August 14, 2020
Most Popular Disney Princesses
With the upcoming release of the live-action Mulan, we thought it would be interesting to see how the Disney princesses stacked up. Who would we go to right now, if we wanted to talk to the top influencer in the elite court of official Disney princesses?
There are many different ways to see how they stack up and a number of existing rankings. Some rankings are based on box office numbers, while others are based on the years the Princesses’ movies were released.
We decided to take a different approach to our ranking. What if we remove the personal feelings and arbitrary ratings and look only at the raw data? MOVIEMeter is a unique metric ranking developed by IMDb that grades movies based on search history, general interest, review ratings, and an array of other proprietary metrics. So, the lower the MOVIEmeter score, the higher the ranking. Basically, with this approach, what we’re looking at is which Disney princess would be the most successful social media influencer. It also stands to reason that the most talked about and the most searched princess carries the most influence in our ranking. Of course, since social media is ever-changing, our ranking could see a mix up within months of coming up with it.
First, we need to revisit what makes a character an official Disney princess. There are currently twelve ladies holding this title. For starters, the character must be a human. Now, we know what you’re thinking- is Ariel human? Not exactly, but there is a little rule bending when it comes to very human-like species such as mermaids. The second characteristic we must look at is their role in the movie. They don’t have to be the main character, but they do have to play a very significant role. The third item on our list is in which film where they introduced? It must be the original movie. So, unfortunately Ariel’s daughter, Melody, gets the boot on this one. Number four on the list of criteria seems obvious but let us not forget that the princess must either be from a royal family or marry into one or perform an act of heroism. Once a princess has checked these four boxes, there’s one more thing that determines where a princess ultimately stacks up on the rankings: the princess’s movie has to be successful. If her movie isn’t popular, you won’t see the royal lady plastered on the front of lunch boxes this fall—or rising very far up the rankings.
Starting at the very beginning, number 12 is the original Cinderella. Her story has been told countless ways, but we all know this rags-to-riches beauty with a heart of gold and a larger-than-life fairy godmother. Over the years, fans have related to her life of endless chores, while dreaming of someone coming to take them away to a life of luxury. With the help of a fairy godmother and three mice, Cinderella rode into her happily ever after with Prince Charming and a MOVIEMeter score of 4,891. The phrase “I felt like Cinderella” is a common statement and one of the reasons we continue to see her pop up on social media and memes decades later.
Coming in at number 11, an example of the ideal way to be woken up from a nap – a kiss from the Prince and a life as a Princess. Not only did Aurora walk through the forest and befriend all the woodland creatures, but she managed something that almost no one has been able to perfect: to look like an actual Sleeping Beauty. In the last animated film by Disney to use traditionally inked cels, Aurora continues to be the envy of Maleficent with her eternal youth and title as an official Disney princess. In all honesty, most of us know Aurora only by her nickname, Sleeping Beauty, which could be partially responsible for her low ranking with a MOVIEMeter score of 4,345.
With the help of seven friends, you would think Snow White might climb the ranks a little higher than the number 10 spot. Snow White had the smallest budget (just under $1.5 million), the largest ROI (return on investment), and is the only Disney princess to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Maybe we just appreciate a princess with a little more ambition these days, but whatever the case, she just slightly snuck ahead of Aurora with 3,890 on the MOVIEMeter score.
Our next princess bravely stood up to a group of strangers looking to take over her family’s land. With hair that perfectly and stunningly catches the breeze at all times, the ability to “paint with all the colors of the wind,” and a hilarious raccoon, Pocahontas comes in at the ninth spot. Earning a profit of almost $300 million, she has served as the inspiration for many memes. Pocahontas is also a legendary figure in American history, so you would think that online searches for her would pull her higher than her MOVIEMeter score of 2,700, but she is smart, reserved, and a pillar of strength, which makes us think she has a few more things to worry about than her current rank.
Bonjour, Belle! The first brunette princess and the only one who is not a teenager, Belle comes in as our eighth most influential princess. What more could a girl want besides finding true love and a library with books to keep her busy for years to come. With a kiss of true love, Belle breaks the curse of the Beast, turning him into a prince and securing her place in the royal family. “Beauty and the Beast” was a big jump in the budget for a Disney princess movie, but it paid off with a win for “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.” A live-action remake of the movie in 2017 surely helped pull Belle back into the minds of everyone, making us surprised to see her coming in low with a MOVIEMeter score of 2,177.
