Vampires Suck Us Dry: Why the Sexy Beasts Are Making Billions
By Catherine Donaldson-Evans Posted Aug 28th 2010 02:30PM
They're devouring our blood and our money. And still we crave more vampires. And more ... and more ... and more.
The obsession with the sultry, immortal beasts is currently a deliciously lucrative business, especially when you add up revenues from movies, books, TV shows and merchandising. Citing its own projections, The Hollywood Reporter estimates that vampires are pulling in a staggering $7 billion in total sales.
Is it true? How can it be?
"It doesn't surprise me. That number shouldn't shock us," box office tracker Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com tells PopEater. "There's no question that it's a multibillion-dollar industry. Vampires actually do have power over mortals and are causing people to spend more money."
THR broke it down into segments, calculating that vampire movies are making a lip-smacking $3 billion; TV and DVDs account for $1.2 billion; publishing sales total $1.6 billion; and merchandising plus an "other" category each bring in $600 million.
Stephanie Meyer's 'Twilight' books and the movies based on them are a major piece of the bloody pie -- the three movies alone have made $1.76 billion at the box office -- but so is the smash HBO phenomenon 'True Blood' in all its foxy gore, as well as parodies like 'Vampires Suck' (which grossed $20 million during its recent opening weekend). Not to mention the monstrous influx of clothing, jewelry and other paraphernalia consumers have taken a sizable bite out of.
"Seven billion dollars. That's a lot of blood," Dergarabedian jokes. "I don't want to be in trouble with the vampires, but the vampire mythology is something very romantic, very sexual and very relatable to a lot of people. It's like this forbidden lust."
Of course for mere mortals who believe the fascination has only recently taken flight, a little Vampires 101 might be in order. Dracula flicks have been around since the silent film era (1922's 'Nosferatu'), Syracuse University pop culture expert Bob Thompson reminds us. And there's more.
"Some people think this vampire thing came out of thin air," he tells PopEater. "But when I was a kid, vampires were teaching us how to count on 'Sesame Street,' and we were eating vampire cereal called Count Chocula. It's been a pretty popular culture genre for a long time."
Not to mention legendary novels like Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' (1897) and John Polidori's 'The Vampyre' (1819), which spawned the numerous 'Dracula' films. Anne Rice got into the game with her 'Vampire Chronicle' novels, and TV shows like 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' lured huge audiences. The word "vampire" itself dates back to the 18th century.
But there's no question that their image has changed, which is why we're falling in love with them all over again. Gone are the spooky capes, foreign accents, purplish skin and hideous fangs. Today's incarnations are smoking hot, lusty, devilish, dangerous, armed with supernatural powers, endearing and charmingly tormented. Oh, and did we say smoking hot and lusty? Whether they're virginal like in 'Twilight' or trampy like in "True Blood,' vampires ooze sex. And sex sells.
"It's no coincidence that vampires went from being very grotesque to being very good-looking leading men," says Dergarabedian. "The vampire is a tortured soul who feeds on blood and has a sexual drive. Audiences seem to have an insatiable appetite for them, so to speak."
They've also become much more like us in modern incarnations. And we're bewitched by beings like us.
"We've taken the vampire and totally domesticized it," Thompson says. "You take away the thick Middle Eastern accents, the black capes, and you turn it into the vampire next door: Someone you could fall in love with, pine over."
Yet vampires still represent "the other," a universally enticing and timeless theme. "The idea that these things are outsiders is very appealing. We've all felt like outsiders," says Thompson.
Is there any hope for the vampire loathers out there, the ones who are so tired of them that they fantasize about vampire genocide? Is there an end in sight?
"The vampire haters have a huge uphill battle because history is on the side of the vampires," Dergarabedian says ominously. "It may change, but I don't see that happening any time soon ... Part of me thinks there may be something more metaphysical at work."
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