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February 01, 2013

Top 10 zombie movies at the box office: Zombies not a monster draw

Posted in: Movies

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1. "Zombieland," 2009: $24.7 million opening weekend, $75.6 million total. (Columbia Pictures)

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2. "Resident Evil: Afterlife," 2010: $26.6 million opening weekend, $60.1 million total. (Screen Gems)

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3. "Pet Sematary," 1989: $12 million opening weekend, $57.4 million total. (Paramount Pictures)

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3. "Dawn of the Dead," 2004: $26.7 million opening weekend, $59 million total. (Universal Studios)

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6. "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," 2004: $23 million opening weekend, $51.2 million total. (Screen Gems/Rolf Konow)

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7. "Resident Evil: Extinction," 2007: $23.7 million opening weekend, $50.6 million total. (Screen Gems)

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8. "28 Days Later," 2003: $10 million opening weekend, $45 million total. (Peter Mountain/DNA Films Limited/Fox)

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9. "Resident Evil: Retribution," 2012: $21 million opening weekend, $42.3 million total. (Screen Gems)

Despite infecting every aspect of popular culture — television, video games, classic literature, CDC jokes — zombie movies have historically under-performed at the box office compared with the highs reached by other horror or supernatural films, failing to reach the haunted heights of “The Sixth Sense,” the demonic returns of “The Exorcist,” or the J-horror-inspired returns of “The Ring.”

For films featuring the undead, there’s no “Pirates of the Caribbean” to banish memories of “Cutthroat Island’s” poor returns, no “Dark Knight” to chase away memories of “Batman & Robin.”

Out of all of the films featuring zombies as a central element, not a single entry has brought in more than $100 million domestically, unless you’re willing to lump all of the “Resident Evil” films into one unbearable movie. And the latest addition to the genre, the creepy romantic comedy “Warm Bodies,” has its work cut out for it as it goes up against the Super Bowl this weekend.

ZombieLab: Zombies invade London’s Science Museum

The highest-grossing zombie film of all time? 2009’s “Zombieland,” with $75.6 million. The top opening weekend for a zombie film? The 2004 remake of the classic “Dawn of the Dead,” with $26.7 million.  Even the grandfather of the genre, George A. Romero, only managed just over $100,000 with his last film, “Survival of the Dead,” in very limited release in 2010. A pictorial look at the top 10 highest-grossing zombie films is at top.

Those aren’t exactly numbers that would spur deceased execs to rise from the grave and chase after undead-focused scripts.

So although “The Walking Dead” may still draw record-breaking numbers for AMC, the precedent set isn’t particularly promising for  zombie-focused films such as “Warm Bodies” and the upcoming “World War Z.”

– Morgan Little

Twitter: @mlittledc

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