When you think about the month of December, chances are you don’t automatically think of successful horror movies. And yet, the 12th month of the year has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to scary flicks at the box office. For that very reason, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most successful horror movies to release in Decembers past and see just how successful some of them were. You might be surprised!
*The following films are ranked in ascending order based on their adjusted box office gross:
The Wolf Man
Release date: Dec. 12, 1941
Box office gross: N/A
Adjust box office gross: N/A
Back when The Wolf Man was released, it was not the practice to report a film’s box office haul. Thus, we don’t have the numbers available for you.
Release date: Dec. 7, 2007
Box office gross: $7,161,284
Adjust box office gross: $8,993,413.87
The Orphanage is objectively the weakest performer on this list (again, we know not how The Wolf Man fared). That hasn’t stopped the film from since becoming a cult horror hit.
Black Christmas (2019)
Release date: Dec. 13, 2019
Box office gross: $10,429,730
Adjust box office gross: $10,622,734.90
The latest Black Christmas remake could never be mistaken for either of its predecessors. It has an identity all its own. Unfortunately, it also hauled in the smallest take to date.
Black Christmas (2006)
Release date: Dec. 25, 2006
Box office gross: $16,273,581
Adjust box office gross: $21,019,073.46
A much more graphic take on the 1974 flick perfect for the age of “torture porn.”
Black Christmas (1974)
Release date: Dec. 20, 1974
Box office gross: $4,053,000
Adjust box office gross: $21,406,745.72
Bob Clark’s original continues to influence films today. And if box office is anything to go by, it’s also the only Black Christmas anybody is interested in tearing into year-in and year-out.
Release date: Dec. 25, 2005
Box office: $16,188,180
Adjust box office gross: $21,583,245.33
Wolf Creek kind of came and went at the box office. That said, it’s gone on to scare up a loyal fanbase with sequels and a television spin-off series.
Release date: Dec. 9, 1983
Box office: $21,017,849
Adjust box office gross: $54,947,747.64
Christine is another John Carpenter project that had minimal box office impact but ultimately went on to inspire a generation of filmmakers.
Release date: Dec. 25, 1998
Box office gross: $40,283,321
Adjust box office gross: $64,351,493.18
Too few eyes have beheld Faculty.
Release date: Dec. 4, 2015
Box office gross: $61,788,393
Adjust box office gross: $67,881,021.52
The only shot to date that Hollywood has taken at the Krampus tale. Judging from its overall intake, it’ll probably remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Release date: Dec. 12, 1997
Box office gross: $101,363,301
Adjust box office gross: $164,447,272.40
One of the better critically received sequels in any horror franchise.
Release date: Dec. 20, 1996
Box office gross: $103,046,663
Adjust box office gross: $171,014,113.99
The OG Scream earned enough to warrant a sequel just a year later. The series has continued to squeeze out one successful follow-up after another, leading up to the release of the fifth film in 2022. It also spawned its own TV series, which lasted three seasons.
I Am Legend
Release date: Dec. 14, 2007
Box office gross: $256,393,010
Adjust box office gross: $321,988,131.15
I Am Legend was the highest-grossing Will Smith vehicle until 2016’s Suicide Squad.
Release date: Dec. 26, 1973
Box office gross: $193,000,000
Adjust box office gross: $1,131,866,756.76
Adjusted for inflation, The Exorcist grossed over a billion dollars at the box office. That was enough to make it the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie of all time until 2017’s It.
Those are the top highest grossing/most notable horror movies to release in the cold month of December! What do you make of the list? Are you surprised by any of the results? Do you think that the box office performance of The Exorcist can ever be topped? Sound off in the comments below and let me and the rest of the movie loving world know your thoughts on the matter!