By Haddon Libby

When thinking of Halloween movies, first thoughts often go toward some of the scarier films like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Chuckie and Freddie.  When it comes to success at the box office, a lighter, more family friendly film is more successful.  If that film includes Tim Burton or Danny Elfman, all the better.

You may find it hard to believe but the 1995 film Casper is the highest grossing Halloween film of all time having generated $298 million at the box office.  At a cost of $55 million, Casper was the first film to use a computer-generated (CG) lead character in a feature length film.  It took two years to complete the digital characters in the film.  One two-minute scene took eight months to complete.  As a number of cheaply made, direct to video Casper movies followed the blockbuster, a big-budgeted CG film was not in the cards.

If you consider 2000’s Scary Movie as a Halloween film, it is the second highest grossing Halloween film with $278 million at the box office.  The film includes Jamie Lee Curtis in a parody of her Halloween role.  This Wayans brothers film cost only $19 million to make and led to four Scary sequels.


Mike Myers and the Halloween franchise have twelve films made in over nearly forty-five years.  The 2018 reboot, Halloween, was made on a modest budget of $10 million and became the most financially successful film in the series with ticket sales of $255 million.  By erasing anything that happened in all prior sequels, this reboot captured the terror that Mike Myers originally represented and brought Mike Myers to a new generation of horror movie fans.

Sleepy Hollow was released in 1999 and grossed $206 million at the box office.  Produced by Scott Rudin, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, this $70 million film won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and was nominated for Cinematography and Costume Design. The film won two awards from the British Academy for Production Design and Costume Design while being nominated for Visual Effect.  The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films found this to be one of its most nominated films with Danny Elfman winning for Music Score and receiving a total of twelve nominations.

The ultimate Halloween family has to be The Addams Family.  Currently preparing for a reboot on Netflix next month, the 1991 film grossed $191 million.  Producer Scott Rudin originally wanted Tim Burton to make this movie but Burton was too busy making Batman Returns.  Barry Sonnenfield took over the $30 million project while Marc Shaiman produced the film’s score and soundtrack.

Do you remember the Goosebumps book series of the 1990s?  This children’s horror book written by R.L. Stine was turned into a movie in 2015.  Tim Burton was originally going to direct this film.  Rob Letterman ended up in the director’s chair and used Burton favorite, Danny Elfman, to score the film.  At a cost of $84 million, this film earned $160 million at the box office with one sequel was made.

The animated film Monster House grossed $141 million with a cost of $75 million.  Produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, the film garnered an Academy Award nomination as well as a Gold Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature.  The American Film Institute added this to its Top 10 List of Animated Films.

The Corpse Bride is a stop-motion animated musical that comes in eighth on this list.  This Tim Burton film generated $118 million at the box office at a cost of $40 million. ParaNorman is another stop-motion animated film made at a cost of $60 million while generating $107 million at the box office.

Rounding out this list is the Christmas/Halloween film, The Nightmare Before Christmas.  This 1993 film cost $24 million to make, generated $92 million at the box office and millions more in toys, games and media.

Haddon Libby is the Founder of Winslow Drake Investment Management.  For more information, please visit