Blood Money: Why Vampires Are Worth $10 Billion to Our Economy
Sexy, strong, dangerous and immortal, it seems that vampires have acquired another quality: lucrative. Looking at the various industries that benefit from the genre, 24/7 Wall St. estimates that vampires contributed nearly $10 billion to the economy in modern times.
The allure of the current iteration of vampires in pop culture is easy to explain: The contrast between their unnatural gifts and the moral issues with which they are cursed provides nearly endless story opportunities. Novelist Anne Rice told 24/7 Wall St. via email: "I'm dazzled by the ingenuity of writers offering new vampire novels, and making new television programs and films with vampires. The basic concept is extremely rich, and I shouldn't be surprised to see new talent unpack that concept in so many interesting ways."
The vampire genre has been around for more than a century, which makes estimating a real-world, modern day dollar figure for their economic impact difficult. In addition, many companies and industry insiders don't make their revenue data public. For movies and novels, we focused on the last two decades. For the rest of the fang-related businesses, we focused on the last decade alone. 24/7 Wall St. tried to be extremely conservative with its calculations: Despite this, we estimate that vampires in modern times have been worth a whopping $10 billion.
Gross Vampire Product: $5 billion
Long before the Twilight series, vampire movies have been popular. Various Dracula movies, the Blade series, and the hugely popular 1994's adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview with The Vampire starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, are just a few examples. Those movies, along with the Underworld films, and Van Helsing, had ticket sales totaling in excess of $2.4 billion, according to IMDB data. Add in a few other moderately popular titles such as The Lost Boys, and that figure jumps to nearly $2.6 billion. Add in the $1.8 billion the Twilight franchise had earned as of last week, and round up to factor in the hundreds of less-known vampire movies, and you're looking at around $5 billion.
And that's just so far: The release of the two installments of Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- the first coming Friday, and the second in late 2012 -- will naturally increase that figure even more. Other upcoming movies include Dark Shadows, Underworld Awakening, and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.
2. Video Games & Games
Gross Vampire Product: $1 billion
Konami's mega-series Castlevania, which dates back to the 1980s, dominates the video game vampire segment. Across multiple platforms, it sold some 20 million games. At a conservative average of $30 per game, this amounts to roughly $600 million. Others include Blood Rayne, Vampire: The Masquerade, and various Buffy the Vampire Slayer titles. Online games and MMORPG titles include Reign of Blood, Bloodmoon and Immortal Night. Games of the non-electronic variety include the Ravenloft series for Dungeons & Dragons, as well as Ravenloft and Buffy-related board games.
3. TV, Comic Books, Magazines
Gross Vampire Product: $150 million
Television execs embraced the vampire genre, bringing fans many shows over the years -- and for good reason. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel had large followings. The Vampire Diaries continues to be popular, and HBO's smash hit True Blood, which is now in its fourth season, routinely has 5 million or more viewers per episode. And there is also a whole host of made-for-cable vamp flicks, cartoons and anime productions, not to mention series like Blade: The Series, which didn't quite gain the traction of their more successful genre-mates.
In the world of comics and magazines, American Vampire from DC Comics is the most popular today, selling well at $2.99 per edition. In 2010, author Stephen King contributed to the series, giving it a huge boost. Other popular series: DC's I Vampire, Marvel's Blade and the various Buffy books from Dark Horse. Magazines such as Rue Morgue and Fangoria also feature vampires on a regular basis.
4. Halloween Costumes
Gross Vampire Product: $1.2 billion
The National Retail Federation has projected that in 2011, Americans spent around $1.2 billion on Halloween costumes for adults, and about another $1 billion on costumes for children. According to CostumeHub.com and other sources, vampires are among the top 10 costume categories. Further, the amount spent on a vampire costume is often double (or more) what other costumes cost. 24/7 Wall St. spoke with Spirit Halloween, the largest seasonal U.S. Halloween retailer with nearly 1,000 locations, as well as local costume shops that operate year-round, to make better-educated estimates. It appears that about 20% of adult sales at costume shops are vampire related, and 10% of children's sales. That implies $240 million for adults and $100 million for kids. For a four-year period, the tally would be $1.36 billion. To be conservative, we deducted 10% for a total of around $1.2 billion. Still, that's a lot of fangs and capes.
Gross Vampire Product: $2.2 billion
Vampire stories have been around for centuries, but we looked only at those novels that made it to The New York Times Best Seller list. Anne Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" have sold more than 80 million books. Charlaine Harris and her protagonist, Sookie Stackhouse, have rung up sales of 24 million books in the "Southern Vampire Mysteries" series -- also the basis for HBO's popular True Blood series. And one cannot forget the more than 100 million Twilight books that have flown off the shelves. Many other well known and lesser known authors have delved into the genre, not to mention Bram Stoker's classic Dracula. At a conservative price of $8 per book, we estimate at least $2.2 billion in book sales.
6. Events and Entertainment
Gross Vampire Product: $200 million
Serious vampire tours can be expensive. Some fans travel to Transylvania in Romania to get closer to the lore and to Count Dracula himself. In 2007, Castle Dracula (Castle Bran) in Transylvania was briefly for sale for the low-low price of $100 million. Other vampire tours and events that specifically draw travelers to New Orleans and other places.
While tallying up the economic impact of all these events and tours is nearly impossible because of all the related expenditures, $200 million is a grossly underestimated figure.
Gross Vampire Product: $200 million
From T-shirts and coffee mugs to fake tombstones and bumper stickers, firing range targets to posters, CafePress.com alone has 1,380,000 vampire-design products. Retailer Hot Topic benefited from vampire clothing and Goth-related sales thanks to the Twilight craze. The companies did not provide us with sales figure, but we took an educated guess that Twilight-related sales were close to $100 million, with independent costume jewelry and Goth gear adding another $100 million to vampire merchandise sales.
-- JON C. OGG