Many classic horror films have been wildly popular for decades, and some of the highest-grossing horror franchises have developed cult followings that span generations. The result? Some seriously high box office profits.
From sci-fi/horror to action/horror, these horror franchises offer something to satisfy every moviegoer. Keep reading to see 13 of the highest-grossing horror franchises of all time.
13. ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’: $250,914,338
Total “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” box office revenues — not including the re-release of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” — amount to $250.9 million. The first film, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” grossed $30.8 million domestically. Some of the sequels, like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and “Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III,” didn’t perform as well as the first film. But, the 2003 remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” grossed $107.1 million worldwide.
The franchise centers on “Leatherface” and his family, a group of cannibals that murder and eat people. Leatherface is the most noteworthy character, known for wearing a mask of human skin, a blood-soaked butcher’s apron and carrying a chainsaw. The next film in the installment is reportedly in the works.
12. ‘Halloween’: $343,843,431
The eight original “Halloween” movies and the two remakes grossed a combined total of $343.8 million. The original “Halloween” film released in 1978 grossed an impressive $47 million domestically (foreign box office numbers are unavailable), but the franchise’s second-most recent film is the standout. “Halloween” (2007) grossed nearly $60 million at the domestic box office and almost $22 million at the foreign box office.
The “Halloween” franchise is based on the fictional character Michael Myers, who was placed in a mental hospital when he was a child after murdering his older sister. Fifteen years later, Myers returns to Haddonfield and goes back to killing. An eleventh film, “Halloween Returns,” is rumored to be in the works.
11. ‘Insidious’: $368,447,026
With only three films, the “Insidious” franchise has already grossed $368.4 million worldwide and $189.8 million domestically. “Insidious: Chapter 2” is the clear winner in this franchise, with $83.5 million in domestic profits and $161.9 million worldwide.
Starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, the first two “Insidious” films tell the story of the Lambert family as they try to thwart off evil spirits. The third film, “Insidious: Chapter 3,” is a prequel that hit theaters in June 2015.
10. ‘Friday the 13th’: $445,239,523
The 12 films in the “Friday the 13th” series have amassed a combined $445.2 million. The first “Friday the 13th” film released in 1980 earned a total of $39.7 million, but 23 years later, “Freddy Vs. Jason” brought in more than $82 million domestically and more than $32 million in the foreign market. However, it was 2009’s “Friday the 13th” that had the best opening weekend, bringing in almost $41 million at the domestic box office.
The franchise is based on the character of Jason Voorhees, who drowned as a child at Camp Crystal Lake due to the negligence of camp counselors. Years later, the lake becomes the site of numerous murders. Movie No. 13 of the franchise is slated to hit theaters on Jan. 13, 2017, reports The Wrap.
9. ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’: $457,001,847
Freddy Krueger terrorized Elm Street and murdered teenagers in their dreams in eight films and one remake, earning a total of $457 million. The first film in the franchise, “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” grossed a total of $25.5 million domestically, and the rest of the films grossed between $18 million and $63 million — except for 2003’s “Freddy Vs. Jason,” which grossed $82.6 million domestically and $114.9 million worldwide.
8. ‘The Exorcist’: $496,966,909
According to The-Numbers.com, “The Exorcist” franchise earned a combined total of $496.9 million. After it released in 1973, “The Exorcist” grossed $402.7 million worldwide, making it the most successful film in this franchise. In comparison, “Exorcist II: The Heretic” and “The Exorcist III” earned only around $25 million.
The plot in each movie is different, but it typically involves a priest whose faith is put to the test when he’s faced with a demonic presence, requiring an exorcism. The franchise is based on the book “The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty.
7. ‘Scream’: $604,382,926
“Scream” is one of the highest-grossing horror franchises of all time, bringing in a total of $604.3 million across four films. “Scream” grossed $173 million, “Scream 2” earned $172.3 million, “Scream 3” brought in $161.8 million and “Scream 4” made $97.1 million.
In these Wes Craven-directed movies, a “Ghostface” killer stalks and terrorizes Sidney and her friends. Unfortunately for them, the killer keeps returning in each movie.
6. ‘Final Destination’: $665,080,639
With a worldwide gross of $665.1 million, the “Final Destination” movies have done pretty well at both the global and domestic box offices. “The Final Destination,” however, has done slightly better than the other four films; it raked in $66.4 million domestically and more than $186 million worldwide.
These films all have similar plots: A group of young adults cheat death and avoid horrific tragedies, such as a plane crash, highway pileup, deadly rollercoaster ride, etc. But, they quickly find out that they can’t run from death forever.
5. ‘Jaws’: $798,405,075
Profits for the “Jaws” franchise totaled $798.4 million, not including the 1980 re-issue of “Jaws 2.” The first “Jaws” grossed $470.6 million, “Jaws 2” brought in $187.8 million, “Jaws 3-D” earned $87.9 million and “Jaws IV: The Revenge” made just $51.8 million.
The first movie in the “Jaws” franchise was released in 1975 and directed by Steven Spielberg. The film helped turn him into one of the most famed directors in the business.
4. ‘Paranormal Activity’: $811,630,522
Not only are the “Paranormal Activity” films some of the highest-grossing horror movies of all time — bringing in a total of $811.6 million, not including the most recent film — but production costs aren’t that high compared with other high-grossing movies. The first “Paranormal Activity” movie, for example, had a production of only $15,000, according to BoxOfficeMojo. Yet, it racked in a whopping $107.9 million domestically and $85.4 million at the foreign box office.
This horror franchise is composed of creepy footage of allegedly real events experienced by two California sisters terrorized by a demonic force. The sixth installment, “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,” is currently in theaters.
3. ‘Saw’: $874,135,204
The “Saw” franchise box office profits total $874.1 million, making it one of the most successful horror film franchises in history. The first “Saw” film earned $103.9 million worldwide, but “Saw II” and “Saw III” did the best at the box office. “Saw II” made the most domestically with $87 million, and “Saw III” earned the most money worldwide with $164.9 million.
In the “Saw” films, the convoluted Jigsaw Killer brutally tortures victims he considers guilty or smug to make them appreciate their lives. And instead of murdering with his hands, Jigsaw forces his victims to escape horrifying predicaments by enduring a great deal of physical and emotional pain.
2. ‘Resident Evil’: $915,934,664
The “Resident Evil” franchise almost hit the $1 billion mark at the global box office. The first film released in 2002 and starred Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez. In the film, a team of commandos descend into an underground bio-engineering facility called the Hive. However, what they find out is that a deadly T-virus infected the employees, turning them into flesh-eating zombies.
Four films followed the original “Resident Evil,” with the fourth film — “Resident Evil: Afterlife” — raking in the most money domestically with more than $60 million. Worldwide, this film grossed an impressive $296.2 million.
1. ‘Alien’: $1,261,966,232
From 1979’s “Alien” starring Sigourney Weaver to 2012’s “Prometheus” starring Charlize Theron, the “Alien” franchise is the highest-grossing horror movie franchise. With a total worldwide gross standing at $1.26 billion, this means the average gross for each movie is about $180 million.
“Prometheus” is by far the most successful film in this franchise, generating $403 million at the box office worldwide. In comparison, the franchise’s second-most successful film, “Alien Vs. Predator,” raked in $172 million at the global box office.
In the “Alien” movies, space crew members encounter deadly aliens. But in “Prometheus,” the most recent film in this franchise, a team travels the universe to find the origin of mankind and stumble upon aliens on a distant planet.
Totals include domestic and foreign lifetime grosses (except for movies where the foreign gross was unavailable) according to BoxOfficeMojo.com unless otherwise noted. Totals were not adjusted for inflation.