One of the most prolific authors in the world, Stephen King has been churning our horror and thriller novels and short stories since the early 70s. Almost all of his works have been adapted into films or TV series. Here are the 12 highest grossing Stephen King movies, adjusted for inflation…
12) Doctor Sleep
When King announced that he was writing a sequel to the horror classic The Shining, there was a lot of anxiety around whether or not it would live up to the original, or spoil it altogether. Fortunately, both the novel and the movie turned out to be excellent.
Doctor Sleep focuses on a group of vampiric characters called the True Knot who travel around in RV’s, torturing and killing children with The Shining, so that they can breathe in the ‘steam’ given off; enabling them to stay young for centuries. An adult Dan Torrance has to step in when a young girl he’s befriended – who is easily the most powerful Shiner alive today – falls onto the radar of the True Knot.
Worldwide box office in 2019: $71,856,230
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $73,924,025.07
King’s first novel, Carrie, was first adapted into a movie in 1976. It starred Sissy Spacek and John Travolta, and took the world by storm. But it’s actually the 2013 remake that finds its way into 7th place of this list. The film focuses on Carrie White; a girl with telekinetic powers, and an obsessively strict and religious mother, who fools foul of a prom night plan, and decides to make the world pay.
Worldwide box office in 2013: $82,409,520
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $93,042,310
The idea for Dreamcatcher came to Stephen King after an accident in 1999, in which he was run over by a minivan. Whilst recovering in bed, he would dream about four friends who go on a hunting trip in the woods. They get a visit from an unwell man, who staggers in, saying he’s feeling sick, and he brings a ‘hitchhiker’ with him. Both the novel and the 2003 film focus on the four friends as they come up against a parasitic alien invasion.
Worldwide box office in 2003: $75,685,268
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $108,186,331
9) Pet Sematary
King and his family used to live beside a busy road. They’d take roadkill from the road outside the front of their house and would bury it in a special area in the garden. One day, King’s child had a close encounter with a car on the road, and it inspired King to write Pet Sematary.
It’s the 2019 adaptation of the book that makes it into our list. After Dr Louis Creed’s cat dies, an elderly neighbour shows him an ancient burial ground behind the local Pet’s Sematary where, if you bury the dead, it returns to life. Only, the cat comes back aggressive and violent. Shortly later, Creed’s daughter Ellie is hit by a car and killed. Will he have learnt his lesson after the cat? Or will he bring her back to life?
Worldwide box office in 2019: $111,809,732
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $115,027,262
8) The Dark Tower
Stephen King’s epic series The Dark Tower has amassed an enormous global fandom. A fandom that was mostly let down by the 2017 movie adaptation, which starred Edris Elba as the gunslinger Roland, who is searching for the dark tower – a powerful magical structure that holds the universe together – and Matthew McConaughey as his arch nemesis, The Man in Black, who is seeking to destroy the tower.
Worldwide box office in 2017: $113,461,527
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $121,744,329.56
Hitting the big screen in 1990, Misery landed Kathy Bates with an Oscar for Best Actress. Novelist Paul Sheldon has finished writing his latest novel, and is driving home with the manuscript when he gets caught in a snow storm in Colorado and crashes his car.
He wakes up, extremely battered, in the home of Annie Wilkes; a woman who claims to be his number one fan. Repeatedly telling him the phone lines are down and the roads are closed, he remains there, bedridden, whilst he waits for his body to heal. When Annie reads his latest book, in which he kills off her favourite character, she forces him to write her back to life, and grows increasingly obsessive and violent.
Worldwide box office in 1990: $61,165,603
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $123,086,533
6) Stand by Me
Adapted from Stephen King’s novella, ‘The Body,’ which was inspired by a true event from King’s childhood, Stand By Me came out in 1986. Hoping to claim the reward, four young friends decide to follow the rail track out of Castle Rock in search of the body of a missing local boy, which they’d overheard some older boys saying they’d spotted laying by the train track.
Worldwide box office in 1986: $52,287,76
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $125,478,219
5) Secret Window
Johnny Depp stars in this 2004 adaptation of King’s novella Secret Window, Secret Garden, which you can read in Four Past Midnight. Depp plays Mort Rainey; a writer who is going through a divorce when a mysterious stranger named Shooter turns up one day, and claims Rainey stole one of his stories. Things quickly escalate, and it becomes apparent how dangerous Shooter is. Can Rainey bring the situation to a close before people start dying?
Worldwide box office in 2004: $92,110,539
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $128,249,662
4) The Shining
Stephen King wrote The Shining after spending a night in the Stanley Hotel, which was empty of guests because it was about to close down for the winter season. Whilst King walked around the hotel’s empty corridors at night, the idea for the book formed in his mind.
Stanley Kubrick’s visually stunning adaptation of the novel hit cinemas in 1980. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance – a recovering alcoholic who takes a job as caretaker at the Overlook hotel during the winter season, when it’s closed to the public. His young son, Danny, has a psychic gift, and soon discovers that the hotel is filled with sinister supernatural dangers.
Worldwide box office in 1980: $45,604,250
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $145,565,002
3) The Green Mile
Based on death row in the 1930s, The Green Mile follows Paul Edgecombe; the block supervisor, as he receives a large and child-minded inmate named John Coffey, who is accused of raping and murdering two small girls. It soon becomes clear that Coffey is no ordinary inmate, and has powerful supernatural healing abilities. When a woman with a brain tumor nears death, Paul and the guards hatch a plan.
Worldwide box office in 1999: $290,701,374
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $458,934,760
2) It: Chapter Two
Number two in our list of the highest grossing Stephen King movies is the second part to the recent It adaptation. It’s been 27 years since he last tormented Derry, and Bill Skarsgard is back as Pennywise to wreak havoc once again. The Loser’s Club – now grown up (and looking suspiciously like Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader, among others) – must reassemble to take on the clown once again.
Worldwide box office: $469,566,806
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $483,079,453
27 years after Tim Curry nailed the part of Pennywise in the TV movie IT, it’s Hollywood’s turn to adapt Stephen King’s beefy novel! Bill Skarsgard dons the clown costume in this terrifying new version, which is impressively the highest grossing horror movie of all time at the worldwide box office. A small group of misfit children, who call themselves The Loser’s Club, face off against a dangerous ancient threat, which surfaces every 27 years, and takes the form of our worst fears.
Worldwide box office: $701,720,047
Adjusted for inflation for 2021: $752,946,297.49
There you have it – the 12 highest grossing Stephen King movies!
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