Hollywood and the entertainment industry have always tried to predict or quickly adapt to the latest craze or popular genre, in an attempt to acquire ownership or sustain a large share of the market. Hollywood exploits the latest fad, tailoring it to all possible age groups with merchandising that expands multiple categories, until the latest craze's profits dry up. As this roller coaster of a business model is constantly pursued, the industry always falls back on subject matter from more profitable genres like fiction, while waiting for the next big craze.
In the last twenty-five years, one of the entertainment industries most profitable reserves has been vampires. Since 1989, over eighty-five movies have been released on or referencing this fictional subject, grossing over 7.2 billion dollars in box office revenues, with close to half of that income being acquired in the last six years (The-numbers.com). Vampires are no longer just associated with a single holiday fad; these fictional creatures and their merchandizing extend to film, theater, television, comic books, games, clothing, jewelry, food and literature: both fiction and non-fiction. In essences, vampires have become Hollywood's sustaining cash cow
Vampirism folklore is timeless as it varies and spans across numerous cultures, with precursors dating as far back as the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. However, it is the authors of the 18th and 19th centuries that began to shape the modern day vampire with their poems and stories. In 1748, at a time when vampire superstition was rapidly growing, Heinrich August Ossenfelder wrote the poem Der Vampir, offering erotic connotations that introduces the vampire as a seductive creature for the first time. John William Polidori's 1819 short story The Vampyre, reinforces this trait with Lord Ruthven, a seductive and cunning British nobleman, whose intentions are to prey among the high society of London. As more vampire tales became available, such as Edgar Allan Poe's Morella and Bram Stoker's Dracula, vampires were not just viewed as vicious incubuses of the night who lured women into becoming concubines before they became meals, they were also perceived as cunning, charismatic and seductive immortals that intermingle well with the living.
Literature entertained and informed society of these sentient beings who survive by feeding off the living, but with the introduction of film with sound in the 20th century, combined with the 18th and 19th century folklores and literatures, Hollywood made the vampire come to life. Within the first forty-eight hours of Universal's release of Dracula in February of 1931, New York's Roxy Theater sold 50,000 tickets (Vieira 42). As society accepted Hollywood's new supernatural chillers, the vampire soared as the prevailing figure in the horror genre.
As Halloween transitioned in America from an adult stay at home social party to an outdoor holiday event for children (The Haunted History of Halloween), Hollywood and corporate America soon discovered a new market for the vampire and horror genre, and tailored it to children in the form of merchandising and Halloween TV specials. Children were now given more opportunity to dress up and pretend to be vampires. However the past Thirty years has seen an explosion of movies, television shows, books and merchandise all encompassed around vampires. Over eighteen television shows have been released since 1990; a dozen of them since the last decade. Recent shows include Cole Haddon's Dracula, Guillermo del Toro's The Strain and HBO's Emmy winning series True Blood, a story about the coexistence of humans and vampires, along with other mythological creatures in a small town in Louisiana. During its premiere in 2008, True Blood drew in 1.44 million viewers (Frankel) and achieved an all-time high of 5.38 million viewers before the series concluded in last August of this year. Another vampire television show that also found their origin from recent literature is L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries, another drama series that is about the coexistence of humans, vampires, and other mythological creatures. Over 4.9 million viewers tuned in during its premiere on the CW network in September of 2009 (Ausiello), just 400,000 shy of Cole Haddon's Dracula with 5.3 million viewers in October of 2013 (TVbythenumbers). Each of the shows have spawned off their own cult followings and merchandising markets.
Thousands of books have been written and published in the last two decades on vampires and their occult characteristics, feeding Hollywood with new material to utilize and endeavor on with their cash cow. A recent online database search referencing vampires under the literature and fiction genre returned over 6,700 records of books published since 1990 (Amazon.com). You would be pressed not to find a book referencing the subject or utilizing vampires within the top 100 picks of the science fiction genre. In April of 2010, an aggregator website for Australian news published the story "Vampire stories beat Bible in book sales in Australia", in subject to the Bible's drop in ranking from 23rd place to 53rd , while four books referencing vampires placed in the top ten. The Chief executive of Dymocks.com.au, Don Grover , was quoted as stating "The current trend we're seeing from the inaugural survey is a shift from classic novel to fantasy fiction...". With the latest release of Dracula: The untold story and Universal Studios acquiring the rights to Anne Rice's 13-book series Vampire Chronicles, it is apparent that Hollywood is not letting up on the vampire money train. Vampires have never been more popular than they are now, and thanks to the film, TV, DVD, publishing and merchandising sales markets, vampires have brought in over $7 billion dollars to Hollywood, an amount that resembles the yearly Gross Domestic Product income of small nations like Mongolia and Haiti (WorldBank). The only thing more ravenous than the current vampire craze is Hollywood's appetite to profit from it.
Ausiello, Michael. "'Vampire Diaries' Ratings: They Don't Suck!" Entertainment Weekly.com. N.p., 11
Sep. 2009. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. http://insidetv.ew.com/2009/09/11/vampire-diaries-ratings-they-dont-suck.
"Books > Literature and Fiction > Vampires". Amazon.com. Amazon.com Inc, 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 3
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"Dracula". TvbyTheNumbers.Zap2It. Tribune Digital Ventures 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2013/10/26/nbc-wins-friday-in-18-49-with-dracula-and-grimm-tying-as-the-nights-1-scripted-program/211506/
Poe, Edgar Allan. Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Doubleday, 1984. Print.
Frankel, Daniel. "1.4 million Tune into True Blood." Variety.com. Reed Elsevier, 9 Sep. 2008 Web. 3 Oct. 2014.
"Gross Domestic Product (2009)". The World Bank: World Development Indicators database. World Bank. 27 Sep. 2010. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources.GDP.pdf.
Polidori, John. W., and George G.B. Byron, and John Mitford, The Vampyre. Cirencester, England: Nabu Press, 2010. Print.
"Vampires". The-Numbers.com. Nash Information Services, 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. http://www.the-numbers.com/keyword/Vampire
Vieira, Mark A. (1999). Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 42.
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