Thanks to the likes of IT and Get Out, 2017 is officially horror’s biggest year. One of cinema’s oldest genres, horror has evolved an awful lot in the past century or so, blending seamlessly with other types – monsters, sci-fi, slashers, supernatural and gore are all major subgenres that have come in and out of popularity – to never truly go away.
That said, it feels like we’re in the middle of a real horror renaissance at the moment. Some of the year’s best-reviewed films come from the genre and the box office is dependably topped by a wide range of chilling, intense or otherwise scary outings. And you’re not imagining this success.
The New York Times has released a study (with data compiled by BoxOfficeMojo) on the financial success of horror over the past five decades which confirms that 2017 has by far been the most financially successful year ever in the world of horror – largely due to IT and Get Out. This year’s horror films have brought in $733 million in ticket sales, and there’s still two months to go.
Going back over the last several decades, the article looks at which scary movies were the most financially successful in previous hit years. While some of the most acclaimed horror movies ever made came out of the 1970s – including The Exorcist and Alien – and the 80s saw the rise of slasher franchises including Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, neither decade’s biggest year broke $300 million overall. The numbers took a big jump in the 1990s, with 1999 making over $500 million, largely due to the amazing success of The Blair Witch Project. 2000 did one better, bringing in making over $600 million. It should be noted that there were no adjustments for inflation made.
With 2017 not even over yet, horror clearly dominates. IT actually has the distinction of being the most financially successful horror film of all time; it is the only movie in the genre’s history to make over $300 million domestically. And while the box office overall has struggled this past summer, IT achieved that level of success in September – after the summer blockbuster season. Meanwhile, Get Out remains the most profitable movie of 2017, having been made for under 10 million dollars and making $251 million.
These numbers don’t even include the several horror films only just released in time for Halloween, including Happy Death Day and Jigsaw. If studios want 2018 or 2019 to top the success of 2017 when it comes to horror films, they certainly have their work cut out for them.
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