Top 10 Most Expensive Horror Movies
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Expensive Horror Movies.
For this list, we’ll be looking at those movies whose budgets were almost as frightening as their scripts. We’re excluding “I Am Legend,” as that’s really more of an action thriller.
Don’t be scared, but the comments are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!
#10: “Sleepy Hollow” (1999)
If the initial plan for production had taken place, this film would have missed making our list by many millions of dollars. The first “Sleepy Hollow” budget came in at $30 million with the production planning to shoot on location somewhere. However, they couldn’t find a location in the United States that worked. So, they decided to head across the pond to the UK to find one. But, to quote producer Adam Schroeder, “We came to England figuring we would find a perfect little town, and then we had to build it anyway.” It was all that building that ballooned the budget from $30 million to at least $70 million - with some estimates putting it even higher.
#9: “The Haunting” (1999)
Starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor, “The Haunting” was definitely not lacking for star power. And director Jan De Bont had made some very successful films in the past, including “Twister” and “Speed.” So, the studio probably began the process feeling at least somewhat confident dropping $80 million to make it. Unfortunately, the film didn’t feature any tornados or runaway buses. Although the vast majority of audiences and critics didn’t like it, enough people paid to see the film in theaters. “The Haunting” ended up turning a profit, raking in over $180 million worldwide.
#8: “Hannibal” (2001)
In 1991, “The Silence of the Lambs” was a huge financial and critical success. The film raked in over $250 million dollars at the box office and took home five major Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Director, and Picture. And they did it all with a budget of $19 million. Ten years later they made a sequel, “Hannibal,” and gave director Ridley Scott and his team a budget of $87 million. The film was not a critical success and didn’t earn a single Oscar nomination. But it did make over $350 million worldwide, becoming the 10th highest-grossing film of 2001.
#7: “Hollow Man” (2000)
With a budget of $95 million and a less than positive critical response, it might sound odd to say that the filmmakers behind “Hollow Man” spent the money wisely. But they did. The film made about $190 million worldwide, almost exactly double its budget. Of that big budget, $50 million was allocated to the film’s special effects and it shows. And regardless of the negative things most critics had to say about the film, the special effects were generally very highly praised. So much so that the film picked up a visual effects Oscar nomination - ultimately losing to “Gladiator.”
#6: “End of Days” (1999)
For most of the 80s and 90s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood. So, putting him in a $100 million supernatural action-horror film and paying him $25 million of that budget might have seemed like a good idea at the time. Even though - fun fact - the role was written for Tom Cruise, who turned it down to make “Magnolia” instead. And if you just look at the final worldwide gross of over $212 million, it would appear that everything turned out okay. However, almost $150 million of that gross came internationally and the film was critically panned. There are also those who mark the film as the end of Arnold’s guaranteed bankable star status.
#5: “What Lies Beneath” (2000)
Is their house haunted by a ghost or is Michelle Pfeiffer losing her mind? That’s the question being asked in “What Lies Beneath.” To answer that question, director Robert Zemeckis spent $100 Million. Which is a lot of money, especially for a more adult-oriented horror drama film. But, despite mixed reviews from the critics, audiences liked the film. The movie only got a mid-level score on Rotten Tomatoes, but received a B+ in a CinemaScore audience poll. “What Lies Beneath” earned a satisfying $291 million worldwide and was the 10th highest-grossing film of 2000.
#4: “Prometheus” (2012)
Some of the high price tags on this list might come as a surprise to fans. And then there are films like “Prometheus.” Its $120–$130 million budget, while huge, probably won’t shock most filmgoers. Spaceships, visual effects, alien creatures, distant moons… the money, as they say, is on the screen. And if you thought, filming in 3D was a huge added cost, the truth is, doing so only added about $10 million dollars to the budget. The film was generally well-received by critics and audiences, at least upon release. While the reception has grown more bitter with time, the film easily made back its money, grossing over $400 million worldwide.
#3: “The Wolfman” (2010)
A few weeks prior to the start of filming, director Mark Romanek and Universal Studios parted ways over creative and budgetary differences. That’s when Joe Johnston was hired to make the movie. With the understanding that he could do it in the 80 days, and with the $85 million budget the studio was ready to give him. But, as is often the case with filmmaking, things didn’t exactly go as planned. Re-shoots took them well past the 80-day mark, and in the end, the budget almost doubled to $150 million! The film opened on Valentine's Day weekend, but the audience never showed “The Wolfman'' much love, and the movie wasn’t able to make back its inflated budget.
#2: “Van Helsing” (2004)
Usually, a film would be considered successful if it makes $120 million dollars at the North American box office. However, “Van Helsing” was not a ‘usually’ situation. With a budget of at least $160 million, the film was, in 2004, among the ten most expensive movies ever made. For all of you doing some quick math, yes, “Van Helsing” fell $40 million short of just breaking even at the domestic box office. But thankfully for the studio, this monster hunter film was able to hunt down an international audience and bring in an additional $180 million around the world.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“It Chapter Two” (2019), $79 Million
It Wasn’t as Big a Hit as “It” Was, But It Still Made Six Times Its Budget
“Signs” (2002), $72 Million
All Signs Pointed to the Film Being a Hit
“Alien Resurrection” (1997), $70 Million
This 4th Film in the “Alien” Franchise Got a Bigger Budget Than the Previous 3 Movies Had
“Gremlins 2: The New Batch” (1990), $50 Million
Don’t Feed Them After Midnight - Or Spend So Much on a Sequel: It Only Made $41 Million
“The Ring” (2002), $48 Million
It Rung Up a Hefty $249 Million Around the World
#1: “World War Z” (2013)
The film’s initial budget of $125 million would have found it high on the list. But rewrites and seven weeks of reshoots pushed the budget to, at least, $190 million and pushed “World War Z” to number one on our list. Normally, ballooning budgets and last-minute re-shoots and rewrites aren’t good signs for a film’s future success. But this Brad Pitt film ended up snatching $540 million from the worldwide box office and becoming the highest-grossing zombie movie of all time. It also stands as Pitt’s highest-grossing film as a lead.