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The World’s 25 Most Successful Media Franchises, and How They Stay Relevant

 

The World’s 25 Most Successful Media Franchises, and How They Stay Relevant

By , Visual Capitalist

 

The World's 25 Most Successful Media Franchises, and How They Stay Relevant

The World’s 25 Most Successful Media Franchises, and How They Stay Relevant

Great stories come and go, but there are a certain few that can truly stand the test of time.

Tugging on the heartstrings with nostalgic stories can be a powerful tool. Yet, even the most world-renowned storytellers like Disney face pressure to constantly innovate.

Today’s infographic from TitleMax illustrates the highest-grossing media franchises, and dives into how they generate their revenue and adapt to new mediums in changing times.

The Supreme Storytellers

According to the infographic, the majority of franchise revenue comes from merchandising. Video games, comic books, and Japanese manga are also significant drivers of income.

Rank Franchise Year Created Revenue (USD) Main Revenue Source
#1 Pokémon 1996 $92B Merchandise
#2 Hello Kitty 1974 $80B Merchandise
#3 Winnie the Pooh 1924 $75B Merchandise
#4 Mickey Mouse 1928 $70B Merchandise
#5 Star Wars 1977 $66B Merchandise
#6 Anpanman 1973 $60B Merchandise
#7 Disney Princesses 2000 $45B Merchandise
#8 Mario 1981 $36B Video Games
#9 Jump Comics 1968 $34B Comics and Manga
#10 Harry Potter 1997 $31B Box Office
#11 Marvel Cinematic Universe 2008 $29B Box Office
#12 Spiderman 1962 $27B Merchandise
#13 Gudam 1979 $26B Merchandise
#14 Batman 1939 $26B Merchandise
#15 Dragonball 1984 $24B Comic and Manga
#16 Barbie 1959 $24B Merchandise
#17 Fist of The North Star 1983 $22B Video Games
#18 Cars 2006 $22B Merchandise
#19 Toy Story 1995 $20B Merchandise
#20 One Piece 1997 $20B Comics and Manga
#21 Lord of The Rings 1937 $20B Book Sales
#22 James Bond 1953 $20B Box Office
#23 Yu-Gi-Oh 1996 $20B Trading Cards
#24 Peanuts 1950 $17B Merchandise
#25 Transformers 1984 $17B Merchandise

 

Perhaps surprisingly, Marvel is not included in the top 10. Despite nearly $30 billion revenue and a long history rooted in comic books, the entertainment behemoth still has much ground to cover as the newest franchise in the ranking.

Reinventing a Classic

While the list proves that success builds over time, these classics need to constantly reinvent themselves as their audiences become reliant on new technologies and demand more immersive experiences.

Pokémon

As the highest grossing media franchise earning roughly $4 billion a year, Pokémon’s strength lies in it ability to adapt to new technology.

The Japanese phenomenon has continued to reposition itself since it first introduced Pokémon cards in 1996. These days, the franchise is perhaps best known for bringing augmented reality to the masses with Pokémon Go—an app that attracted 50 million users in just 19 days.

Hello Kitty

Yet another Japanese brand tops the list of media franchises. With 50,000 product lines available in over 130 countries and cumulative revenue of $80 billion, Hello Kitty is famous for harnessing the power of cute.

The fictional character has evolved into a globally recognized symbol as a result of big name partnerships and licensing deals with the likes of Puma, Asos and Herschel—and is etched onto almost every type of accessory thinkable.

More recently, the brand announced its foray into video games, and will collaborate with the global esports organization FNATIC on content and merchandise.

Winnie the Pooh

The chronicles of Winnie the Pooh have transcended time by providing a connection to the innate wonder of childhood.

Originally created following World War I, the newest movie rendition “Christopher Robin” became the highest-grossing film in the franchise, grossing $197 million worldwide.

Mickey Mouse

With 97% brand name recognition, Mickey Mouse is officially more recognizable than Santa Claus. Similarly to Winnie the Pooh, Disney introduced Mickey Mouse as a symbol of hope following the World War.

Over 90 years later, global brands such as L’oreal, Beats, Uniqlo and more recently, Gucci are paying homage. In 2019, the luxury fashion brand licensed the Mickey Mouse image for a 3D printed bag worth $4,500, making it even more of a ubiquitous symbol of pop culture.

Star Wars

Another Disney favorite, Star Wars holds the title of most successful movie franchise, with cumulative revenues of $65 billion.

The franchise successfully appeals to a multi-generational audience by mixing old characters with new storylines, such as ‘The Mandalorian’, broadcasting on the new streaming service Disney+—hailed as one of the more exciting moves to come from the saga.

Making Magic

Disney owns three out of the top five highest grossing franchises, so it comes as no surprise that the media conglomerate is investing heavily in digital innovation to provide a more immersive customer experience.

In fact, every franchise in the ranking relies on multiple touchpoints and revenue streams to create a more interactive and emotional experience for their audience.

By harnessing a compelling combination of both imagination and technology, Disney and other top global franchises can continue to lead in the business of making magic.

 


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