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.
|Rank||Franchise||Year Created||Revenue (USD)||Main Revenue Source|
|#3||Winnie the Pooh||1924||$75B||Merchandise|
|#9||Jump Comics||1968||$34B||Comics and Manga|
|#10||Harry Potter||1997||$31B||Box Office|
|#11||Marvel Cinematic Universe||2008||$29B||Box Office|
|#15||Dragonball||1984||$24B||Comic and Manga|
|#17||Fist of The North Star||1983||$22B||Video Games|
|#20||One Piece||1997||$20B||Comics and Manga|
|#21||Lord of The Rings||1937||$20B||Book Sales|
|#22||James Bond||1953||$20B||Box Office|
Perhaps surprisingly, Marvel is not included in the top 10. Despite nearly $30 billion revenue and a long history rooted in comic books, the entertainment behemoth still has much ground to cover as the newest franchise in the ranking.
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 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.
Winnie the Pooh
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 $65 billion.
The franchise successfully appeals to a multi-generational audience by mixing old characters with new storylines, such as ‘The Mandalorian’, broadcasting on the new streaming service Disney+—hailed as one of the more exciting moves to come from the saga.
Disney owns three out of the top five highest grossing franchises, so it comes as no surprise that the media conglomerate is investing heavily in digital innovation to provide a more immersive customer experience.
In fact, every franchise in the ranking relies on multiple touchpoints and revenue streams to create a more interactive and emotional experience for their audience.
By harnessing a compelling combination of both imagination and technology, Disney and other top global franchises can continue to lead in the business of making magic.
Charting Grand Theft Auto: GTA’s Budget and Revenues
Dive into the GTA budget through the years, with GTA VI set to be the most expensive video game of all time.
Charting Grand Theft Auto: GTA’s Budget and Revenues
Over 10 years since the launch of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V), the second most-sold video game in history, Rockstar Games has announced its sequel GTA VI will be “coming 2025.”
As the anticipation only grows for this next big entry in the franchise, we take a look at the GTA budget through the years. How much have the last two games cost to make, how much have they earned, and how do they compare with the latest entry?
How Much Has GTA VI Cost to Make?
The GTA franchise has grown enormously in scale from humble beginnings as a top-down, 2D video game in 1997. Fifteen installments later, the upcoming release, GTA VI, is estimated to be the most expensive video game to be made yet.
Here’s a look at how much GTA VI and the last two major releases cost, and how much revenue they’ve earned as of August 2023.
|Year||Title||Production Costs ($)||Revenue ($)||Copies Sold|
|2025 (est.)||GTA VI||$2B (rumored)||N/A||N/A|
In 2008, GTA IV cost around $100 million—already a budget that rivalled big Hollywood releases. However with 25 million copies sold, the game earned nearly $2 billion—a five-fold return on its production cost.
Five years later, GTA V (2013) cost more than $200 million to make—twice GTA IV’s budget. A decade after its release, GTA V has generated close to $8 billion, with hundreds of millions in annual revenue from subscriptions and in-game purchases—a model that its successor is sure to follow.
In fact, subscription fees and in-game purchases represented 78% of Take-Two Interactive’s (parent of GTA developer Rockstar Games) revenues in 2023.
Analysts estimate the to-be-released GTA VI’s costs at $2 billion, including marketing and other expenses. A massive open-world (set in the Miami-inspired “Vice City”), cutting edge graphics, and a reportedly brand-new game engine are all reasons for the game’s outsized budget.
For comparison, the current most expensive games to have been made include Red Dead Redemption 2 (also by Rockstar) and Star Citizen, both reportedly with a $500 million budget.
Meanwhile, Take-Two Interactive shares are up more than 50% for the year.
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