Horror Movies: it has become commonplace for movies to have large budgets, especially if they’re being produced by major studios. However, there’s one genre that traditionally uses lower budgets – horror films. Despite their low budget, horror movies have a good track record of turning a profit due to the dedication of horror fans. Take, for instance, the movie Paranormal Activity which was made with only $15,000 in 2007. However, after Paramount acquired its rights and released it in 2009, it made a whopping $194 million worldwide.
Horror movies offer a lot of flexibility to experiment with the story and execution. It allows filmmakers to be creative, even with low budgets. Although, occasionally, some horror movies do get larger budgets compared to other films in the genre. This isn’t surprising, given the popularity of horror movies and advancements in technology. Although, having a huge budget doesn’t always guarantee success at the box office, there are instances when it pays off.
If you’re curious about the most expensive horror movies ever made, I can help you with that! Using data from IMDB and Watch Mojo, I’ve compiled a list of the 15 most expensive horror movies ever made, along with their box office gross.
The Ring (2002) – Budget $48M
Have you heard the urban legend about a videotape that’s said to kill anyone who watches it within seven days? Well, it turns out that it’s not just a myth. After a journalist’s niece dies shortly after viewing the tape, she discovers that the story is true and that she and her son are also in danger. The Ring is a well-known horror movie that is often cited as one of the genre’s most prominent films. It certainly has some pretty intense moments that are sure to give you chills.
The filmmakers behind The Ring weren’t afraid to spend some serious cash to make the movie as scary as possible. With a budget of $48 million, it’s clear that they spared no expense to create a truly frightening experience. But, as it turned out, their investment paid off big time. The movie made more than five times its budget at the global box office, earning over $249 million during its theatrical run. It’s safe to say that The Ring was a massive success and cemented its place in the horror movie hall of fame.
Sleepy Hollow (1999) – Budget $70M
Sleepy Hollow, directed by Tim Burton, is a thrilling movie that follows Ichabod Crane, played by Johnny Depp, as he tries to solve the mysterious murders of three townspeople by the infamous Headless Horseman, played by Christopher Walken. Originally, the filmmakers planned on shooting the film in the United States with a budget of $30 million. However, they ultimately decided to move the production to England, hoping to find a suitable small town for filming. Unfortunately, they were unable to find the perfect location, so they ended up spending a lot more than they originally planned.
According to Watch Mojo, the budget for Sleepy Hollow ballooned to a staggering $70 million so they could construct a town that perfectly captured the essence of Sleepy Hollow. Although it was an expensive undertaking, it seems to have paid off as the film grossed over $209 million worldwide, making it a box office success. Clearly, the filmmakers’ decision to invest in creating the perfect atmosphere and setting for Sleepy Hollow was worth it in the end.
Signs (2002) – Budget $72M
Signs is a movie that follows Graham Hess, played by Mel Gibson, a preacher who has lost faith in God after his wife dies in a tragic accident. He moves in with his brother and his children to try to start a new life, but strange things start happening when crop circles begin to appear on their property. At first, Graham dismisses the strange phenomenon, but when similar occurrences are reported all over the world, he starts to wonder if something bigger is at play.
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, M. Night Shyamalan was a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood, and Signs was no exception. With a budget of $72 million, the film was a big investment, but it more than paid off. Signs grossed over $408 million worldwide, almost six times what it cost to make. Clearly, audiences couldn’t get enough of the suspense and mystery that Shyamalan is known for. Signs is just one example of Shyamalan’s ability to captivate audiences with his unique storytelling and direction.
Alien: Resurrection (1997) – Budget $75M
Alien: Resurrection is the fourth installment in the iconic Alien film franchise, featuring Sigourney Weaver as the beloved Ellen Ripley. However, in this film, Ripley is actually a human/alien hybrid clone, set two centuries after her original character’s death. The plot follows Ripley as she teams up with a crew of space pirates to prevent the aliens from reaching Earth.
Interestingly, Sigourney Weaver initially refused to reprise her role in the film, but eventually changed her mind. When asked why she reconsidered, she humorously replied that the filmmakers “basically drove a dump truck full of money to my house.” It’s a lighthearted response, but it’s clear that the film had a substantial budget of $75 million.
Despite mixed reviews, Alien: Resurrection was a financial success, grossing over $161 million at the global box office. The continued popularity of the Alien franchise and Weaver’s return as Ripley likely contributed to its success, proving that even decades after the original film’s release, audiences were still captivated by this thrilling sci-fi/horror universe.
It Chapter Two (2019) – Budget $79M
It Chapter Two continues the story of the Losers Club 27 years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise in Derry. They return to their hometown when they hear that the clown has reemerged and is once again causing chaos. While It Chapter Two didn’t perform as well financially as its predecessor, it was still given a larger budget of $79 million compared to the original budget of $35 million for It. Despite this, the sequel was a success among fans and received moderate critical acclaim. It went on to make $473 million at the global box office, which is almost six times what it cost to make. Notably, It Chapter Two was the highest grossing horror movie of the 2010s.
