Thousands of tween and teenage girls were lined up as early as five days before the premier of Twilight last week in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the actors that play the beloved roles they have grown to adore over the course of the three books and four consequent films. Twilight, as is widely recognized, has become a curious cult phenomenon with its devotees eating up merchandise and any chance to feel close to the characters. In the parking lot outside the Nokia Center in Los Angeles, the cars of the many super fans may have been adorned with bumper stickers that read, “I drive like a Cullen,” the surname for the hunk vampire male lead. Others may have been playing the multiple soundtracks on the drive over or come toting dolls representing the characters.
Even those who were not lined up outside of the premier exhibited their enthusiasm for the franchise during opening weekend. The film took in $283.5 million world-wide between Friday and Sunday, making it the second highest grossing film of the year after Harry Potter. The production company behind the film, Summit Entertainment, are in for a hefty pay day, but with super fans around the country snapping up merchandise, they weren’t the only ones cashing in.
Plenty more people and companies have also been padding their wallets with Twilight money.
Kirsten Stewart and Robert Pattinson: The two lead actors were rumored to be paid $25 million, or a projected 7.5 percent of total gross profits to reprise their roles in the final two films.
Hot Topic (HOTT): Once known for shilling gothic merchandise, Hot Topic has taken a turn for the tween in recent years and began a full scale embrace of Twilight Merchandise. The company, though it continues to struggle and seems to lack a brand focus these days, has been enjoying a major sales boost thanks to Twilight themed teeshirts, pillowcases, soundtracks and other confusing items flying off shelves.
Amazon (AMZN): Amazon is a major online seller of Twilight merchandise from the books and DVDs to the teeshirtsand CDs. While Amazon sells everything under the sun, the boost from the additional Twilight merchandise is sure to add a little extra zest to the company’s upcoming earnings report.
Mattel (MAT): Mattel has cashed in on Twilight by creating dolls in the likeness of the series cast of characters, from Vampires to Werewolves. Not only are there Bella, Edward and Jacob dolls, but Mattel has made plastic likenesses for even the smaller roles in the series, to appeal to fans who will not stop until they acquire the complete collection. The dolls, which have been on sale since Oct 2009, retail for between $24.99 and $34.99.
Forks, Washington: While the town in the Twilight film was chosen by the author Stephanie Meyer for being the rainiest town in the country, the tourism in the formerly sleepy Pacific Northwest village is now booming. Visitors come from across the country to experience the place where their favorite characters reportedly reside. Today, the town’s Chamber of Commerce website lists the following businesses as sellers of related merchandise, Forks Outfitters, Chinook Pharmacy, Shadynook Cottage, Shanny’s, Leppell’s Flowers & Gifts, J&D Design, and the Fern Gallery. These, according to an author from The Atlantic who has visited the town, account for nearly every store on the main drag.
Volvo (VOLVY): Not even the well- respected Swedish car maker can resist the temptation cashing in on Twilight. Edward Cullen, the lead character drove a Volvo C30 in the books and films, the association could very well help the company improve sales among the 30 and 40ish women who consider themselves “Twilight Moms” or adult superfans of the series. The car’s inclusion in the films is essentially free advertising or product placement which Volvo has intensified by parlaying it into social media involvement. The company invited fans of the Twilight Saga fans to register to play Volvo’s online game “Journey to the Wedding” for an opportunity to win a trip for two to Rio de Janeiro (where the fictional couple spends their honeymoon after getting married in the most recent installment). While measuring the exact fiscal impact of the Twilight association would be difficult, the extra exposure couldn’t have hurt sales.
Little Brown and Company: Little Brown and Company is the publishing house that initially bought Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novels for $750,000. They more than recouped their investment with the books selling over 100 million copies and the movies continuing to boost sales.
Stephanie Meyer: In 2010, Forbes, ranked Meyer as the #59 most powerful celebrity with annual earnings of upwards of $40 million.