High-Grossing and Gross: 10 Hit Zombie Movies
A huge crowds flocks to a large, isolated building and shuffles quietly into a dark room, drooling at the scent of warm… popcorn. The movie’s a hit! Zombie movies were once pretty niche, but over the last decade or so, undead monsters have gone mainstream. Here are 10 movies that turned the living dead into cold, hard cash.
1. Dawn of the Dead ($55 million)
Expanding on the horrifying premise of its prequel, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn was the zombie-flick prototype that movies like 28 Days Later and the hilarious-yet-heartfelt homage Shaun of the Dead would later build on. The subversive hit not only pioneered the use of gore, it also earned upwards of $55 million.
2. Pet Sematary ($57 million)
The enduringly iconic Stephen King flick (the author adapted the screenplay from his own novel) revolves around a cursed burial ground that grants its occupants new life as violent doppelgangers. Pet Sematary made over $57 million at the box office and contains some of the most quoted and parodied scenes in horror movie history. (“Sometimes dead is better.”)
3. 28 Days Later ($83 million)
Danny Boyle ushered zombies into the new millennium with this apocalyptic masterpiece featuring desperation, devastation and groups of survivors more dangerous than the undead. 28 Days Later‘s fast-moving hordes did swift business at the box office, with a worldwide take more than ten times its $8 million budget.
4. ParaNorman ($100 million)
One more animated blockbuster? Don’t worry, this acclaimed stop-motion comedy (which earned a cool $100 million) is more of a proper zombie movie at heart, and an interesting take on the genre at that. Alongside a coming-of-age story about an unhappy 11-year-old boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in a small New England town who can speak to the dead, the movie features ghouls with very specific pre-death identities and complex origins.
5. Zombieland ($100 million)
This lighthearted, high-energy “zom-com” follows survivors Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin as they navigate an increasingly dangerous post-apocalyptic world. Zombieland hit theaters right as the zombie craze of the last several years started to explode, taking home just over $100 million dollars.
6. Resident Evil ($102 million)
The franchise that kicked off this video-game adaptation by director Paul W. S. Anderson has earned almost a billion dollars worldwide through five movies. Mila Jovovich stars as Alice, an ass-kicking vigilante who battles hordes of undead as well as former employer Umbrella Corporation, the pharmaceutical company whose medical experiments are responsible for a zombie outbreak.
7. Warm Bodies ($117 million)
Set eight years into a zombie apocalypse, the “zom-rom-com” premise of Warm Bodies might sound ludicrous, but the budding relationship between zombie R (Nicholas Hoult) and living survivor Julie (Teresa Palmer) serves as a moving modern-day take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet while it develops into a thrilling genre experiment. It certainly worked for audiences, earning a reported $117 million.
8. Death Becomes Her ($150 million)
This ’90s oddity makes the “zombie” cut just barely, as it features only two undead characters who are as far from traditional zombies as it gets. Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn play a pair of romantic rivals who drink an immortality potion and rely on mutual lover Bruce Willis, a plastic surgeon, to patch them up when they suffer would-be fatal injuries. Panned by critics, the film won an Oscar for its grisly special effects and generated nearly $150 million worldwide.
9. Hotel Transylvania ($358 million)
This animated comedy stars Adam Sandler as a Count Dracula, who’s so fed up with persecution by humans that he starts a secret hotel just for monsters and supernatural beings, complete with zombie bellhops. The silly spookfest grossed an out-of-this-world $358 million.
10. World War Z ($540 million)
The largest-scale zombie flick ever made stars producer Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator who tries to get to the bottom of an outbreak that’s taken over the globe. Speaking of world domination, after a famously troubled production that required major reshoots, the movie went on to make over $540 million at the box office.