9 Most Profitable Horror Movies


Horror movies it is the genre we love and the genre we love to hate. We all love original horror films and a lot of us love to bag on studios and their horror remakes, gimmicks and 3D trickery. All of this has led to my latest editorial which with the help of The Numbers looks at the most profitable horror films of all time.

So let’s get right to the meat and potatoes of things and then we can wrap it up with a message from your sponsor… me.

#9 –  The Evil Dead – Made for $375,000 / Made $29million: Evil Dead has gone down as one of the greatest horror films ever made and to this day has maintained Bruce Campbells super star status amongst horror fans.

Bruce Campbell, Ash

#8 – SAW – Made for $1million / Made $100million: This film helped launch not just one directors career but also went on to spawn a billion dollar franchise for the studio.

#7 – Friday the 13th – Made for $500,000 / Made $60million: Friday the 13th is a horror staple that to this day is one of the best horror films ever made.

Friday the 13th 1980

#6 –Open Water – Made for $500k /  Made $50million: Open Water with its combination of a unique script and a great cast proved that budget means very little when it comes to box office profits and overall film quality.

#5 – Halloween 1978 – Made for $325,000 / Made $70million: Just like many of the other films on this list Halloween continues to scare horror fans. It has spawned a series of sequels and a dubious remake none of which have been as profitable as the original master piece.

#4 – Night of the Living Dead ’68 – Made for $114,000 / Made $110million: Two words sum up the success of Night of the Living Dead: George Romero. I used a photo from Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of the film because its a great film I had to sneak into this list and is also one of the few horror remakes as good as the original.

#3 – The Blair Witch – Made for $600,00 / Made $250million: Blair Witch is one of the few movies that left me sleepless and spawned a new trend in horror films, the found footage film.

#2 – Mad Max – Made for $200k / Made $100million: At one time Mel Gibson was not known for being on TMZ on a regular and his film Mad Max is not only one of the greatest end of days movies ever made its also the second most profitable

#1 – Paranormal Activity – Made for $15,000 / Made $195 million. : Honestly dont think we need to say anything about this one. Paranormal Activity is the most profitable movie ever made regardless of genre and has already spawned two sequels with Paranormal Activity 3 hitting theaters this October.

Now with any good editorial we need to have some super important message. Some deep thought that will resonate with you. What message am I trying to in still with this editorial? It is simple. Show me which of the movies on this Top 10 Most Profitable horror films is a remake. Show me which of these movies was converted to or shot in 3D. Show me which of these films started out as a major blockbuster studio project.

The top 10 most profitable horror films come from all sub-genres within the hallowed libraries of horror filmmaking.  From the classics like Halloween to new modern masterpieces like SAW and Paranormal Activity horror movies have made studios literally boat loads of money. This clearly shows that when studios take gambles on great films which focus on originality and not on catering to the lowest MPAA rating or the latest camera technology can and will make money.

Now ask yourself why Trick R Treat was dumped onto DVD without so much as a theatrical whimper when it is in fact one of the greatest horror anthologies ever made. Why was Toby Wilkins SPLINTER relegated to the DVD shelf when it is one of the best modern monster movies ever made? Why are great talents like Alex Ferrari still struggling to get a feature film made?

What will it take for studios and horror fans to get together to better the genre as a whole? The studios want to make money and we as horror fans want to see great horror movies not cliché horror gimmicks. How do we make that happen? How do we make sure that talented directors like Adam Green ( Hatchet / Spiral ), Toby Wilkins ( Splinter ) , Michael Dougherty ( Trick R Treat ) get the funding and support they need to keep making damn fine horror movies?


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      1. Inchoate September 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm

        How the fuck is Mad Max classed as a horror?

        • Herner Klenthur February 18, 2013 at 12:27 am

          Its an exploitation movie and your right not true horror but could not help but include it.

      2. alien25 September 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm

        I love that not one is a major studio production.  Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but creativity and originallity are clearly more profitable.

      3. Bigevilworldwide September 22, 2011 at 3:09 am

        The whole reason Savini’s 1990 remade of night of the living dead is almost as good as the original is because George actually wrote the movie Savini just directed it.

      4. Hunnycombs September 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm

        the budget Romero works with and STILL makes a badass movie and STILL makes tons of $, makes me just wanna shake that mans hand. he is a genius!

      5. Lee Vervoort September 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm

        Well guys and gals, I just have to throw my 2 cents in here. As I have always rambled about. I WANT to make horror films for the fans; Not to compete with Anyone, Not to see how many awards I can win, but for the FANS. We all know raising money is the hard part.

        But seriously, aren’t there enough horror fans  to accommodate funding on sites like Indiegogo.com and Kickstarter? Yes times are tough,but I don’t need a million bucks to make a film. As the old formula goes, if everyone donated a dollar, hell yes, I could keep you guys in horror from here on out. The ideas are in my head, but I don’t want to raise a few thousand bucks and slap it together with a crap result.

        Thanks for reading my response…and great article.

      6. Scott_hensley89 October 18, 2011 at 3:39 am

        I really think that remakes should be made. Having said that i don’t think hollywood should be banking on them like they are. It’s annoying to only see remakes in theaters now a day’s. It seams that originality goes to dvd and that remakes horde the theaters.

      7. Optimus_past_my_Prime August 4, 2012 at 11:33 am

        Oddly enough independent features are the only place that originality exists these days. Hollywood is too afraid of losing money to invest in anything but remakes and sequels.

      8. gabriel February 18, 2013 at 12:35 am

        Is the Blair Witch Project sum correct?

      9. Sarah E. February 18, 2013 at 12:48 am

        I think it would be an interesting experiment for a Hollywood remake of a low budget film to be made with the exact same budget as the original (adjusted for inflation?). Then they would have to be just as creative with what they have at their fingertips as the original.

        • Herner Klenthur February 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm

          I cant say I disagree but most people hate even hearing the words ‘remake’

      10. C. Ferrer February 19, 2013 at 7:45 am

        Cool list. But a couple of things.. according to Box Office Mojo, the production cost for Blair Witch was $60k not $600k and also looking at their ranking of the genre based on the grosses, Blair Witch was ranked 4th where Paranormal Activity was ranked 7th. Why is PA ranked higher than Blair Witch?

      11. Lazron February 21, 2013 at 2:05 am

        I’d disagree that Open Water had a “great cast”. They had their moments, but I also found them (the girl in particular) to be somewhat irritating at times.

        “The Reef” was a much better version of a similar concept. Better acting, better shark footage, much more tense. I had high hopes for “Open Water”, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been.

        • Tracy Penner March 9, 2014 at 1:31 pm

          Remake is one word.

        • LarSiN March 9, 2014 at 8:07 pm

          Yes, Remake is one word. But if you’re suggesting that “The Reef” is a remake of “Open Water”, you’re way off base.

          True, they’re both based on true stories, but not remotely the same incident or amount of people involved. Also not the same part of the world.