The shuffling hordes of rancid undead are estimated to be worth nearly $6 billion.
Zombies! I've never cared for 'em. Rotting corpses in various states of disrepair are bad enough on their own, but when they get up and wander around and start eating faces, well, that's just downright creepy. Yet it's obvious that a lot of people don't share my distaste for the undead horde, because the so-called "zombie economy" is seriously big business, with an estimated value of nearly $6 billion.
That's a very loose estimate, but it's also "grossly undercalculated," according to MSNBC, which noted that the addition of "money spent in total around the zombie genre" would raise that number dramatically. Movies are a big part of that total, naturally, adding up to a lowball value of $2.5 billion, which would probably be closer to $3 billion once DVD sales and rentals are figured in.
And then there are videogames. From Resident Evil and Typing of the Dead to Call of Duty and Plants vs. Zombies, the game industry conservatively adds up to another $2.5 billion. Comic books, magazines and television are estimated to have a combined value of at least $50 million, books and novels are good for $100 million, and a whopping $500 million has been spent on Halloween costumes and accessories over a four-year period. Other miscellaneous zombie-related crapola, like t-shirts, coffee mugs and iPhone cases, are probably worth at least another $50 million.
Everything else is comparative chump change, although still nothing to sneeze at: $10 million for conventions, $10 million for music, another $10 million for "art" and $10 million more in digital value, an admittedly tricky figure attached to advertising on Facebook, social networks and so forth.
Add it all up and what you get is $5.74 billion, a figure that's expected to grow dramatically by the end of 2012 thanks to the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, the upcoming World War Z and a fifth Resident Evil film. That's not bad for a gang of festering brain-suckers with less personality than the average hamster. But where does that appeal come from? You're not going to see too pre-teen girls running around wearing "Team Braaaainz" t-shirts, after all.
"I think [zombies] reflect our very real anxieties of these crazy scary times. A zombie story gives people a fictional lens to see the real problems of the world," Zombie Survival Guide author Max Brooks explained. "You can deal with societal breakdown, famine, disease, chaos in the streets, but as long as the catalyst for all of them is zombies, you can still sleep."
Shooting them in the head is fun, too.
Thanks to Caliostro for the tip.