Horror films are popular choices among moviegoers during the Halloween season, but diehard fans of the genre love to watch them year-round. Horror movies keep audiences on the edge of their seats with riveting suspense and gruesome monsters. A great horror film is compelling, unforgettable, and, of course, delightfully scary. Some standout horror films even go on to launch multi-movie franchises, which keep fans filling theater seats year after year and spawn everything from TV series to comic books. Furthermore, iconic horror characters frequently appear in the form of Halloween costumes for adults and kids alike. The highest-grossing horror film franchises of all time have an important place in movie culture – both in the U.S. and beyond.
The Final Destination franchise started in 2000. It was written and directed by a team of writers from The X-Files, which accounts for its eerie supernatural tone. The teen-scream film’s premise is simple: a group of teenagers inadvertently cheat death by avoiding a catastrophic plane crash, but Death comes to collect the souls wh0 should have perished. That first film launched a five-film franchise, with a rumored sixth film on the way. The franchise has also spawned two comic books and a set of novels. To date, Final Destination has generated $665,080,639 worldwide, earning it a respectable spot among the highest-grossing horror franchises.
The mask worn by the killer in Scream has become an icon in its own right since the first film premiered in 1996. The franchise has grown to five movies, the latest of which was released in 2022. The franchise also includes a short-lived television series and, of course, plenty of merchandise related to the infamous mask. So far, the 2022 Scream reboot is sitting at number eleven on the list of the highest-grossing movies for this year – not bad for a twenty-five-year-old franchise. All told, the Scream franchise has grossed $744,424,331 and counting.
It’s rare for even the best movies to have as wide of a reach as the Predator franchise. The first film didn’t even crack the top ten highest-grossing films list for 1987, but the franchise has nonetheless developed a cult following over the years. The franchise has four canonical movies but is still growing. A spin-off series called Alien Vs. Predator took the franchise in a new direction, but there have also been Predator comic books, video games, and even a set of novels. The fifth film in the franchise, Prey, debuted in 2022, so this enduring franchise shows no signs of slowing down. So far, the franchise has grossed $744,593,166.
It may not be the highest-grossing movie franchise on the list, but Halloween is one of the most recognizable. It is also one of the longest-running: Halloween’s infamous killer, Michael Myers, first graced the silver screen back in 1978. The franchise has grown to eleven films, with Halloween Ends rounding out the Danny McBride trilogy in October 2022. There was also a related comic book line and a novelization of the first film. The franchise serves as inspiration for countless other films, and it’s unlikely that fans will ever truly see the last of Michal Myers. So far, the franchise has grossed $773,971,323, which is sure to change after Halloween Ends premieres.
Paranormal Activity uses the “found footage” gimmick to give its films a signature style. This technique also lends a heavy dose of realism to the movies, which is part of what makes them so popular. The film series even spawned a video game in 2017. The Paranormal Activity franchise has only been around since 2009 but has already amassed $890,533,646 in gross. Another installment of the franchise is projected for release in 2023. That installment, titled The Other Side, will be the franchise’s eighth film – so far.
The first Hannibal franchise film was technically 1986’s Manhunter, but most fans of horror movies associate the birth of the franchise with 1991’s The Silence Of The Lambs. The five films in the franchise are based on the life and crimes of Hannibal Lecter, a cannibal serial killer created by author Thomas Harris. Most recently, NBC revived the franchise in a television series adaptation/prequel, which won a handful of Saturn Awards. The franchise has grossed $924,422,301 as of now, with no new film projects announced as of yet.
Saw is one of few horror movie franchises to cross the billion-dollar threshold in gross profits, coming in at $1,012,620,413 to date. The franchise consists of nine full-length films revolving around a unique fictional serial killer named John Kramer. Rather than simply killing his victims, Kramer traps his victims in “games” that force them to fight for their lives. All nine films have received mixed reviews from critics, but fans continue to love the gory franchise. There are rumors that a television adaptation of one of the films is on the horizon, so horror lovers may get a chance to return to their favorite series soon.
Resident Evil got its start as a 1996 Capcom video game for Playstation and is still as popular as ever. The film franchise spin-off of the games launched in 2002 and spawned six canonical films. In 2021, a reboot movie called Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City began a new chapter in the franchise. This horror movie franchise is one of the most successful ever, grossing $1,279,538,320 and counting. All six canonical films cracked the list of top fifty highest-grossing movies for their release years, an impressive feat for a horror franchise.
Some of the most popular directors in Hollywood have directed Alien movies, including Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and David Fincher. The franchise centers around one woman’s battles against an aggressive alien lifeform sometimes referred to as a Xenomorph. The franchise has been around since 1979 and has spawned six movies so far. The total gross for all six movies is $1,653,812,293, placing it among the top highest-grossing film franchises ever made, regardless of genre. Supposedly, a television adaptation of the franchise is in pre-development as of 2022.
For a film franchise that has only been around since 2013, The Conjuring has covered a lot of ground. To date, there are seven movies in the franchise. Michael Chaves is currently filming the eighth movie, and a ninth movie is also in development. To date, the franchise has grossed an impressive $2,128,077,472. A DC comic book line was launched in March of 2021, and a potential television series was also announced. By all accounts, The Conjuring has plenty more to offer horror fans, and the franchise is just getting started.