In the 21st century, fandom is a powerful thing! It’s what’s caused Hollywood to stop being in the movie business and start being in the franchise business. It’s no longer enough to make a two hour movie; it needs to be accompanied by a range of t-shirts, baseball caps, action figures, posters, novelizations, spin-off comic books and at least on cross-platform video game. And that’s before we get into sequels, prequels and the unnecessary serialization of movies that really work best on their own. Why make a movie when you can make a trilogy? Why make a trilogy when you can split the last installment into two movies?
Through the magic of merchandising Hollywood collectibles fans have more of a chance than ever to take home a little bit of their favorite movies. These are just 5 of Hollywood’s most merchandisable franchises…
Who’d have thought that a cameo by Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury at the start of the first Iron Man movie would snowball into a blockbuster movie franchise that would also become a merchandising juggernaut? The value of the Avengers merch business currently stands at over $150M and would be worth markedly more were it not for an oversight from Hasbro prior to the launch of the first Avengers film in 2012. The toy giant underestimated the interest in the coming movie leading to a massively limited supply that was nowhere near equal to the demand.
Any child of the ‘80s knows that the Transformers franchise has always been, above all else, a toy commercial. While many of us share a fondness for the shape shifting plastic robots, it’s easy to see why Paramount and Dreamworks were more interested in feeding the $3BN merchandising leviathan than making quality movies.
Anyone with a fondness for the dark knight will at least have heard of the Batmania of the 1960s or remember how in 1989 you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting something with the iconic bat-logo on it. Everything from baseball caps to breakfast cereals (the latter tasted awful) was branded with the bat shaped device. 28 years and 8 films in the Bat-merch phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down. Given that the bat-merch biz is currently valued at over a quarter of a billion dollars, it’s no wonder that Warner Bros. are keen to put Batman front-and-center in the upcoming Justice League.
He can do whatever a spider can, and a whole lot of things a spider can’t… Including making huge amounts of money. Mazrvel’s web slinger remains their most merchandisable character. Even the relatively unsuccessful Mark Webb / Andrew Garfield movies managed to make a fortune in merchandising revenue. Now that Spidey has been brought into the fold of the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper, we can expect a whole lot more Spidey merch in the future.
While Jaws may have given birth to the summer blockbuster, Star Wars picked up that baton and ran with it. Star Wars was the first Hollywood blockbuster with the franchise mentality baked into the crust. Famously, the first wave of Star Wars toys released in 1977 sold out with unprecedented speed, to the point where expectant children all over the world unwrapping gift certificates for Star Wars figures for the Christmas of ‘77 while bamboozled manufacturers struggled to churn out enough figures to meet demand. At present the franchise is worth over $12BN with this year’s The Last Jedi sure to push that figure through the ceiling by 2018.