Horror By The Numbers: The Highest Grossing Franchises

The 1980’s gave some truly unique horror movies, and a lot of those successful films were turned into franchises. Most had a great starting film, but somewhere down the line things became formulaic and created horror clichés. Eventually, most of the franchises had a film that breathed new life into the series. In fact, a lot of the films on this list were even rebooted in an attempt to recreate the magic that enchanted audiences so many years before. Even 30 to 40 years after these films premiered, there are still movies being added to the canon. Not all movies that got a franchise deserved it, looking at you Leprechaun, but some movies became classics with extremely successful sequels. This list takes a look at a handful of the most successful horror franchises of all time.

A few things to note; these numbers have not been changed to reflect inflation, and while some films like Alien would make the list, not every movie in those franchises are specifically horror.

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Child’s Play

126.1 million | 6 films

Through 6 movies, soon to be 7, the serial killer possessed Chucky doll, tries to get into a human body. Curse of Chucky was not theatrically released.

Highest Grossing

Child’s Play (1988) | $33.2 million

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Lowest Grossing

Child’s Play 3 (1991) | $15 million

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

197.1 million | 7 films

Following Leatherface, the human mask wearing, chainsaw wielding murderer. There are currently 7 movies in the series, but a new theatrical release is scheduled for October.

Highest Grossing

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) |
$80.6 million

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Lowest Grossing

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994) | $185.9 thousand

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Final Destination

263.5 million | 5 films

When a group of young adults escape death, death tracks them, picking off the would-be-victims one by one in elaborate ways.

Highest Grossing

The Final Destination (2009) | $66.5 million

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Lowest Grossing

Final Destination 5 (2011) | $42.6 million

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Halloween

308.5 million | 10 films

Serial killer Michael Myers stalks what’s left of his family, killing everyone in his way….most of the movies anyway.

Highest Grossing

Halloween (2007) | $58.3 million

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Lowest Grossing

Halloween 5 (1989) | $11.6 million

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The Exorcist

331.6 million | 6 films

A series of films based around the novel The Exorcist mixing spinoffs, sequels, and prequels.

Highest Grossing

Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) |
$41.8 million

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Lowest Grossing

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) | Limited Release

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Scream

331.7 million | 4 films

Wes Craven’s series follows the “serial killer” Ghostface, while expertly picking apart the horror movie genre.

Highest Grossing

Scream (1996) | $103 million

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Lowest Grossing

Scream 4 (2011) | $38.2 million

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A Nightmare on Elm Street

370.5 million | 9 films

The series follows Freddy Krueger as he jumps from nightmare to nightmare murdering children.

Highest Grossing

Freddy vs. Jason (2003) | $82.6 million

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Lowest Grossing

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) | $18.1 million

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Friday the 13th

383.3 million | 12 films

Jason Voorhees died at Camp Crystal Lake because the camp counselors neglected him. His mother avenged his death, and now Jason avenges her death, at least that’s how the series started.

Highest Grossing

Freddy vs. Jason (2003) | $82.6 million

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Lowest Grossing

Jason X (2001) | $13.1 million

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Paranormal Activity

401.4 million | 6 films

A family is haunted with some possessions by a demon and a cult. Starting out simple, the series became more complicated.

Highest Grossing

Paranormal Activity (2007) |
$107.9 million

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Lowest Grossing

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) | $18.3 million

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Saw

415.9 million | 7 films

A series of graphic, gruesome traps set by serial killer Jigsaw and a friend. The film had a final chapter, but in October another entry in the series will test the limits of its audience again.

Highest Grossing

Saw II (2005) | $87 million

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Lowest Grossing

Saw VI (2009) | $27 million

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About Mike Cramer 32 Articles
Michael Cramer is an ambitious 20-something go-getter who is always looking for his next step up the corporate ladder. Nah, he's just a guy who loves horror movies and wants others to hear his opinions like "that movie was great" and "that could have been better".

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