its environmentally conscious narrative would no doubt have connected more in an era when climate change continually dominates the headlines. Helmed by former Disney artist Bill Kroyer, the 1992 tale sees a group of fairies fight to protect their natural habitat from the destruction wrought by humans.

28. The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn is widely considered to be one of the most distinctive non-Disney animations ever to reach the screen. Released in 1982, this brainchild of Rankin/Bass Productions is a faithful adaptation of Peter S Beagle’s classic children’s story. That means we get gorgeously drawn pirate moggies, drunk skeletons and musical butterflies. And it means we’re subjected to a whole host of powerful emotions, too.

27. Hop

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While Christmas cartoons are ten-a-penny, the other big Christian holiday is under-represented. But Universal Pictures put that right in 2011 with the release of Hop. The colorful tale sees the son of the Easter Bunny take to the bright lights of Los Angeles to pursue his musical dreams. There he meets James Marsden’s drop-out in a mixture of madcap live-action and bouncy CGI animation.

26. An American Tail

Universal Pictures’ An American Tail didn’t just outperform Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective at the box office in 1986. It also became the most successful animation outside of the Mouse House ever. Directed by the prolific Don Bluth, the charming story follows the fortunes of a Russian mouse who must find his mom and dad after getting lost during their journey to America.

25. Open Season

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A 900-pound tame bear named Boog is the unlikely star of Sony Pictures Animation’s Open Season. Alongside a loquacious deer, the gigantic hero makes it his mission to save his woodland home from human hunters. Released in 2006, the touching tale counts Martin Lawrence, Gary Sinise and Ashton Kutcher among its talented voice cast.

24. The Swan Princess

From Cinderella and Snow White to Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, Disney has always excelled when it comes to princess stories. So it’s little surprise that Rich Animation Studios and Nest Family Entertainment’s 1995 hit is often mistaken for a Mouse House classic. A loose adaptation of the ballet Swan Lake, The Swan Princess is the tale of a young woman who’s transformed into a water bird by an evil wizard.

23. Horton Hears a Who!

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After starring as the titular scrooge in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Jim Carrey once again ventured into the madcap world of Dr. Seuss in this 2008 animation. This time around, though, audiences could only hear the rubber-faced comedian’s voice. Carrey plays an elephant who desperately tries to save the tiny settlement whose existence is denied by the rest of his Whoville hometown.

22. A Troll in Central Park

A Troll in Central Park is perhaps one of the legendary Don Bluth’s lesser-known works. It’s also one of his shortest. But it still manages to pack plenty of charm into its 76-minute running time. This 1994 release sees Candid Camera host Dom DeLuise voice a kindly troll exiled to the Big Apple by a villainous queen, where he subsequently forges a friendship with a pair of kids.

21. Balto

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Kevin Bacon, Bridget Fonda and the late Bob Hoskins are just a few of the famous faces who lent their voices to this 1995 animation. Balto also had some considerable star power behind the scenes. The story of an Alaskan husky who guides a pack of sled dogs hundreds of miles on a life-saving mission was produced with Universal Pictures by Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation.

20. Rio

The 2011 box office hit Rio managed to land the voice talents of two Academy Award winners: Jamie Foxx and Anne Hathaway. But it’s Jesse Eisenberg who really takes center stage in the 20th Century Fox CGI movie. The Social Network star plays Blu, a Minnesotan macaw who flies to the Brazilian capital alongside his dream bird.

19. The Pagemaster

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Macaulay Culkin was coming to the end of his adorable child star phase in 1994. So it was perhaps a wise move to quickly turn him into a cartoon character for Turner Pictures and 20th Century Fox’s live-action/animation The Pagemaster. The Home Alone star plays a wimp who must find his inner strength if he’s to escape from the illustrated literary world he’s been transported to.

18. Quest for Camelot

Almost 25 years after Disney released The Sword in the Stone, Warner Bros. got in on the Arthurian action with Quest for Camelot. A dashing recluse, a spirited aspiring knight and a wacky twin-headed dragon are the key ingredients in this 1998 release. Alongside all the swashbuckling, there are also vocal performances from Celine Dion, Andrea Corr and Journey’s Steve Perry.

17. Thumbelina

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In 1994 Don Bluth once again worked his magic to bring classic children’s character Thumbelina back to life. The veteran animator’s adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson story boasts the voice talent of Gilbert Gottfried, Carol Channing and John Hurt. And it sees the diminutive title character embark on a romance while doing battle with a whole host of creepy crawlies.

16. The Book of Life

Produced by 20th Century Fox and Reel FX Creative Studios, The Book of Life grossed nearly $100 million at the worldwide box office on its 2014 release. Not a bad figure considering the CGI hit has a slightly more ghoulish setting than most kid-friendly animations. It takes place on the Day of the Dead when at his mom and dad’s behest, a young bullfighter willingly ventures into the afterlife.

