If jump scares and thrills sound like your cup of tea for movies, horror films won’t disappoint.
I think that’s why I love writing the horror genre so much – the idea of something lurking in the shadows, waiting to jump out and surprise me. It’s a thrilling experience to be scared out of my wits by a movie or book, but there’s still a certain comfort that comes with knowing it’s not real!
Regardless of the approach, the genre’s goal is simple — to scare, shock, and even repulse viewers enough to keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.
But how popular are horror films? Let’s look at some horror movie statistics and see what others think about it!
Studio Horror Movie Statistics
We’re going to start with a look at some statistics that relate to popular studio horror movies.
Of the 35 horror films released in 2023, Scream VI by Paramount Pictures has the highest domestic gross of over $108 million.
As of August 2023, Insidious: The Red Door is the highest-grossing horror film worldwide, with a box office earning of $182.5 million.
The 1960 film Psycho is the most referenced horror movie in other films at 61%.
The Conjuring Universe holds the title for the highest-grossing horror movie franchise with eight films, racking up to $2.1 billion in earnings.
Saw is the most profitable low-budget horror film, grossing 8,684% more than its production budget.
Despite hit movies like The Purge, Paranormal Activity, and Insidious, Statista records 56% of Gen Z who’ve never heard of Blumhouse Productions.
Interest in horror movies shows a steady rise from a 2.69% box office share in 2014 jumping to 12.75% in 2021.
2017’s It film is hailed as the highest-grossing horror movie of all time, raking over $701 million at the worldwide box office.
Horror Audience Statistics
Now, let’s look at some interesting statistics about horror audiences in recent years!
Horror films are Gen Z’s third favorite genre, garnering 28% votes just behind Comedy (48%) and Action (29%).
32% of Americans prefer watching classic horror movies.
Among its subgenres, psychological horror gets the highest approval from viewers at 55%.
44% of people who watch horror movies prefer viewing them at night.
64% of viewers, both fans and non-fans, like watching horror shows at home rather than in the theater.
Demonic possession and slasher films are two of the least favorite horror movie subgenres by the general population, gaining 38% and 36%, respectively.
Most Americans who watch horror movies belong to the working class. 21% are in the upper and middle class, 32% are in the lower middle class, 22% are in the skilled working class, and 25% are in the working or non-working class.
The horror genre is most popular among the 18 to 29 age groups at 68% and least popular for ages 65+ at 30%.
Indie Horror Movie Statistics
OK, this part is my favorite! As an indie filmmaker myself, my heart lies with these independent movies!
Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981) remains one of the best success stories in indie horror filmmaking. With a low budget between $350,000 to $375,000, the film was a financial success, grossing $2.4 million domestically.
Paranormal Activity (2009) by Blumhouse Productions is a massive success for modern indie horror, grossing up to $200 million globally from its reported budget of $15,000.
2023 saw a recent success, with Skinamarink earning over $1.5 million from its meager $15,000 budget.
Just 10 independent horror filmmakers created some of the creepiest, low-budget horror movies you’ve seen, like Spiral, Saw II, and The Living and the Dead.
At least 16 indie horror movie distributors are home to some of the most disturbing movies like Drag Me to Hell, Get Out, and Terrifier.
Horror Fan Statistics
51% of paranormal horror fans are male.
Horror fans tend to spend more on snacks while watching their favorite films. They spend 30% more on caramel corn and 52% more on marshmallows than the average consumer.
40% of horror audiences are millennials.
60% of horror fans are women.
Around 56% of horror movie fans have never been married, divorced, or widowed.
Fans of sci-fi and paranormal horror subgenres watch movies in theaters 12 times or more than the average moviegoer.
25% of supernatural horror fans show higher tendencies to purchase tickets for other genres like thrillers.
Sci-fi horror movie fans have top three favorite genres — 60% action, 9% comedy, and 6% biography.
56% of horror movie fans watch the show for suspense, 37% for the thrill, and 44% for the adrenaline rush.
Now let’s look at some predictions for the future of horror movies!
North America, comprised of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, will continue to lead the horror film market.
Streaming services like Netflix will continue to produce spooky films to delight its horror fan subscribers.
People will return to viewing horror films on the big screen to enjoy that collective ‘scare experience’ in the dark.
Interest in horror movies will continue to impact other related video content, like video games. Younger generations who watch horror films will likely become gaming enthusiasts, too.
Post-apocalyptic shows will be a recurring theme for horror movies as a reflection of current societal issues like economic decline, terrorism, and global warming. This can include stories featuring zombies and viruses.
Digital distribution will continue to offer opportunities for newcomers to break into the industry despite low production budgets.
Final Thoughts on Horror Movie Statistics
From an average blockbuster to classic horror movies and indie films, the horror genre offers lots of choices to satisfy your thrill-seeking desires and flare for the scare.
Horror films are here to stay, and with theater and digital streaming options in full steam, you can savor the horror with other fans or keep it private from the comforts of your home.
Common Questions About Horror Movie Stats
What is the scariest movie ever statistically?
It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact title that fits all the qualifiers of a scary movie. However, I can narrow it down to three criteria:
Based on Science: Scott Derrickson’s Sinister (2012) comes out as the scariest film based on an independent study. Fifty respondents were fitted with heart monitors as they watched Reddit’s top recommended horror films. Sinister viewers recorded a resting heart rate of 65 BPM (beats per minute), which rose to 86 BPM while watching the film and up to 131 BPM at the major twists in the horror story.
Based on Critics: William Friedkins’ The Exorcist (1973) is Rotten Tomatoes’ scariest film of all time, with an average of 87% audience score from 250,000+ rating.
Based on Blockbuster Earnings: Andy Muschietti’s 2017 film adaptation of Stephen King’s hit novel, It, bags the title for the highest-grossing horror film worldwide, taking home over $700 million.
What percentage of people watch horror movies?
Of the total moviegoers this 2023, horror takes on a 7.56% market share, equivalent to over $48 million tickets sold, with Scream VI as the top-grossing movie. Horror’s highest market share was recorded in 2021 at 12.86% with the release of the globally popular A Quiet Place: Part II.
What percent of movies are horror movies?
Between 1995 and 2023, horror took the 6th spot in total market share at 5.79%, comprised of 807 movies from big studios and indie films and grossing over $14 billion worldwide.
Who is the audience for horror movies?
From millennials who grew up at the height of American horror (the 1980s to early 1990s) to the younger generation fond of video games, horror movies are for people across various age groups. However, if we look at it from a psychological perspective, horror movies are for adrenaline junkies who enjoy recreational fear — die hard fans who are comfortable with gore and dark themes and enjoy classic jump scares.
Why does Gen Z like horror?
I think that for Gen Z, horror movies are more than just scary stories – they enjoy the excitement and the chance to experience and express deep anxieties during uncertain social and political times. They can openly react to the intense scenes, which is something they might not feel free to do in everyday situations.
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