The Haunting (1999) – Budget $80M
The Haunting, a horror movie remake of the 1963 film with the same name, boasted an impressive cast including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, Liam Neeson, and Lili Taylor. The story follows a team of paranormal experts as they investigate a haunted house, only to face a terrifying battle for survival as the house fights back. The film was directed by Jan De Bont, who had previous box office success with films like Speed and Twister, which may have contributed to the studio’s decision to spend $80 million on the remake. Although it was not well-received by critics, The Haunting still managed to earn a profit by grossing over $177 million worldwide.
Hannibal (2001) – Budget $87M
In Hannibal, a follow-up to the Academy Award-winning horror movie The Silence of the Lambs, we see Anthony Hopkins reprise his role as Hannibal Lecter, now living in Italy after his escape. He contacts former FBI agent Clarice Starling, played by Julianne Moore, but their reunion doesn’t go as planned when Hannibal becomes the target of one of his former victims. The movie was given a budget of $87 million, which is quite a lot of money, but it paid off since it earned a massive $351.6 million worldwide. This means it made over four times what it cost to produce the film. Additionally, Hannibal was the highest grossing horror movie of the 2000s.
Hollow Man (2001) – Budget $95M
In the movie Hollow Man, a group of scientists invent a method to turn animals invisible and then test the procedure on a human, with Dr. Sebastian Caine (played by Kevin Bacon) as the subject. However, when the experiment becomes irreversible, it has a negative impact on Caine’s personality and he ends up killing his colleagues. Although critics didn’t like the movie, it still made almost the same amount of money as it cost to make. The budget for the film was $95 million, and it earned $190 million globally. Despite the negative reviews, it was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
End of Days (1999) – Budget $100M
In End of Days, the Devil decides to possess a man in New York City in order to find his bride, Christine York. If they have a child before midnight on New Year’s Eve, it will bring about the end of the world. Jericho Cane, a former cop who doesn’t believe in God, is tasked with stopping him. Interestingly, Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role of Jericho, which was originally intended for Tom Cruise. Despite receiving negative reviews, the movie was made with a budget of $100 million and managed to make $211.9 million at the box office, even though it only earned $66.8 million in the United States.
What Lies Beneath (2000) – Budget $100M
In What Lies Beneath, directed by Robert Zemeckis, the audience is left wondering whether the lakeside Vermont house is really haunted or if Claire Spencer (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) is just losing her mind. To answer this question, Zemeckis and the studio poured in a whopping $100 million, but it paid off big time as the movie grossed over $291 million worldwide and earned over $191 million in profit. While critics had mixed opinions on the film, audiences loved it, and it ended up being the eighth highest grossing movie of 2000.
Prometheus (2012) – Budget $130M
Although it may not be the first horror movie that comes to mind, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is a prequel to his iconic Alien franchise and definitely packs a terrifying punch. A team of scientists searching for clues to the origin of humanity stumbles upon a structure on a distant moon, only to discover they are not alone. With a budget of $130 million, Prometheus was a large-scale production that aimed to awe and scare audiences alike. And it did just that, grossing over $403 million worldwide and becoming a commercial success.
I Am Legend (2007) – Budget $150M
In I Am Legend, a deadly virus has wiped out most of humanity, and the few who remain have turned into terrifying monsters. Will Smith plays Dr. Robert Neville, the last man on Earth who is immune to the virus. He spends his days hunting for food and supplies and his nights hiding from the infected creatures that roam the streets. Neville’s main goal is to develop a cure for the virus using his own immune blood. The movie had a budget of $150 million, a significant amount of money, but it proved to be a wise investment as it earned over $585 million worldwide. Critics had mixed opinions, but Will Smith’s performance was widely praised, and audiences loved the film.
The Wolfman (2010) – Budget $150M
In The Wolfman, an American man named Lawrence Talbot (Benecio Del Toro) travels to Victorian era London to reconcile with his father, but ends up getting bitten by a werewolf. This turns him into a flesh-hungry beast. Originally, the movie was supposed to be directed by Mark Romanek, but Joe Johnston ended up directing it instead. The film was given a budget of $85 million, but it took much longer than expected to film and the budget eventually ballooned to $150 million. Unfortunately, the film did not do well at the box office, only earning $139.7 million in total.
Van Helsing (2004) – Budget $160M
In 2004, Universal Pictures released the fantasy-horror movie Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman as the iconic monster hunter. Jackman’s Van Helsing was tasked by the Vatican to stop the evil Count Dracula from using Dr. Frankenstein’s research to create a monster army. Along the way, he also has to fight a werewolf, adding another monster to the mix. The movie’s domestic gross of $120 million would usually be a good number for most movies, but Van Helsing had a massive budget of $160 million. Fortunately, the movie was able to earn an impressive $180 million overseas, resulting in a worldwide gross of $300 million. Without the international sales, the movie would have barely broken even, falling $40 million short of the budget, which is rare for a horror movie.
World War Z (2013) – Budget $190M
In World War Z, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is tasked with investigating a deadly virus that is turning people into zombies, putting the world’s population at risk. Despite facing unimaginable dangers, Lane travels the world to find a way to stop the spread of the virus and prevent the end of civilization as we know it. The movie was initially given a $125 million budget, but due to rewrites and reshoots, the budget ballooned to $190 million. While this may seem like a bad omen for the film’s financial prospects, the Brad Pitt-led zombie flick defied the odds and went on to become the highest grossing zombie movie of all time, raking in a whopping $540 million worldwide.