Top 10 Highest Grossing Horror Movies of All Time



Top 10 Highest Grossing Horror Movies of All Time

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Laura Keating
These horror movies had people covering their eyes and reaching for their wallets! For this list, we'll be looking at the films that brought in the scares and the bucks. Our countdown includes “The Exorcist", "It", “World War Z”, and more!

Top 10 Highest-Grossing Horror Movies of All Time

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Highest-Grossing Horror Movies of All Time.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the films that brought in the scares and the bucks. While we are, for the most part, basing our list on the stats of cold, hard cash, we will be excluding animated films and direct sequels, which might have been riding off of the success of an earlier film. Franchises get the green light, however.

Let us know what your favorite blockbuster scare-fest is in the comments. Let’s get started.

#10: “The Mummy” (1999)


If there is one thing that Universal is known for, it’s monster films. While the golden age started back in the early 1930s, at the end of the 90s, they dove back into the world of classic monsters in a big way. With a stellar cast (love us some Brendan Fraser!), sharp writing, classic look, and tight action sequences, there is a lot to love. On top of that, the film never forgets its horror roots, first established by the great Boris Karloff. With flesh-eating bugs, a rampaging mummy constructed of nightmare fuel, and collapsing sandy temples, it has earned all of the love it still gets. Good thing they stopped and never made a sequel. Nope.

#9: “The Exorcist” (1973)


To say that “The Exorcist” was a sensation upon release is an understatement. Few demonic possession films had ever drawn crowds the way this one did. Audiences flocked in droves to get a glimpse - if they could handle that much. To this day, “The Exorcist” remains one of the scariest films ever made - and one of the most profitable. Those audience numbers translated into cash, cash, cash. The oldest film on our list, it is important to point out that ticket prices for theatres was a loooot lower back in the early 70s. The number of stubs ripped to gross nearly half a BILLION dollars worldwide is truly impressive.

#8: “Jaws” (1975)


In 1975, just as modern horror was starting to be regarded as a legitimate genre and art form, a then-little-known director named Steven Spielberg knocked it out of the park. “Jaws” helped to launch what we now know as the summer blockbuster, changing the business model of Hollywood and film release forever. For a period, it was not only the highest-grossing scary movie, but the highest-grossing movie overall. Like “The Exorcist,” “Jaws” remains scary and iconic. And be honest, who hasn’t swam around a pool, lake, or oceanside while humming the famous tune? (Duh-dun. Duh-dun. Duh-dun ...)

#7: “Godzilla” (2014)


The 30th installment of this classic franchise and the first of the Legendary’s MonsterVerse, Godzilla came back in a big way. While the series has moved more towards the action genre these days, Toho’s radioactive superhero is well-steeped in horror legacy. Launched in the mid-50s, where giant-creature features were all the rage, backed by a healthy dose of atomic concerns, “Godzilla” embodied Japan’s fears of nuclear catastrophe. While other parts of the world could only imagine nuclear destruction, Japan knew first-hand the devastation. As time has gone on, Godzilla has moved from villain to anti-hero and a cautionary tale in giant form. If the box office returns from the 2014 film proved anything, it’s that he’s still the king in more ways than one.

#6: “The Meg” (2018)


This isn’t your grandpa’s shark movie: This is the MEG! We get it, no sea creature feature can be “Jaws.” You know what it can be? BIGGER. You might be asking, “But WatchMojo, is this really a horror film?” We don’t make the classifications, we just read’em as we see’em - but also, think about it: Do you wanna get eaten by a humongous shark? Sounds pretty horrifying to get your leg ripped off, right? Sharks are scary (even if wildly misunderstood in real life), so this one about a swimming dinosaur gets to be a horror film. It also made a Megalodon of money (sure, that’s a real unit of measurement, tell your friends!)

#5: “World War Z” (2013)


If there was one horror trope that dominated the early 2010s, it was zombies. You couldn’t throw a nail-studded bat without hitting on a new blockbuster or franchise teeming with undead ghouls. But while most zombie stories are centered in one locale or country, this adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling novel takes things to a global level. With a headliner like Brad Pitt, this movie was primed for success, and it did not disappoint! With some of the fastest zombies in the horror canon (and best at human pyramids) this film raced to box office success.

#4: “I Am Legend” (2007)


Based on the novel by horror legend Richard Matheson, and previously adapted as “The Last Man on Earth” and “The Omega Man,” this mid-aughts, post-apocalyptic horror/thriller proved to be a box office legend. A virologist is immune to the disease that has decimated global populations’ attempts to find a cure. A precursor to the zombie-craze to come, Will Smith’s character is isolated, hunted, and in a race against time to help survivors (if there are any) for the mutating virus. As of 2021, we’re pretty sure we’ve all just about had it with out-of-control viruses, right?

#3: “War of the Worlds” (2005)


When Orson Welles broadcasted H. G. Wells’ alien invasion story over the radio waves in 1938, people freaked out. Many people truly believed that Earth was being invaded by aliens. To be fair, no one was prepared for that sort of drama back then. And if we genuinely thought that these aliens were going around vaporizing people, well, we might freak out too. Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” was scary in a different way. Made during an especially uncertain time, Spielberg found a haunting middle ground between sci-fi and real-world horror. The highest-grossing horror film of the aughts, “War of the Worlds” proved there was plenty of life left in this old story.

#2: “The Sixth Sense” (1999)


The top-grossing horror film of the 20th century, M. Night Shyamalan’s ghost story has earned its place in the horror hall of greats. The original story boasted powerful performances from Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, and Haley Joel Osment, not to mention an infamous twist that no one saw coming. That ingenious twist was one of the reasons why audiences kept coming back. In a world of slashers (as fun as they are!), “The Sixth Sense” treated movie-goers to some old-school subtle terror. Twenty-plus years on, the film is as chilling today as it was at the end of the last millennium.

#1: “It” (2017)


Ever heard of a little author named Stephen King? Let’s face it, the whole world has. A new Stephen King renaissance climaxed in 2017 with this feature adaptation of his colossal 1986 novel, “It.” The first film alone made nearly a billion dollars worldwide, and nearly that much again when the sequel was launched in 2019. At that point, many people learned what all Constant Readers had known for years: Stephen King’s stories are truly epic, especially when in the hands of people who understand the material.