The Exorcist and the 10 highest grossing horror movies

PATRICK WILSON as Ed Warren and in New Line Cinema’s horror film “THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
PATRICK WILSON as Ed Warren and in New Line Cinema’s horror film “THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures /

The horror genre will always draw large crowds to movie theaters. Part of the audience enjoys the spooks and thrills, while the rest are likely dragged to the big screen by a friend. Or, perhaps, fans who don't typically seek out horror movies don't mind watching them around the Halloween season. Whatever the case may be, scary movies will always be popular due to the mystery they offer. Humans are curious by nature.

Even though horror pictures are the most popular in the months of September and October, movies in the genre don't rest during the other 10 months. In fact, I would argue that some of the best horror movies were not released during the Halloween season at all. One of my favorite films, for example, is The Conjuring, which was released in the month of July. I also love Hereditary, which premiered in June. And just to include a third, Talk to Me is another favorite, and that movie creeped into theaters in July. So, if you ask me, it looks like summer is the best time for these movies.

In this post, we are listing the 10 highest grossing horror movies of all time. Please note, this is not a list of the BEST films in the genre. So if you don't see your favorite on this list, it doesn't mean it's not amazing. Some movies only get a limited release, this means it's not available in all theaters, which significantly impacts how many people will watch it. Other movies don't perform well in theaters, but are popular once they arrive to a streamer. That said, below are 10 movies that were quick to gather a scary amount of money in theaters.

The 10 highest grossing horror movies

10. Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle: Creation

Box Office:

$306.5 million

Premiere Date:

Aug. 11, 2017

Where to watch today:

Only available to rent or purchase on VOD

At number ten, we have Annabelle: Creation, part of The Conjuring universe. This is a great movie, but I don't think it should be in the top 10, there are far better scares that should take its place. At the time of Annabelle: Creation's release, the horror series was wildly popular, though, so it makes sense why it drew such a huge crowd and scored $306.5 at the box office world wide.

The movie is the fourth installment in the Conjuring series and serves as a prequel to 2014's Annabelle, introducing fans to the origin of the sinister doll. Creation stars Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, and others. Unfortunately, if you want to watch Annabelle: Creation today, you'll need to rent or purchase the movie on VOD as it is not available on any streaming platforms.

9. The Conjuring

The Conjuring

Box Office:

$319.4 million

Premiere Date:

July 19, 2013

Where to watch today:

Stream The Conjuring on Max

I'm glad to see one of my favorite horror movies on this list. The Conjuring kicked off a successful and massive horror franchise that is still going on today. The movie stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorrain Warren, respectively. The Warrens are known as two of the most popular paranormal investigators and demonologists in the 1950s.

Part of what makes this movie so great, are the performances from Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. The actors share incredible chemistry and are no strangers to the horror genre. Stream The Conjuring today on Max for free as part of your subscription.

8. The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2

Box Office:

$320.3 million

Premiere Date:

June 10, 2016

Where to watch today:

Hulu, Sling TV, or rent on VOD

The Conjuring 2 gathered more at the box office than the original, which should tell you a lot about how popular and loved this horror franchise is. And its success is more than just numbers, the movie does not disappoint! In fact, it's probably scarier than the first.

In this sequel, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as Ed and Lorraine Warren. This time, the paranormal investigators head to England to help the Hodgson family in a case that is now known as the Enfield Poltergeist. The movie plays on Sling TV and Hulu (with a premium subscription) or rent or buy on VOD.

7. A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place

Box Office:

$340.9 million

Premiere Date:

April 6, 2018

Where to watch today:

Stream A Quiet Place on Paramount+

I'll be honest, I almost did not include A Quiet Place in this list. Some may argue that this movie doesn't fall under the horror genre. Technically, A Quiet Place is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror. But the movie was such a surprise hit that I'd say it deserves a spot here.

Directed by John Krasinski, A Quiet Place follows a family struggling to survive a world that has been taken over by alien creatures who hunt by using their sense of hearing. The movie stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe. Fans can stream the movie today on the Paramount+ platform.

6. The Nun

The Nun

Box Office:

$365.5 million

Premiere Date:

Sept. 7, 2018

Where to watch today:

Watch The Nun on Hulu with a premium account

The Nun is, you guessed it, yet another installment in The Conjuring series (the fifth chapter). The fact that The Conjuring is one of the best and most successful horror franchises is not up for discussion! However, I still am surprised to see The Nun so high on the list. I'm not saying it's not a great horror movie, but I can definitely think of other titles that I would be fine taking this spot.

