Freddy vs. Jason vs. Michael: Who’s The Real Box Office Killer?
For a long stretch between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre setting the modern standard for slasher films and Scream reviving it with a dose of cool irony, three names ruled the genre: Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. Including reboots and one mash-up, the three franchises have combined for 30 films and a nearly $1.3 billion in global box office (extra impressive when you consider how much of that gross came from ’80s ticket prices).
John Carpenter kicked off the slasher craze that dominated the horror genre throughout the ’80s with Halloween in 1978. Produced for only $350,000, the movie that introduced Michael Myers eventually grossed $70 million worldwide. Two years later, Friday the 13th cashed in on its success; made for $550,00, it brought in nearly $60 million globally. A Nightmare on Elm Street joined the fun in 1984. While it cost much more ($1.8 million) and made much less ($25 million) than the other two, it was more than enough to anchor a franchise.
Fans can argue over which films are better, and which character is the most iconic, but at Decider we had a different question: Who made the biggest killing where it really counted, at the box office? The numbers were frighteningly close.
1. Friday the 13th
Number of films: 12
Worldwide Box Office: $465,000,000
Domestic Box Office: $383,000,000
The box office crown sits atop Jason’s hockey mask. He also has the advantage of spawning the most films (especially when you consider that the fourth installment was titled The Final Chapter). Even the ninth installment in 1993, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday couldn’t keep him dead. Jason X (a.k.a Jason Goes to Space in the Future) was released in 2002 to the tepid response it deserved, but the following year’s Freddy vs. Jason was a major hit. After the success of that and several newer Halloween films, a reboot in 2009 grossed respectable box office but is yet to see a sequel.
Highest Grossing Chapter: The original, by a landslide. Adjusted for inflation, it earned $120,000,000 domestically.
Lowest Grossing Chapter: Jason X. Space was unkind to the serial killer. Even adjusted for inflation, the 2002 dud barely reached $18 million and remains a total head-scratcher.
(Freddy vs. Jason is included in the film count and box office total for both franchises, but excluded from individual chapter comparisons.)
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Number of films: 9
Worldwide Box Office: $448,000,000
Domestic Box Office: $362,000,000
Despite having three fewer films and getting off to a slower start, Freddy wakes up right after Jason. His average take per film is the best of the three by a healthy amount. The third and fourth films in 1987 and 1988 far outperformed the first two, though the fifth installment the following year completely cratered. The series bottomed out in 1994 before Freddy vs. Jason was a hit in 2003. As with Friday the 13th, that led to a single reboot in 2010, which performed respectably.
Highest Grossing Chapter: 1988’s part four, The Dream Master, with an adjusted domestic take of over $97 million. Part three, Dream Warriors, was right behind with $93 million adjusted, but none of the other stand-alone films in the series came close to these two.
Lowest Grossing Chapter: In 1994, Wes Craven returned to the Freddy character for the first time since directing the original film. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare broke from the series continuity and took a meta approach, featuring Freddy as a horror movie character haunting the cast and crew of the movies he appeared in, not in dreams but in the real world. Despite generally good reviews, it performed the worst by far, earning only $35 million domestically, adjusted. (Though good news followed for Wes Craven and horror fans, as two years later he returned with Scream, which shared some ideas.)
Number of films: 10
Worldwide Box Office: $363,000,000
Domestic Box Office: $308,000,000
The oldest of the three franchises, Halloween has also been the most active recently, with five films since 1995, including three in the 2000s. The series continuity has taken a winding path. 1998’s 20th anniversary film Halloween: H20 brought back Jamie Lee Curtis and was a direct sequel to the first two chapters, completely ignoring the four films in between. The result was one of the series’ biggest hits, bringing in $95 million domestically, adjusted. Halloween: Resurrection built on H20‘s events in 2002, before Rob Zombie rebooted the franchise with two films in 2007 and 2009.
Highest Grossing Chapter: The original Halloween was the highest-grossing film of all three franchises by far, earning $163,000,000 domestically, adjusted for inflation.
Lowest Grossing Chapter: 1989’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers grossed only $24 million domestic, adjusted. It had company at the bottom, though; 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers did only $28 million, adjusted, before H20 got the franchise back on track three years later.
Courtesy of http://decider.com