In the film and literature world, one of the most snubbed genres is speculative fiction, specifically horror. Such treatment exists even though there are critically acclaimed horror flicks such as Get Out and Hereditary. Plus the others that are film-school approved such as Nosferatu and Persona. Even with such perception, there is no denying that scary movies are successful in the money department.
In fact, some of the most popular and longest franchises are those under the horror genre including Friday the 13th (with 12 installments) and Nightmare on Elm Street (with 9 installments). With an entire holiday dedicated solely to all things scary, you can bet that this genre has a cult following of its own. Perhaps even you are a fan of horror.
Of course, with such long-standing franchises, it is expected that this genre has been popular and successful throughout the years. Wondering what movies have raked in mass amounts of dollars in film history? Check out this list of the top 10 highest-grossing horror films in history.
10. The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist (2016)
Gross Earnings: $311,262,102
First on our list is the second installment of the Conjuring franchise. This movie tells the story of Lorraine and Ed Warren who went to London to investigate paranormal activities in the home of a mother and her four children. What follows is a terrifying chain of events.
Raking in more than $311,000,000, it seems that James Wan has captured the attention of horror fans, especially with the success of the Insidious movies. With the success of this second film, it is no wonder why the franchise will be producing a third installment.
9. The Conjuring (2013)
Gross Earnings: $318,000,141
Of course, the success of the second movie is precedented by the first one. In fact, this is the film that inspired the spin-offs such as Annabelle and The Nun. It was such a hit that it birthed the Conjuring Universe.
Produced by New Line Cinema, this first flick is destined for greatness, especially as this company is the home of many other beloved horror franchises like Final Destination, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street.
8. A Quiet Place (2018)
Gross Earnings: $336,157,526
Praised for starring an actor with hearing impairments, this movie has also gained the attention of the world for its sheer suspense. Moreover, it gave the traditional monster film a unique twist combined with genius sound direction and engineering.
Aside from making the top 10 list of the highest-grossing horror films in history, A Quiet Place also secured positions in other records such as the Top 100 Theater Average at the Domestic Box Office in 2018.
7. Hannibal (2001)
Gross Earnings: $350,100,280
A continuation of the iconic film The Silence of the Lambs (1991), this film by Alien director Riddle Scott follows serial killer Hannibal Lecter 10 years after the events of the first flick. It was based on the novels by Thomas Harris.
Featuring Anthony Hopkins as the titular character, this and the first film paved the way for future installments in the franchise. This includes Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising, a prequel to the earlier movies. The TV show Hannibal also ran from 2013 to 2015.
6. The Nun (2018)
Gross Earnings: $363,676,447
This movie shows the origins of The Conjuring 2’s main antagonist, Valak. Another part of the Conjuring Universe, there is no wonder why this film got the attention it received. In fact, you probably saw a few people dressed as Valak during Halloween after its release.
Fans of The Nun probably know that even the set of this film was visited by ghosts. You might have also spotted a few easter eggs stealthily placed by the filmmakers including a cross and a group photo of some nuns, which were first shown in Annabelle: Creation.
5. The Exorcist (1973)
Gross Earnings: $428,214,478
Dubbed one of the scariest horror movies of all time, The Exorcist can definitely give you nightmares. From the superb makeup job to the terrifying depiction of demonic possession, the film is one of the critically-acclaimed works in this genre.
In fact, known “film snob” critic Roger Ebert gave The Exorcist a 4/4 rating. With the excellent special effects and acting, this film deserves its status as a horror classic. Ebert even compared it to Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, which is another classic flick.
4. It: Chapter Two (2019)
Gross Earnings: $470,288,232
The second half of the two-part It flicks, It: Chapter Two continues the story of a group of kids, who are now adults, as they suppress memories of their hometown and Pennywise the Clown. The two movies are a reboot of the original miniseries of the same name.
Based on the novel by Stephen King, the depiction of Pennywise in the reboot offers a different take on the killer clown. Played by Bill Skarsgard, the antagonist has a more sinister air, especially with the help of special effects.
3. Jaws (1975)
Gross Earnings: $470,700,000
This movie is probably one of the factors responsible for the thalassophobia suffered by many. With the realistic depiction of sharks to the thrilling musical score, Jaws has inspired a whole lot of shark and monster movies involving megafauna.
After this first movie, there were three others but none came close to the financial success enjoyed by this 1975 flick. Just like some of the entries on this list, Jaws achieved cult status because of the sheer excellence of this movie.
2. I am Legend (2007)
Gross Earnings: $585,532,684
Starring Will Smith, this post-apocalyptic flick became one of the most popular ones in this genre. Perhaps this is because of the combination of zombies – still a popular horror trope – and a confusing twist at the end.
It was based on Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name, which was published in 1954. For many, this story is one of the best versions of the post-apocalyptic world. Moreover, it is also praised for having great special effects at the time.
1. It (2017)
Gross Earnings: $701,728,874
Topping out the top 10 list is the first half of the two-part reboot of Stephen King’s It. This shows the beginning of the nightmare the group of young kids had to endure. It shows what life is like living in a town rife with the history of murders dating back centuries.
The only thing fans could say about this film probably is that the story is left hanging right as the horrors intensified. Viewers had to wait two years before they see the ending. But that is probably not a big deal for those who have read the novel and watched the original.
These films have terrified millions of fans around the globe. Because of this, they deserve to be in the list of the top 10 highest-grossing horror films in history. Which ones have you dared to watch?
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