Top Ten Highest-Grossing Horror Movies of All Time

Updated on October 14, 2019

Horror movies are always popular, but Halloween is the perfect time for checking out a scary release. I'm going to run down the top ten highest grossing horror movies of all time.

You should know that the figures below have not been adjusted for inflation.


10. Van Helsing (2004)

With Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale starring, this had an immediate draw which helped propel it to a high worldwide gross. Van Helsing's purpose in life is to expunge evil from the world. He is asked to go to Transylvania to hunt down the all-powerful Dracula. As he arrives with his companion Carl, local vampire hunter Anna Valerious teams up with the pair and, united against the seemingly invincible vampire, the trio embark on a mission that pits Van Helsing against his own demons. This foe just may prove too much to handle.

Trivia: Kate Beckinsale's character wore boots that needed half an hour to put on.

Estimated budget: $160 million

Domestic: $120 million

Worldwide: $300 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 24%

Metacritic score: 35


9. The Conjuring (2013)

Based on a true story from the 1970s, husband and wife Roger and Carolyn Perron have moved with their five daughters to Rhode Island. The broken down farm house is terrifying from the start, with a boarded up basement and a general air of gloom. The family is soon targeted by a terrifying haunting with Satanic origins. Realizing they are unable to cope with these occult forces, the family reaches out to paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren. The spirits turn out to be a challenge that will test all the experience of the Warrens.

Trivia: This is a very scary movie. Rated R, there's little to no sex, smoking, alcohol, or bad language. The violence is also not extreme. The R rating is solely due to the scare factor.

Estimated budget: $20 million

Domestic: $137 million

Worldwide: $319 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%

Metacritic score: 68


8. The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Ed and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal investigators from "The Conjuring", are six years older and are now traveling to London, England. This time around, they are called to help a single mother and her daughter Janet. Mother Peggy at first dismisses Janet's claims of befriending the spirit of an old man, but eventually is convinced by the frightening occurrences. Ed and Lorraine Warren join forces with a local investigator, but soon find themselves under attack by the evil presence.

Trivia: Actress Vera Farmiga screamed a lot, with some scenes needing dozens of takes. This resulted in painful damage to her throat.

Estimated budget: $40 million

Domestic: $102 million

Worldwide: $320 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%

Metacritic score: 65


7. Se7en (1995)

Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Gwyneth Paltrow lead this thrilling film with riveting performances. Pitt and Freeman are homicide detectives engaged in a race against time as they search for a serial killer. The killer's crimes are modeled on the Seven Deadly Sins, and the gruesome murders play out one at a time as the protagonist continues to stay one step ahead of the detectives. The ingenuity of the madman killer eventually twists his pursuers into his dark plot with an ending that is unforgettable.

Trivia: The actor who played the victim of "Sloth" had to spend 14 hours being prepared with prosthetics for filming.

Estimated budget: $33 million

Domestic: $100 million

Worldwide: $327 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%

Metacritic score: 65


6. Hannibal (2001)

This is the fourth Hannibal Lecter film, and Sir Anthony Hopkins reprises his role playing alongside Julianne Moore. Working at a museum in Italy and keeping a low profile, he is drawn back to America as Agent Clarice Starling is facing trouble. Lecter in turn is targeted by an old victim; thus begins a race between the ex-patient seeking revenge and the FBI as they try to track down the villainous doctor.

Trivia: An early movie poster distributed in the United Kingdom had to be cancelled as it was too shocking. The poster paid homage to "The Silence of the Lambs" with a picture of Dr. Hannibal Lecter wearing a partial skin mask on his face.

Estimated budget: $87 million

Domestic: $165 million

Worldwide: $352 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 39%

Metacritic score: 57


5. Signs (2002)

Priest Graham Hess (played by Mel Gibson) loses his wife to a car accident, leading him to lose his faith in God. Living with his family (son, daughter, and his brother) on a farm, they one day discover crop circles in their fields. These events are occurring across the world, and the family soon comes to believe there is something otherworldly behind these signs. Whatever is behind the phenomena, the family believes it is unfriendly and they must take steps to protect themselves.

Trivia: Filmed in Bucks County PA, the fields were located on the grounds of a community college. Director M. Night Shyamalan's distaste for CGI resulted in the crew creating real crop circles. To help them accomplish the filming schedule, they used a new watering technique to speed up the corn growth. This technique was adopted by the college.

Estimated budget: $72 million

Domestic: $228 million

Worldwide: $408 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 73%

Metacritic score: 59


4. The Exorcist (1973)

Widely regarded as one of the scariest movies of all time, this classic horror movie is a perpetual favorite for Halloween. Regan is a 12 year old girl whose behavioral and physical changes start to alarm her mother. Medical tests are unable to find the source, and in desperation Regan's mother reaches out to the Catholic church. Father Karras, the young priest she contacts, is facing his own struggles, trying to reconcile the death of his mother with his faith. He in turn seeks assistance from a more experienced priest, Father Merrin. The two priests battle the forces of evil as they try to free Regan by performing an exorcism.

Trivia: It's hard to overstate how terrifying this film was at its release. Paramedics were called into theaters to treat audience members who fainted or experienced genuine hysteria.

Estimated budget: $11 million

Domestic: $233 million

Worldwide: $441 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%

Metacritic score: 81


3. Jaws (1975)

A small town, reliant on summer tourists to boost its economy, is torn between a suspected shark attack and the pressures of the local businesses. New to the town Police Chief Martin Brody acquiesces to the pressure, but soon comes to regret his decision as more swimmers are killed. The town is besieged by various amateur shark hunters looking for a big reward, but the eventual climax sees a tense showdown between Brody, expert shark hunter Quint, and oceanographic expert Matt Hooper.

Trivia: The famous theme by John Williams was at first treated as a joke by director Steven Spielberg, who said, "That's funny, John, but what did you really have in mind for the theme?". Spielberg later would credit the musical score as being an enormous part of the film's success.

Estimated budget: $7 million

Domestic: $260 million

Worldwide: $471 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

Metacritic score: 87


2. The Sixth Sense (1999)

A young boy who says he sees dead people is the newest patient of child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (played by Bruce Willis). As Crowe comes to know the eight year old Cole Sear, he becomes more concerned about the boy's state of mind. Seeking to redeem himself after a tormenting experience with a previous patient, he sees echoes of his past in this new patient, and finds himself transitioning from skeptic to believer as he doubts his ability to hep the boy.

Trivia: The line "I see dead people" has been voted as one of the greatest movie lines of all time.

Estimated budget: $40 million

Domestic: $294 million

Worldwide: $673 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%

Metacritic score: 64


1. It (2017)

"It" pushed people into a fever pitch when it came out, launching the movie to become the highest grossing horror movie ever.

A monster disguised as a clown is killing children one at a time in the small town of Derry, Maine. A group of outcast children take it upon themselves to rid the town of the monster. In turn, the entity preys upon their deepest and most intimate fears.

Trivia: Part of the lore of the clown monster is that it awakens every 27 years. The movie was release in 2017 - 27 years after the 1990 TV movie release.

Estimated budget: $35 million

Domestic: $327 million

Worldwide: $700 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%

Metacritic score: 69


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