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Best Disney princess movies

  • Best Disney princess movies

    Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest ranking of them all? Disney princess movies are as much a pop culture staple as they are a collection of films, with early princess stories like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella," and "Sleeping Beauty" establishing a formula that later princess stories would both reference and reject.

    Starting in 1937 with "Snow White," Disney's first feature-length animated film and a cultural phenomenon, the Mouse House has drawn on princesses in every era of its storied history. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty joined Snow White to form a group of critically acclaimed, artistically stunning princess movies in the 1950s. Princesses contributed mightily to Disney's revival—"The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "Pocahontas," and "Mulan" helped fuel the studio's triumphant return to box office domination starting in 1989.

    The 21st century saw the rise of the meta-princess, with 2007's "Enchanted," 2009's "The Princess and the Frog," and 2010's "Tangled" featuring heroines rejecting the traditional princess narrative and charting their lives with much more agency than those of past princesses, sometimes without a prince at all. The trend reached a pinnacle with 2013's "Frozen," which eschewed the princess narrative to enormous box office ends and became as much of a cultural force as the most successful princess movies of the past.

    But those earlier princesses left such an indelible mark on the culture that Disney went back to the well with a series of live-action remakes, starting with 2015's "Cinderella," followed by "Beauty and the Beast" and now, "Mulan." Coming full circle, "Snow White" will be also be receiving the live-action treatment.

    With more than 80 years of work to draw on, and in honor of the release of the live-action remake of "Mulan," Stacker ranked every stand-alone movie released by Disney that features a princess character or is in the princess canon, from 1937's “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to 2019's “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”—a sequel to a modern spin-off revisionist take on the classic "Sleeping Beauty." Using data from IMDb user scores, with number of votes breaking any ties, this list also includes the sequels, prequels, and spin-offs that came from the success of the originals.

    This ranking goes beyond what might be considered the animated and classic princess-sphere, and includes movies like “Into the Woods” and “The Princess Diaries,” which also feature royalty and are Disney creations, but are not “Disney princesses” in the traditional sense. On the flip side, Mulan is not a princess—she is not the daughter or a king, nor does she marry a prince—but is included in Disney's princess franchise, and is included on this list. The new live-action "Mulan" does not have enough IMDb rankings, and so is omitted.

    Read on to see where your favorite falls in the rankings.

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  • #31. Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998)

    - Directors: Tom Ellery, Bradley Raymond
    - IMDb user rating: 4.9
    - Votes: 13,558
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 72 min

    Picking up where the original film leaves off, “Pocahontas 2” sees Powhatan’s daughter journey to England with her animal companions Meeko, Flit, and Percy. The character John Smith is voiced by Donal Gibson, the younger brother of Mel Gibson, who voiced John Smith in the original film.

  • #30. Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2001)

    - Director: John Kafka
    - IMDb user rating: 5.0
    - Votes: 10,283
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 73 min

    Narrated by Cinderella’s mouse friends, Jaq and Gus, “Cinderella II” tells the story of how Cinderella becomes a princess but loses touch with herself. Brooke Allison received two DVD Exclusive Award nominations for Best Original Song for “Follow Your Heart” and “Put it Together (Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo).”

  • #29. Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams (2007)

    - Director: David Block
    - IMDb user rating: 5.2
    - Votes: 330
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 56 min

    This Disney princess film is a compilation of short stories about Aurora (“Sleeping Beauty”) and Jasmine (“Aladdin”). It was originally intended to be part of a larger series of “Disney Princess Enchanted Tales,” but the plans were scrapped after the release of “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” in 2008.

  • #28. Belle's Magical World (1998)

    - Directors: Bob Kline, Cullen Blaine, Dale Case, Daniel de la Vega, Barbara Dourmaskin-Case, Rick Leon, Burt Medall, Mitch Rochon
    - IMDb user rating: 5.3
    - Votes: 2,529
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 92 min

    Paige O’Hara, the original voice of Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” reprises her role in this sequel to the 1991 film. The 1998 movie is divided into three chapters that include two original songs and are intended to teach children lessons about love, kindness, and forgiveness.

  • #27. The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)

    - Directors: Jim Kammerud, Brian Smith
    - IMDb user rating: 5.6
    - Votes: 17,038
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 75 min

    Ariel’s daughter Melody is forbidden from entering the ocean for fear that she will encounter a sea witch, but when she turns 12, she runs away to the sea. Ariel must turn back into a mermaid to rescue her daughter from Ursula’s clutches with the help of her friends. Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula in the original film, returns as the voice of Ariel’s sister Morgana in this direct-to-DVD film.

  • #26. Mulan II (2004)

    - Directors: Darrell Rooney, Lynne Southerland
    - IMDb user rating: 5.7
    - Votes: 21,464
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 79 min

    Mulan and husband-to-be Shang encounter obstacles on the way to their wedding in this sequel to the action-packed 1998 film “Mulan.” World champion ice skater and Olympic silver medalist Michelle Kwan is featured as the voice of the shopkeeper in the village.

  • #25. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)

    - Director: Garry Marshall
    - IMDb user rating: 5.8
    - Votes: 72,489
    - Metascore: 43
    - Runtime: 113 min

    This Garry Marshall-directed sequel to the well-received “Princess Diaries” starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews was released in theaters in August 2004. Unlike many of the films on this list so far, which were direct-to-DVD sequels, “The Princess Diaries 2” enjoyed box office success, taking in more than $100 million worldwide.

  • #24. Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time (2007)

    - Director: Frank Nissen
    - IMDb user rating: 5.9
    - Votes: 8,967
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 74 min

    Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s evil stepmother, reverses the course of events that led Cinderella to Prince Charming. Cinderella must win back her prince before he marries one of her ugly stepsisters instead. Primetime Emmy winner Holland Taylor lends her voice to the film.

  • #23. The Return of Jafar (1994)

    - Directors: Toby Shelton, Tad Stones, Alan Zaslove
    - IMDb user rating: 5.9
    - Votes: 26,071
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 69 min

    Disney released “Aladdin: The Return of Jafar” directly to video in 1994, its first direct-to-video sequel. Robin Williams did not appear as the voice of the Genie in this sequel, due to a disagreement with Disney.

  • #22. Into the Woods (2014)

    - Director: Rob Marshall
    - IMDb user rating: 5.9
    - Votes: 129,755
    - Metascore: 69
    - Runtime: 125 min

    This star-studded production of the Sondheim classic features Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy). Of course, what would a princess story be without a witch (Meryl Streep)? With the longest runtime of any film on this list, the 2014 film version of “Into the Woods” clocks in at 125 minutes and is a modern amalgamation of the stories of the aforementioned princesses, a baker and his wife, “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

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