The highest-grossing Halloween-season horror hits ... don’t scare their way up the all-time list

An actor holds a knife in an eerily lighted room in the movie “Halloween Kills.”
When you think of the month for horror hits, you think of October, right? Well, the “Halloween” season may churn out gross movies, but not so much the biggest grossers. Pictured: Michael Myers (a.k.a. the Shape) in “Halloween Kills.”
(Ryan Green / Universal Pictures)
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With several (supposedly) scary movies atop the box-office charts right now or about to be released, it seems like that time of year, when all the big horror hits come out, right? Looking at the top-grossers of the genre ... not so much.

As September turned to October, “Saw X” slashed its way to an $18-million opening (about average for the franchise), and “The Nun II” has already risen into the Top 25 all-time highest horror grossers, with more than $230 million worldwide. This month sees the usual gushing of blood-spilling titles, with at least six releases, including “Exorcist: Believer” and “Five Nights at Freddy’s” — the latter tracking, according to some estimates, for a very nice $33-million to $44-million bow. But while the month is closely associated with horror movies (it contains Halloween, after all), it actually hasn’t seen that many all-time hits come out.

On the Numbers’ list of top-grossing horror films, one must go all the way down to No. 17 to find an October release (“Annabelle,” with about $257 million). Only seven October releases make it into the top 50, including: the 2018 “Halloween” reboot/sequel; “The Ring”; “Paranormal Activity 3”; “The Grudge”; “Paranormal Activity 2”; and “Saw III.” In fact, the franchise most closely associated with the month — “Halloween” — is only the 11th-highest-grossing horror franchise (“The Conjuring” universe being first, by a lot, with more than $2.3 billion).


The top-grossing October horror releases (Not adjusted for inflation; all data from the

1. “Annabelle” (2014, $256.9 million worldwide, No. 17-highest grossing horror movie overall)
2. “Halloween” (2018, $255.4 million, No. 18)
3. “The Ring” (2002, $248.2 million, No. 21)
4. “Paranormal Activity 3” (2011, $207 million, No. 32)
5. “The Grudge” (2004, $187.3 million, No. 37)
6. “Paranormal Activity 2” (2010, $177.5 million, No. 42)
7. “Saw III” (2006, $163.9 million, No. 49)
8. “Goosebumps” (2015, $159 million, No. 54)
9. “Devil’s Advocate” (1997, $153 million, No. 58)
10. “Saw II” (2005, $153 million, No. 59)

The top 5 highest-grossing horror movies overall (Not adjusted for inflation; all data from the

1. “It” (Sept. 8, 2017, $701 million)
2. “I Am Legend” (Dec. 14, 2007, $585.5 million)
3. “Jaws” (June 20, 1975, $482.9 million)
4. “It: Chapter Two” (Sept. 6, 2019, $467.6 million)
5. “The Exorcist” (Dec. 26, 1973, $428.2 million)
6. “The Nun” (Sept. 5, 2018, $363.4 million)
7. “Hannibal” (Feb. 9, 2001, $350.1 million)
8. “A Quiet Place” (April 4, 2018, $334.9 million)
9. “The Conjuring” (July 18, 2013, $316.8 million)
10. “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” (Dec. 23, 2016, $314.1 million)