High-Budget vs Low-Budget Horror Movies: Budgets and Box Office Stats

Do big-budget horror films deliver more scares and more box office dollars than the best low-budget horror films?
Last updated Aug 31, 2021 | By Tracy Odell
Horror Movie Budgets

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Horror movies are one of the most profitable film genres despite budgets that often include high-end special effects and CGI scares. But budgets on these scary flicks can vary greatly and the big box office winners aren't always the movies that spend the most. Just like budgeting your paycheck, it's how you spend, not just how much you spend, that's important.

Below you can compare production budgets for the 50 top-grossing horror movies. You'll see that spending more doesn't always lead to more box office success. All numbers have been adjusted for inflation to make it easier to compare older films with newer films. Studios often don't share production budgets so these are our best estimates after comparing multiple sources.

Production budgets of the top 50 highest-grossing horror movies

Rank Adjusted for Inflation Movie Year Worldwide Box Office Gross (Adjusted for Inflation) Production Budget (Adjusted for Inflation)
1 The Exorcist 1973

$2,216,070,406

$62,101,695

2 Jaws 1975

$2,103,225,366

$53,619,512

3 Jaws 2 1978

$817,746,771

$78,290,598

4 I Am Legend 2007

$779,575,492

$199,709,302

5 It 2017

$715,933,184

$35,741,360

6 Alien 1979

$674,050,453

$39,048,606

7 The Silence of the Lambs 1991

$599,918,460

$43,515,439

8 Hannibal 2001

$566,593,386

$140,798,587

9 Interview with the Vampire 1994

$501,924,463

$112,254,902

10 What Lies Beneath 2000

$490,619,098

$152,949,907

11 Bram Stoker's Dracula 1992

$476,458,376

$88,289,157

12 It: Chapter Two 2019

$469,566,806

$70,000,000

13 Prometheus 2012

$463,118,858

$143,844,221

14 Aliens 1986

$452,570,080

$41,973,046

15 The Blair Witch Project 1999

$447,722,047

$1,081,890

16 The Ring 2002

$391,339,300

$75,676,420

17 Poltergeist 1982

$379,192,903

$33,337,415

18 Sleepy Hollow 1999

$373,375,196

$126,220,472

19 The Nun 2018

$365,386,113

$22,120,746

20 Scream 1996

$358,621,591

$31,085,973

21 The Conjuring 2013

$357,999,843

$22,533,825

22 Alien 3 1992

$349,845,783

$121,397,590

23 Scream 2 1997

$343,975,564

$47,895,425

24 Resident Evil: Afterlife 2010

$343,499,060

$66,755,387

25 A Quiet Place 2018

$336,714,632

$17,093,304

26 The Others 2001

$336,241,681

$27,512,367

27 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter 2017

$332,620,451

$42,358,382

28 The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist 2016

$328,490,730

$42,358,382

29 Hollow Man 2000

$324,933,581

$152,949,907

30 The Haunting 1999

$324,907,553

$144,251,969

31 Alien: Resurrection 1997

$320,699,782

$119,738,562

32 The Amityville Horror 1979

$315,427,045

Unknown

33 Annabelle: Creation 2017

$311,853,441

$15,317,726

34 Devil’s Advocate 1997

$305,348,149

$113,751,634

35 Deep Blue Sea 1999

$297,606,647

$108,188,976

36 Wolf 1994

$294,134,239

$157,156,863

37 Annabelle 2014

$287,988,292

$7,287,638

38 Split 2017

$284,659,095

$9,190,635

39 Resident Evil: Retribution 2012

$276,926,166

$74,798,995

40 The Grudge 2004

$276,247,184

$14,750,403

41 Halloween 1978

$275,089,675

$1,272,222

42 Scream 3 2000

$275,034,652

$67,977,737

43 Anaconda 1997

$273,400,869

$89,803,922

44 A Quiet Place: Part II 2021

$268,842,303

$61,000,000

45 Get Out 2017

$257,848,521

$5,105,909

46 Halloween 2018

$256,798,829

$10,054,885

47 Us 2019

$256,091,919

$20,000,000

48 Frankenstein 1994

$251,465,116

$101,029,412

49 I Know What You Did Last Summer 1997

$249,954,430

$33,925,926

50 Alien: Covenant 2017

$243,573,537

$99,054,627

The money needed to produce a highly-acclaimed horror movie also varies widely. The top two most highly-rated horror movies according to Rotten Tomatoes have budgets of $20 million (Us) and $5 million (Get Out), a 4X difference. On the list of the 50 best horror movies below, you'll see budgets ranging from $43 million (The Silence of the Lambs) all the way down to $167,000 (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).

