Top 10 Movies That Made a Fortune on Merchandise

Script Written by Nick Spake. Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Movies that Make a Fortune on Merchandise. For this list, we’re taking a look at movies and movie franchises that weren’t just big hits at the box office, but also went on to produce profitable toys, clothing, and other goods. Special thanks to our user NickSpake1 for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script Written by Nick Spake.

Top 10 Movies That Made a Fortune on Merchandise


Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Movies that Make a Fortune on Merchandise.

For this list, we’re taking a look at movies and movie franchises that weren’t just big hits at the box office, but also went on to produce profitable toys, clothing, and other goods.

#10: “Cars” franchise (2006-)

“Cars” isn’t anyone’s favorite Pixar movie and “Cars 2” really isn’t anyone’s favorite Pixar movie. Nevertheless, “Cars” is still among Pixar’s most marketable franchises and that isn’t too surprising given the marketing possibilities. Kids have adored toy cars dating all the way back to Hot Wheels. Thus, turning automobiles into sentient beings with likable appearances made for a winning toy line. As if collecting every toy car wasn’t enough, Disney’s profits soared even higher when “Planes” came in for a landing. With the opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, this billion-dollar franchise isn’t slowing down any time soon.

#9: “Despicable Me” franchise (2010-)

While Gru and his adoptive daughters are certainly marketable characters, it’s those adorable, yellow minions that really made this franchise a breakout success. Just look at these little guys. You just want to give them a big, fat hug as if they were plush dolls. Thus, it only makes sense that they would spawn countless toys, not to mention a ride at Universal Studios and their own spinoff movie. Just one Minion doll isn’t going to cut it, though. You’re going to have to buy your five-year-old a whole army of Minions until they’re satisfied.

#8: “Transformers” franchise (2007-)

“Transformers” has always largely been about selling toys. Heck, the franchise started as a Hasbro toy line in the ‘80s. The action figures went on to inspire an animated series, which would ironically inspire more action figures. Then when the live-action film franchise hit the scene in the early 21st century, even more toys hit the shelves. Michael Bay’s an expert when it comes to working commercials into his movies. So he was the perfect man to bring the Autobots to the big screen…from a marketing standpoint at least. Say what you will about the movies, but “Transformers” merchandise remains awesome and will forever keep consumers coming back.

#7: “Toy Story” franchise (1995-)

“Toy Story” must be every ad executive’s dream come true. The main characters are already playthings. They practically sell themselves. Of course, “Toy Story” didn’t become one of Disney’s most profitable franchises based on its marketable premise alone. The filmmakers took these simple pieces of plastic and molded them into wonderful, timeless, and original characters we truly care about. That’s the reason people keep coming back to “Toy Story” and why every generation of children desires a Woody and Buzz Lightyear of its own. Plus, the series elevated Mr. Potato Head to another level of fame.

#6: “Harry Potter” franchise (2001-11)

Through the “Harry Potter” books, J.K. Rowling created one of the greatest fictional worlds in all of literature. The feature film adaptations made Rowling’s world come to life, as did the merchandise. If you’re a true “Harry Potter” fan, then you’ve undoubtedly purchased a few wands and robes, and maybe even some Quidditch gear. Then if you’re a really hard-core fan, you likely blew your life savings on expensive prop replicas and collectibles. To get the full Hogwarts experience, though, you’ll have to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The trip is worth every Galleons, Sickle, and Knut.

#5: “Batman” franchise (1989-)

Every little boy has dreamed of being Batman. Thus, all those Batman toys and accessories have made the folks at Warner Bros. richer than Bruce Wayne. Granted, Batman hasn’t always been easy to market to young kids. “Batman Returns” was so dark that McDonald’s pulled out of their Happy Meal promotion. As a result, the studio wanted “Batman and Robin” to be more “Toyetic.” Maybe that’s why Mr. Freeze looked and talked like an action figure. There are so many memorable incarnations of the Dark Knight, though, that the bat signal continues to lure us to his products.

#4: “Jurassic Park” franchise (1993-)

After Steven Spielberg cooked up the most realistic dinosaurs audiences had ever seen in “Jurassic Park,” no child’s toy chest was complete without a Velociraptor. Even if some of the sequels weren’t so hot, kids still ordered their parents to buy the merchandise. Why? Because the dinosaurs might have gone extinct, but their appeal never will. Even decades after the initial blockbuster, “Jurassic World” had us lining up at the box office and the toy stores. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go make our T-Rex and Indominus rex action figures fight each other.

#3: “Frozen” franchise (2013-)

For years, it seemed like the traditional Disney fairytale was dead. “Frozen” proved, however, that Disney’s signature magic is alive and well in the hearts of children. Aside from becoming the highest-grossing animated film of all time, “Frozen” just keeps raking in the big bucks with Olaf dolls, Elsa and Anna dresses, and of course that infectious soundtrack. Some parents may now be sick of “Frozen” fever bleeding their wallets dry. Since your parents bought you all that “Little Mermaid” and “Lion King” merchandise when you were young, though, chances are you’ll have a hard time telling your child, “no.” Especially since a “Frozen” sequel was announced in March 2015.

#2: Marvel Cinematic Universe (2008-)

Marvel has been part of our popular culture for years, inspiring plenty of merchandise. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe launching these superheroes into another league of popularity, though, we’ve gotten several waves of new action figures courtesy of Hasbro and designer Dave Vonner. Besides giving us detailed action figures and bobble-heads, Marvel merchandise has exploded in recent years with t-shirts, backpacks, and of course costumes. The universe offers a wide variety of characters, making the marketing possibilities endless. You’re never too old to collect every piece of Marvel memorabilia, although you may not be rich enough.

- Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “The Lord of the Rings” franchise (2001-03)
- “The Mighty Ducks” franchise (1992-96)
- “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise (1990-)
- “Space Jam” (1996)
- “Spider-Man” franchise (2002-)

#1: “Star Wars” franchise (1977-)

Since studios didn’t have the best grasp on creative movie marketing in 1977, 20th Century Fox actually sold the merchandise rights for “Star Wars” to George Lucas. Big mistake on their behalf since “Star Wars” now holds the Guinness World Record for most successful film merchandising franchise. “Star Wars” just keeps enduring with action figures and plastic light sabers remaining hot ticket items. Before “The Phantom Menace” even came out in 1999, it already made a killing in early toy sales. Oh, and you’d better believe we all added an BB-8 Droid to our Christmas list in anticipation for “The Force Awakens.”

Do you agree with our list? What movie made you spend a fortune in merchandise? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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