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Top 10 Biggest Horror Box Office Openings of All Time

IT PENNYWISE

The official final numbers aren’t even in yet, but IT is set to have the biggest opening weekend ever for a horror film. But just how high is Andy Muschietti’s film floating above the competition?

Of course, there are always blurred lines when it comes to what counts as horror or not (N.B. yes, IT, the film about a child-eating clown monster is a goddamn horror movie!). Films like World War Z, Prometheus, Godzilla, I Am Legend, The Mummy Returns, Signs, Jurassic Park and Van Helsing are undoubtedly inspired by horror, but I’ve excluded them here as I consider them to operate more as action adventure or sci-fi films, not to mention their blockbuster budgets: likewise, the Scary Movie films, which did big business, but were viewed by most as comedies. But I’d say it’s hard to argue with this list of top 10 domestic opening weekends (all figures thanks to Box Office Mojo):

  • IT (2017) – $117,150,000 (estimated)
  • Hannibal (2001) – $58,003,121
  • Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) – $52,568,183
  • The Village (2004) – $50,746,142
  • The Conjuring (2013) – $41,855,326
  • Shutter Island (2010) – $41,062,440
  • Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) – $40,678,424
  • Friday the 13th (2009) – $40,570,365
  • The Conjuring 2 (2016) – $40,406,314
  • Insidious Chapter 2 (2013)- $40,272,103

That means that, unless the Sunday estimates don’t hold up, IT will have doubled the previous record holder. And, if anything, the numbers could creep up a little.

But what about inflation, I hear you cry! Well, that’s where this weekend becomes even more impressive. The Stephen King adaptation still comes out on top when inflation is taken into account:

  • IT (2017) – $117,150,000 (estimated)
  • Hannibal (2001) – $91,103,800
  • Interview with the Vampire (1994) – $77,393,400
  • The Village (2004) – $72,646,200
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – $65,382,600
  • Scream 2 (1997) – $63,772,400
  • Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) – $59,684,700
  • The Haunting (1999) – $58,511,500
  • Scream 3 (2000) – $57,254,500
  • The Grudge (2004) – $56,015,200

Suffice to say, this is unprecedented for a horror film. At this rate, there’s every chance IT becomes the highest grossing horror film of all time in the US. A mere 2.5x multiplier (totally possible – Annabelle: Creation is at 2.75x already) gets the film above The Sixth Sense’s $294m gross in 1999.

One record IT won’t be breaking, however, is the highest grossing horror film adjusted for inflation. The Exorcist will continue to hold that crown safe for a long while yet, given that film’s (deep breath!) $983m adjusted total, including reissues.

Not that any of us needed the memo, but horror is box office gold. Always has been; always will be. Maybe this is the film that will finally make the studios start paying attention…



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