15. Once Upon a Forest

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Co-funded by Hanna-Barbera Productions, Once Upon a Forest rivals Ferngully: The Last Rainforest as the most environmentally friendly animation of the 1990s. Featuring a cast that includes Broadway veteran Michael Crawford and a young Elisabeth Moss, its story involves three woodland creatures attempting to save their sickly badger pal. Sadly, though, audiences in 1993 didn’t get on board with its green themes and the movie bombed at the box office.

14. The Pebble and the Penguin

Martin Short voicing an adorable, shy penguin who attempts to impress his ideal mate with a pebble? What’s not to love? Don Bluth continued to add to his treasure trove of animated favorites with this 1995 tale. But The Pebble and the Penguin would also be the final release before his company filed for bankruptcy.

13. The Road to El Dorado

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DreamWorks Animation has become synonymous with CGI franchises such as Shrek and Madagascar. But in its early years it also dabbled in hand-drawn animation, as in The Road to El Dorado. Directed by Bibo Bergeron, the 2000 release centers on two Spanish charlatans who are confused for deities by the local population during a quest to find a golden city.

12. Titan A.E.

Titan A.E. offered an alternative to the damsels in distress who typically dominated Disney’s animated fare. Its heroine Akima was a gung-ho pilot and was more than capable of keeping up with the boys. The second, and sadly last, film produced by Fox Animation also combined CGI and hand-drawn techniques. And it boasted a star-studded cast including Matt Damon and Drew Barrymore.

11. Rock-a-Doodle

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Bookended by live-action sequences, Rock-a-Doodle was another attempt by Don Bluth to rival the all-conquering Disney. The musical 1991 release surely features one of the iconic animator’s most unusual storylines. After turning into a kitten, a farmer’s young son gets together with neighboring creatures to search for a rock-star chicken whose remarkable powers can thwart an evil owl!

10. Ice Age

Ice Age has been one of the most popular franchises since CGI overtook hand-drawn as the animated style of choice. Based on the glacial adventures of a woolly mammoth, sloth and saber-tooth tiger, the original movie became a box office smash in 2002. But while its characters may seem very Disney, the studio responsible is actually 20th Century Fox.

9. The Trumpet of the Swan

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The Trumpet of the Swan may well be one of the most unfamiliar films on Reese Witherspoon’s resume. TriStar Pictures’ 2001 adaptation of the EB White children’s story only received a limited cinema release. The Oscar winner was joined in the cast by Mary Steenburgen, Jason Alexander and Dee Bradley Baker, with the latter playing a mute swan who discovers his vocal cords after being presented with a trumpet.

8. Stuart Little

Stuart Little is one of the more successful movies to combine cutting-edge animation with real-life action. Voiced by Michael J Fox, the titular talking rodent becomes part of a human household in the adorable 1999 tale. And although the plot sounds like it came from the Mouse House, it was actually a collaboration between Global Medien KG, Franklin/Waterman Productions and Columbia Pictures Corporation.

7. Robots

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The 20th Century Fox Animation brand continued to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with 2005’s Robots. This CGI box office hit centers on a fledgling inventor who’s tested after joining a major firm that he soon discovers has villainous intentions. And as its title suggests, each and every character is of the robotic kind.

6. The King and I

This collaboration between Rankin/Bass Productions, Morgan Creek Entertainment and Nest Family Entertainment was the second adaptation of Margaret Landon’s Anna and the King of Siam to hit cinemas in 1999. But the Jodie Foster-starring live-action Anna and the King was the more successful, despite the animated retelling being the first out of the blocks.

5. Storks

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In Warner Bros. Animation’s 2016 hit, babies really are delivered by storks. Well, they were. Now the long-necked birds are busy giving Amazon a run for their money with their super-speedy distribution center. After two of its most promising recruits accidentally produce a little tot, the CGI cartoon becomes a race against time to find the youngster’s real family.

4. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

DreamWorks tried to make their own Black Beauty in 2002 with the heart-warming story of a captive stallion. Academy Award winner Matt Damon provides the voice for the titular character who dreams of being let loose to reunite with his friends and family. Also boasting some pristine animation, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron pulled in more than $122 million at the box office.

3. Over the Hedge

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DreamWorks Animation continued their run of hits in 2006 with this wildlife adventure featuring the voice talents of Bruce Willis and Garry Shandling. The former plays a devious raccoon who tricks his animal neighbors into coming to his aid. Of course, this being a kids’ animation and all, he soon begins to understand that scheming doesn’t pay.

2. The Land Before Time

The Land Before Time was undoubtedly an emotionally scarring VHS staple for anyone who grew up in the early 1990s. Another brainchild of one-man animated powerhouse Don Bluth, the dinosaur adventure was funded in conjunction with several other studios by Universal Pictures. It also kick-started a franchise that would spawn more than a dozen spin-offs.

1. Anastasia

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In 1997 Fox Animation Studios took a very dark real-life tale and turned it into a magical princess fable bursting with color and Broadway-friendly musical numbers. Inspired by the mysterious disappearance of an early 20th century grand duchess, Anastasia boasts the voice talents of Meg Ryan, John Cusack and Christopher Lloyd. And it deservedly became one of the biggest non-Disney cartoons of the decade.

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