Approaching The End: 10 Highest-Grossing Zombie-Apocalypse Movies, Ranked

The idea of the dead resurrecting to terrorize the ‘living’ inhabitants of the world, or some mutating virus infecting the world’s populations and turning them into soulless, flesh-eating cadavers. This fascination can be seen throughout entertainment history, both in the film and music industry, from movies like Zombie (1979) and Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982). Even movies like I Am Legend, starring Will Smith and Alice Braga, introduce a far more sophisticated possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Here’s a list of 10 of the highest-earning zombie apocalypse movies, ranked by box office earnings.

10 Resident Evil Franchise

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Coming in at number one with a total of six movie franchises starting in 2002, Resident Evil is one of the most graphic, gruesome, and captivating action horror film series in modern movie history. The film also brought a great deal of sex appeal to an otherwise terrifying genre with the presence of Milla Jovovich as the lead character, Alice. Other lead actors also include Michelle Rodriguez (Rain Ocampo), Eric Mabius (Matt Addison), Wentworth Miller (Chris Redfield), Iain Glen (Dr. Isaacs), Boris Kodjoe (Luther West), and Mike Epps (L.J), among many others. The total box office earnings for all six movie installments came to an awesome $1.2 billion, with the last installment in 2016, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, grossing $312 million.

9 World War Z

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Although World War Z is a horror-action film that some people enjoy being petrified by every once in a while, the iconic actor who played Achilles in Troy (2004), Brad Pitt, also starred in the film along with Mireille Enos (Karin Lane) and Daniella Kertesz (Segen). The backstory of the movie is similar in description to that of most other zombie films – a lethal virus spreads like wildfire throughout the nation through a single bite, transforming ordinary humans into beastly, ferocious creatures. Pitt’s character, a former U.N. investigator, named Gerry Lane, adapts to protect his family while searching across the globe to find the source of the infection and, with that, a possible cure. The film grossed $540.5 million at the box office, while rumors of a sequel are still in the works.

8 Zombieland: Double Tap

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Traditional horror movies emphasize the blood and gore of cannibalistic feasting between zombies and humans, which is something horror movie lovers look forward to. But when you add in the element of comedy to an otherwise intense, high-adrenaline film, it causes a strangely satisfying effect. Throw in a few epic celebrities, like Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin, and you have Zombieland: DoubleTap. This movie is the sequel to the first Zombieland, which was released in 2009. The movie is centered around zombie slayers Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita, Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who team up to find off zombies with supernatural strength, using only with wit and limited weapons. Zombieland: Double Tap grossed $122.8 million at the box office in 2019.

7 Warm Bodies

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Warm Bodies is a bit different from other classifications of zombie movies in that it manages to add in the element of romance, making the film a romance/horror. While following much of the same guidelines in terms of the plot as other zombie horror films, the world’s population is plunged into darkness and division as a plague separates humans from zombies. Jack the Giant Slayer star, Nicholas Hoult, plays the role of R, a zombie with a more empathetic side who rescues an actual living human named Julie (Teresa Palmer) from being devoured by his more bloodthirsty counterparts. The two grow closer and form a deeper connection, causing R to become more and more human. It sounds like a zombified twist to Beauty and The Beast. Nevertheless, the film grossed $117 million at the box office on a $35 million budget.

6 Zombieland

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The first version of Zombieland isn’t much different from the sequel. The same cast of characters is present, except since it’s the first installment of the movie, they’re being introduced. The first movie explains the state of the zombie-infested world as being the cause of a virus that morphs fine citizens into body-snatching demons. The 2009 zombie comedy was directed by Ruben Fleischer and was written by Paul Wernick. Apart from having veteran actors in the movie, like Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone, the movie was a huge success that paved the way for the sequel. Zombieland grossed $102 million, which is exceptional for its first installment.

5 Dawn Of The Dead

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The world of zombies and horror films witnessed a new and welcomed addition to their list with the 2004 release of Dawn of The Dead. Although this movie didn’t follow the usual explanation of a virulent virus outbreak leading billions of humans to morph into mindless carnivores, the action and edge-of-your-seat suspense kept the viewers satisfied. The was also a fresh and surprising cast of characters in the movie. Directed by Zack Snyder, it also included Sarah Polley, Ty Burrell, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, and Ken Foree. The film also made bank with an estimated $102.3 million at the box office with only a $26 million budget.

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4 Train To Busan

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Although Train To Busan doesn’t include a single American actor or actress, the 2016 South Korean action/horror film is given credit for the killing it made at the box office, considering the amount of money that was spent on the budget, being $8.5 million. Ultimately, the movie grossed $98.5 million at the worldwide box office, with the majority of those earnings being in South Korea and other territories, while only $2.2 million was from the United States and Canada. The main setting for the film was also different as it took place mostly on a train. Nevertheless, it makes the list of one of the most successful Asian horror films to date.

3 28 Days Later

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With the frequent connection between “deadly virus outbreaks” and “zombie apocalypse” seems to be the theme for most of these zombie horror/action films, it lends to the seemingly irrational thought that the same thing may be experienced with our own real-life pandemic in 2021 and onward. At least if it were to happen, there would be enough Hollywood propaganda to prepare us for it. 28 Days Later is a science-fiction/horror film based out of the United Kingdom and was released in 2002. As if scripted, the film centers around the “Rage” virus that quickly spreads after an infected chimpanzee is released by animal rights activists. A small team of survivors then band together to find safety. The cast of actors includes Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, and Megan Burns. On a US $8 million budget, the movie grossed $82.7 million at the box office.

2 28 Weeks Later

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After receiving considerable success with the first film, 28 Days Later, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo decided to give it another shot in 2007 by releasing 28 Weeks Later. The time frame for this film segment is set at 6 months after the Rage virus has devastated the British population, and now the U.S. Army is stepping back in to restore order and rebuild. Accompanying the army on the return back home are British refugees who fled for their safety. However, one of the returning refugees is still carrying the virus. And this time, it’s worse than ever before. On a $15 million budget, this film did not do as well as the original but made a profit nonetheless with a box office earning of $64.2 million.

1 Land Of The Dead

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Released in 2005, Land Of The Dead focuses less on the cause of the zombie apocalypse and more on the post-apocalyptic setting that came about as a result of societal instability. The film depicts a world overrun by zombies. And the survivors have sought to preserve themselves by building a segregated society away from the walking dead. Dennis Hopper plays ruthless dictator Paul Kaufman, who rules the faction with harsh class distinctions. But Cholo DeMora, played by John Leguizamo, leads a secret rebellion against the dictator while simultaneously fighting against an adapting and evolving zombie species. Other actors include Asia Argentina and Simon Baker. The film grossed $46.8 million at the box office on a $15 million budget.

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Sources: Living Dead, Variety, CNN, Movie Web, Deadline

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