As a great representation of her movie title, “Brave,” Merida comes in at number seven. Already technically a princess, she is tired of the royal duties and is much happier to brush her unruly, fiery red hair back and take on adventure with her bow and arrow. Merida also made some waves for getting a surprise makeover when some artists drew her thinner with less frizzy hair and rounder eyes. An online petition began, and Merida became a body-positive role model, which positively contributes to her MOVIEMeter score of 2,150.
Number six had young girls wrapping their legs tight with a blanket to make a set of fins and brushing their hair with a fork (you know, a dinglehopper). Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” just had to sign away her voice for legs and a chance at love with Prince Eric. The Oscar-winning score behind this movie led it to be considered by some as “the film that brought Broadway into cartoons.” In an unusual move, Disney also released this movie on home video just six months after its release and catapulted its profits to $234 million. Recently, the casting of a Black superstar as Ariel in a modern remake of the Disney movie classic sparked controversy. This news was met with overwhelming excitement, as well as some unwanted Ursula-esque negativity. With a score of 1,922 on MOVIEMeter, Ariel swam her way more than halfway up the list and will forever be a part of our world.
In a movie with an enthusiastic bright blue genie and a young guy always seeking adventure, we were all drawn onto the balcony and into the heart of Princess Jasmine. Jasmine is the only official princess that is not the lead character of her film, but nonetheless deserving of her title. Timid at first, Jasmine adapts quickly to soaring high on a flying carpet admiring a “whole new world” with Aladdin. The recent live-action remake helped spike searches and interest that pushed Jasmine to a current MOVIEMeter score of 1,610.
A young, hardworking waitress kisses a frog, who happens to be a prince, only to turn into a frog herself. Eventually the two amphibians marry, upgrading Tiana to princess status, and become human once again. This is the tale of our number four most influential princess, Tiana. Princess Tiana is Disney’s very first Black princess. Released in 2009, Tiana was groundbreaking and finally provided much-needed representation in the Disney princess category. With this, came a lot of press and coverage. The beautiful and ambitious princess holds her spot at number four with a MOVIEmeter score of 1,557 and serves as inspiration to countless Disney fans.
Many of our princess stories begin with a young woman who is trapped and looking for a way out. Rapunzel just happens to be trapped in a tower with ladder-length hair and not a pair of scissors in sight. Utilizing a mix of computer-generated images and traditional animation, “Tangled” combed in $592 million at the box office. Notably, this princess had her name replaced in the title with “Tangled” as a move towards gender-neutrality, which led to a lot of buzz and controversy. Additionally, Disney pushed for more Tangled buzz by creating parody brands featuring the characters to help promote “Tangled.” The efforts paid off with an ROI of 227% and a MOVIEmeter score of 1,219, which secures a bronze (with blonde highlights) finish for Rapunzel.
Representing an early image of female empowerment, Mulan comes in the number two spot of most influential princesses. In the film, Mulan is a princess who disguises herself as male soldier so she can enlist in the military and fight for her family. For a girl so conflicted while looking at her reflection, the rest of us saw everything we want in a Disney princess. Of course, Mulan was beautiful, but it was her bravery and defiance of expectations that made us love her. While her box office numbers are not as high as some of the others near her on the list, the soon-to-be released live-action remake has piqued online interest. In 2020, Christina Aguilera recorded a new song, “Loyal Brave True,” in anticipation of the new release that now has over 5 million views. With a current MOVIEmeter score of 1,199 and a movie release on the horizon, we think there might be a shake-up in the near future for the top spot.
Finally, coming in at the number one spot is our courageous Polynesian lead, Moana. Great lengths were taken to ensure the film’s accuracy where Moana returned a mysterious relic to help save the people of her island. The night sky behind her was created by astronomers to mimic the night sky of Pacific Islands 2,000 years ago. Experts were recruited to ensure cultural accuracy and sensitivity throughout production. Casting included as many individuals as possible of Polynesian descent. Although Moana edged out Mulan for the top spot with a MOVIEMeter score of 563, it should be noted that Moana was released eighteen years after Mulan and in an age of internet and social media. This means it will be very interesting to see if anything shake ups happens with the release of the live-action Mulan movie.
While many of the influential princesses are more recent additions to the Disney princess universe, it is important to note that Jasmine and Ariel have been around awhile and maintained high scores. One reason may be that both of these princesses have had buzz recently—Jasmine with the 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin and Ariel with the current production of a live-action “The Little Mermaid” movie.
Much to our dismay, when creating our list of the most popular Disney princesses, it was brought to our attention that the polar pair actually are not princesses any more, since they are both queens now! While it’s easy to say their popularity is off the charts, unfortunately they do not qualify to be on our list. As we now know there is a fairly strict set of criteria when it comes to your royal Disney status as a princess.