The World’s 25 Most Successful Media Franchises
This article is published in collaboration with Visual Capitalist
by Katie Jones
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.
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.
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.
Yet another Japanese brand tops the list of media franchises. With 50,000 product lines available in over 130 countries and a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.