The Highest Grossing Supernatural Horror Movies Of All Time

IT was never expected to be the huge hit that it has become. And yet, the film hasn't just been the biggest movie at the box office for the last two weeks. It's actually one of the biggest films of its genre ever made, even after only a couple of weeks.

Supernatural horror is a specific genre that tries to scare the audience by putting its characters up against otherworldly forces seemingly too powerful to overcome. It's a popular genre, to be sure, but could IT become the biggest entry of them all? Here's a look at the 10 biggest box office winners of all time in the supernatural horror genre, and where IT currently stands among them.

Paranormal Activity 3

10. Paranormal Activity 3 - $104 Million

The Paranormal Activity franchise was always good for a box office win, mostly because the series was cheap to make, meaning the movies didn't actually need to make that much to be deemed successful. However, more than one of the films have also been serious box office contenders, regardless of budget. The third entry in the franchise sneaks into the top 10 just ahead of another horror sequel, the recent The Conjuring 2. Paranormal Activity 3 has the distinction of being one of the few franchise entries that actually got decent reviews, which is probably why this is the only sequel in the franchise that made the top 10.

paranormal activity

9. Paranormal Activity - $107 Million

Just ahead of the third entry in the Paranormal Activity franchise is the one that started it all. The found footage franchise built its success on a remarkable advertising campaign that had horror fans seeking out screenings of the movie. Before the franchise was driven into the ground, the movie scared a lot of people, and all without really showing anything in the realm of ghosts or monsters. It just goes to show how much the unknown alone can be terrifying. Considering the budget for this is reported to have been all of $15,000, this may be one of the most profitable movies ever made.

The Grudge

8. The Grudge - $110 Million

In the early 2000s, Hollywood had a fair amount of success remaking Japanese horror movies for a western audience. One of those big successes was The Grudge. The movie starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, which may have gone a long way in making the movie the success that it was. The movie was released shortly after the end of Gellar's run on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, so fans who wanted their Buffy fix had to check this one out. The movie went on to be a solid hit, good enough for the eighth spot in the top 10.

The Ring

7. The Ring - $129 Million

Of course, part of the reason that The Grudge was made in the first place is because The Ring had been made two years earlier and was an even bigger hit. It was also based on a Japanese horror film, and told the story of a haunted videotape that killed everybody who watched it. It was such a success that it spawned two sequels, including one that came out fairly recently, although neither of them were nearly as successful as this movie. The era for this idea may have passed, but it doesn't change the fact that The Ring was a massive hit in its day.

The Conjuring

6. The Conjuring - $137 Million

A relatively recent addition to the list, The Conjuring was such a successful horror movie that it has launched its own cinematic universe. We've seen sequels and spinoffs and sequels to the spinoffs, and more movies are planned. Yet, none of them have done as well as the one that started it all. The film is based on the lives of the couple that first investigated the events known as the Amityville Horror, but the franchise has expanded so far beyond any of that, that it's taken on a life of its own. It's hard to believe any future spinoff will do as well as this movie, but time will tell.

The Blair Witch Project

5. The Blair Witch Project - $140 Million

The Blair Witch Project didn't invent the found footage genre, but it was responsible for introducing the concept to millions of moviegoers. The unique device, combined with it being the early days of the internet, had many people wondering if the events of the movie might have been real. This drove crowds to see what all the fuss was about, turning a movie with a $60,000 budget into a $140 million juggernaut. The recent sequel showed that this movie was truly a product of its age, but if you were there at the time, the movie might still give you chills.

What Lies Beneath

4. What Lies Beneath - $155 Million

If there's a film in the top 10 that's surprising, it may be this little thriller. What Lies Beneath starred Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeifer, so it certainly wasn't lacking for star power in its day. Having said that, the film doesn't really have the name recognition or iconic status that many of the films on this list have. Still, there was clearly something about this one that brought in the crowds. Maybe people were excited by the idea of seeing Harrison Ford play about as much against type as you could imagine, which is a worthy enough reason to check this one out if you haven't already.


3. IT - $218 Million (Currently)

IT has taken the box office by storm, becoming one of the highest grossing horror movies of all time in just a couple of weeks. While the competition at the box office is going to start to get a bit tougher, IT still has a few weeks of potentially solid performance in front of it, meaning that it might have a chance to move even further up this list before it's all said and done. Even if it does not, it will still likely be one of the highest grossing movies of the year.

The exorcist

2. The Exorcist - $232 Million

It's not too surprising to see one of the most popular horror movies ever made on this list. Having said that, The Exorcist total box office gross is slightly inflated. The movie has seen multiple releases since 1973, and this is the total of all of them combined. In its original release, the film still did nearly $200 million in business, which was more than impressive for the 1970s. The Exorcist is one of the movies that everybody knows, even the people who've never actually seen it. However, there's one film that was even bigger than this one.

The Sixth Sense

1. The Sixth Sense - $293 Million

The clear winner, with nearly $300 million in box office numbers. Nobody knew quite what to expect with the debut feature from M. Night Shyamalan, but all that meant was that people weren't ready for the big twist that made The Sixth Sense a pop culture touchstone. Will any supernatural horror movie ever be able to match the remarkable performance of this one? It will take a serious effort for IT to get this far, but it's far from impossible. We'll be keeping our eyes on it. The Sixth Sense's time at the top of this list may be limited.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.