Merchandise: Which films are most in the pink for revenue?

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Ryan Gosling, left, and Margot Robbie in a scene from "Barbie."
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Ryan Gosling, left, and Margot Robbie in a scene from "Barbie." Copyright Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures/ 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
By Euronews
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Last year was a big year for the film industry and blockbusters such as Barbie and Oppenheimer. Older movies, too, still gain from the merch craze.

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Barbie and Oppenheimer came out tops in the cinema world in 2023, winning both the approval of the public and Hollywood's most-respected award-giving juries. However, while these films are profiting from their most recent release, older movies are still appealing to the punters.

Costumes, makeup, accessories or even swords and magic wands are all part of classic merchandise fancied by some movies' fans. Whether those items are purchased around the film's release or continue to be years after, many movies make profits away from the actual cinema.   

Here's what the past two months of internet research in the US tell us about the most wanted merchandise. 

The clear winner in the merch category is Barbie, whose 2023 release gave Mattel a refreshed brand image, and stimulated the public's appetite for its products. 

In spite of a struggling toy market, the US brand saw its revenue rise in 2023, boosted by one of the year most talked about cinema release. In last year's fourth quarter, following the Barbie movie coming out on the big screen, Mattel reported a 16% sales increase, a welcome boost compared with the previous year's 3% increase compared with 2021.

Given its different genre and not being attached to a well-known toy brand, Oppenheimer is not-so-surprisingly far behind Barbie. Both films' successes have been relentlessly compared by cinema enthusiasts, in spite of their incomparable nature. But numbers don't lie: Barbie is largely ahead of its rival in the merchandise business, with 1,190% more searches for Mattel-related products than for Oppenheimer merchandise, that still ranks high. 

A number of movies have seen a recent renewed interest in their related products. These include Venom and Deadpool. Both will see a sequel coming out later this year, and are currently being promoted by their respective casts. 

More surprisingly (or perhaps not) merchandising profits are still going strong for films that have long been released and where there are no plans for a new addition to the series. They do, however, enjoy a strong fanbase that has not tired over the years, and that continues to cherish its favourite heroes' universes. 

There is, for instance, the example of the Harry Potter saga which, in spite of not having released a new opus in the past 15 years, still lives on through its numerous fans who are eager to buy games, accessories or costumes.

The same goes for Lord of the Rings, which had its last release in 2003. Going even further back, we see the continuing success of ET, Steven Spielberg's blockbuster which was first released at the cinema in 1982.

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