This is the fifth chapter in The Conjuring universe. The Nun follows Sister Irene (portrayed by Taissa Farmiga), a young nun who arrives to Romania and, along with Father Burke (Demian Bichir), uncover dark, sinister secrets. A sequel, The Nun II, premiered in Sept. 8, 2023, it sits at number 13 on the highest grossing horror movies list, not too shabby! Watch The Nun on Hulu with a premium subscription, and its sequel is available on both Hulu and the Max streaming platform.

5. Signs


Box Office:

$408.2 million

Premiere Date:

Aug. 2, 2002

Where to watch today:

Watch Signs for free on Sling TV.

I know I am not the only millennial who watched Signs a little too young and therefore had nightmares for weeks! To this day, I can't watch the movie without getting freaked out. If you have not yet watched Signs, you're missing out! And since we are finding this movie at number five on this list, audiences clearly agree Signs is one of the best in the genre. The movie follows a widowed man, his two young children, and his brother living in Pennsylvania as extraterrestrials descend.

Signs premiere in theaters on Aug. 2, 2002, and accumulated a worldwide total of $408.2 million. For a sci-fi horror, this is a very impressive number. The movie continues to be a horror classic today and cult favorite. Signs stars Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, and Abigail Breslin. The movie is rated PG-13 for "some frightening moments." Fans can watch Signs for free on Sling TV.

4. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist (1973)

Box Office:

$441. 3 million

Premiere Date:

Dec. 26, 1973

Where to watch today:

Watch the movie for free on Sling TV

The Conjuring universe may be a modern horror franchise, but before that existed, there was The Exorcist, and boy did it scare our pants off! The 1973 supernatural classic is based on the 1971 novel by William Peter Blatty. The story follows a desperate mother running out of options to help her young daughter who is under the possession of a demon. Now, the movie did premiere in 1973, so this movie was terrifying at that time, to say the least. I still find it scary today! The fact that the movie was released on Dec. 26 is the cherry on top!

The Exorcist stars Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, and Linda Blair. The movie is rated R for strong language and disturbing images. You can watch The Exorcist today for free on Sling TV.

3. It: Chapter Two

It: Chapter Two

Box Office:

$473 million

Premiere Date:

Aug. 26, 2019

Where to watch today:

To watch It: Chapter Two, you'll need to rent or purchase the movie on VOD

It: Chapter Two is one of the newer movies on this list and, if you were to ask me, it's one of the most frightening, too! I'm not afraid of clowns, but that doesn't mean Pennywise isn't the most terrifying creature we have EVER seen. There are some scenes I can still not watch as well as moments that make me jump as if I were seeing the movie for the first time.

Another amazing reason why it's amazing to see this movie here, is that it is a prequel to It (2017). The original Pennywise story was told in two parts as a TV miniseries, so it makes sense that it is broken up into two movies. After all, it's a long story. But it is still surprising to see a sequel perform so well. It: Chapter Two follows the "losers club" 30 years after the events of the first movie.

2. The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense

Box Office:

$672.8 million

Premiere Date:

Aug. 6, 1999

Where to watch today:

Watch The Sixth Sense with a Hulu Premium subscription

The psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan shocked fans across the globe with a twist very few saw coming. If you haven't seen the movie, I won't spoil it for you here. But, come on, the movie came out in 1999. If you haven't watched it, that's on you!

The Sixth Sense follows Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), a child psychologist who finds himself helping a patient who claims to see and talk to the dead. That is really all you need to know about the movie. If I were you, I would go into it blind for the best experience.

The movie also stars Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, and Haley Joel Osment. It is rated PG-13 for intense thematic material and violent images. Watch The Sixth Sense on Hulu.

1. It (2017)

It (2017)

Box Office:

$701.8 million

Premiere Date:

Sept. 8, 2017

Where to watch today:

Rent or purchase the movie on VOD

The sequel is at number three on this list and the first part is ruling the top 10 at number one. It (2017) is also known as It: Chapter One, the story follows Stephen King's 1986 novel of the same name. It introduces Pennywise, one of the most frightening creatures in horror history.

It: Chapter One follows The Losers' Club, a group of friends who bond over a tragedy and curse that hunts their town. The movie stars Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, and Wyatt Oleff. It is only available to stream if you rent or purchase the movie via VOD.

Did any of these movies surprise you? How many have you seen?

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