10 Highest-Grossing Horror Films Ranked
8. Hannibal (2001)
Box Office Total: $350.1million
So exceptional was Jonathan Demme’s multi-time Oscar winner The Silence of the Lambs that Hollywood couldn’t help but to bring Anthony Hopkins’ iconic Hannibal Lecter back for another run, this time through the lens of one of Western cinema’s most reliably profitable directors, Ridley Scott.
Even missing out on Jodie Foster’s return didn’t perturb the studio MGM, and a budget over four times higher than its predecessor was handed to Scott to assemble a who’s who of reputable names in front of and behind the camera, including Gary Oldman, Ray Liotta, Gladiator cinematographer John Mathieson, and iconic composer Hans Zimmer.
The parts were ultimately greater than the whole however, the result being one of the more forgettable horror films on this list; a victim of its own promise. Hannibal (2001) was simply too slick, and lacked the magic created by the chemistry forged between Hopkins and Foster in particular. We all lapped it up – because who wouldn’t want to see Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal again? – but a classic it is not.
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7. I Am Legend (2007)
Box Office Total: $585.5million
2007 horror-blockbuster I Am Legend was a phenomenon in its day. So much so, it was the number one horror movie of all time for an entire decade, and remains the 2nd highest-grossing horror film to this day. Perhaps even more remarkably still, it is the only film on this list to not be a part of a wider film franchise.
Adapted from the 1954 Richard Matheson novel of the same name, I Am Legend is deeply concerned with the human psyche and existential questions but never quite commits to them, instead leaning towards a more sellable and arguably more persistently thrilling blockbuster formula that makes the most of its big-budget graphics and all-American setting: New York City.
With a heart-wrenching few moments that live long in the memory, and all your go-to tropes of star-driven post-apocalyptic cinema, I Am Legend is a worthwhile watch for anyone looking to escape into something mildly sad and scary, but it doesn’t thrill like the films to come on this list, nor does it challenge you as you watch it like the very best of the horror genre.
6. It Chapter Two (2019)
Box Office Total: $468.7million
Andy Muschietti’s Stephen King adaptation It Chapter Two is a surprising rarity within the horror genre: an exceptional sequel to a high quality, big hit original.
Re-imagining the Goonies-style presentation of the 2017 film with a now-adult cast of A-List names, It Chapter Two may have been lacking in the indeterminable magic of what had come before, but its ruminations on nostalgia and trauma make it an affecting film even for those unfamiliar with ordinary horror trappings.
Unfortunately, this sequel garnered only two thirds of the total box office that the original did, perhaps speaking of its lack of ability to hit the nerve of the public and speak in such a timely manner to the audiences of the day, but make no mistake that this is an imaginative and exceptionally photographed movie with heart-stopping moments and hearty principles in equal measure. Horror cinema is all the better for films like It Chapter Two.