Production budgets of the 50 best horror movies

Rotten Tomatoes Rank Rotten Tomatoes Rating Movie Year Production Budget

(Adjusted for Inflation)

1 93% Us 2019

$20,000,000

2 98% Get Out 2017

$5,105,909

3 99% The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) 1920

$167,144

4 96% A Quiet Place 2018

$17,093,304

5 97% Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) (Nosferatu the Vampire) 1922

Unknown

6 98% King Kong 1933

$26,763,130

7 96% Psycho 1960

$7,442,532

8 91% The Invisible Man 2020

$7,000,000

9 98% The Bride of Frankenstein 1935

$9,380,000

10 98% The Babadook 2014

$2,242,350

11 100% Frankenstein 1931

$4,865,897

12 90% The Lighthouse 2019

$4,000,000

13 89% Hereditary 2018

$10,054,885

14 98% Let the Right One In 2008

$5,820,132

15 95% It Follows 2015

$2,173,191

16 95% Freaks 1932

$6,002,193

17 97% Night of the Living Dead 1968

$9,116,588

18 97% Aliens 1986

$41,973,046

19 96% The Silence of the Lambs 1991

$43,515,439

20 96% Rosemary's Baby 1968

$22,375,573

21 96% Halloween 1978

$1,272,222

22 98% Eyes Without a Face 1962

Unknown

23 95% Repulsion 1965

$1,630,000

24 95% Pan's Labyrinth 2006

$25,615,100

25 100% Host 2020

Unknown

26 90% The Witch 2016

$3,706,358

27 92% The Cabin in the Woods 2012

$34,522,613

28 94% Possessor: Uncut 2020

Unknown

29 94% The Invisible Man 1933

$6,784,393

30 86% It 2017

$35,741,360

31 95% Don't Look Now 1973

$6,585,598

32 92% Relic 2020

Unknown

33 98% The Friends of Eddie Coyle 1973

Unknown

34 95% The Birds 1963

$29,538,029

35 94% Young Frankenstein 1974

$13,715,508

36 98% The Vanishing (Spoorloos) 1988

$274,668

37 88% Ready or Not 2019

$6,000,000

38 93% Godzilla (Gojira) 1954

$1,782,669

39 92% Drag Me to Hell 2009

$36,640,000

40 96% A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night 2014

$1,167,098

41 95% House of Wax 1953

$10,045,467

42 95% The Fly 1958

$4,659,878

43 94% Dracula 1931

$5,932,877

44 83% Midsommar 2019

$9,000,000

45 93% Carrie 1976

$7,740,845

46 95% Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre) 1979

$5,595,961

47 95% The Evil Dead 1981

$1,090,476

48 94% The Innocents 1961

$12,200,000

49 95% Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn 1987

$8,199,488

50 98% The Loved Ones 2012

$4,603,015

Low-budget vs high-budget horror movies

Which delivers more scares? A high-budget horror movie full of expensive special effects and well-known actors or a low-budget slasher film shot on a shoestring budget?

Below you'll find horror movies made for less than $2 million, followed by a list of some of the most expensive horror films ever made — those costing over $100 million to make.

Low-budget horror movies (under $2 million budget)

Movie Production Budget

(Adjusted for Inflation)

Friday the 13th

$1,872,862

Godzilla (Gojira)

$1,782,669

Repulsion

$1,630,000

Halloween (1978)

$1,272,222

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

$1,167,098

The Evil Dead (1981)

$1,090,476

The Evil Dead

$1,090,476

The Blair Witch Project

$1,081,890

The Invitation

$1,058,960

Paranormal Activity

$797,130

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

$685,775

The Vanishing (Spoorloos)

$274,668

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari)

$167,144

Night of the Living Dead

$114,000

High-budget horror movies (over $100 million budget)

Movie Production Budget (Adjusted for Inflation)
I Am Legend

$199,709,302

Wolf

$157,156,863

What Lies Beneath

$152,949,907

Hollow Man

$152,949,907

The Haunting

$144,251,969

Prometheus

$143,844,221

Hannibal

$140,798,587

Sleepy Hollow

$126,220,472

Alien 3

$121,397,590

Alien: Resurrection

$119,738,562

Devil’s Advocate

$113,751,634

Interview with the Vampire

$112,254,902

Deep Blue Sea

$108,188,976

Frankenstein

$101,029,412

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Author Details

Tracy Odell Tracy Odell is the VP of Content at FinanceBuzz where she leads the talented team of editors and writers who create all of the valuable content you'll find here. Before joining FinanceBuzz, Tracy held roles at Student Loan Hero, Lending Tree, and Parents.