So The Hollywood Reporter just did a bit of number-crunching, and have pronounced that since Twilight first hit theaters in November of 2008, Hollywood has already grossed a staggering $7 billion from vampire-related properties, with worldwide box-office grosses accounting for $3 billion of that total. This might not seem like such a seismic cultural phenomenon when you consider that films about humans have domestically grossed nearly $20 billion in that same time period, but the breadth of our obsession with vampires is what puts those undead blood-suckers in a league of their own.
Despite the fact that vampires wantonly feast on the blood of the innocent, Americans young and old can't help but invite this latest wave of folkloric parasites into their homes and hearts. Teenage girls across the country are tearing Justin Bieber off their walls in favor of giant Max Schreck posters, and you're unlikely to find an adult who can't quote Park Chan-Wook's Thirst from start to finish and in Korean. ...No? Okay, so maybe the financial figures are just more evidence that the True Blood and Twilight franchises are both wildly popular, but with the effortless parody Vampires Suck almost out-grossing the deservedly ballyhooed likes of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the final two Twilight films on the horizon, it's time to concede that the $7 billion barrier actually means something beyond confirming the prevailing obsessions of our day? Could seeing a vampire in a film become as ordinary as seeing a kid in a film, or a Samuel L. Jackson?
In short - I doubt it. Vampires were around before we got here and they'll be here long after we're gone (they're immortal, you know), their longevity is a result of the extent to which they tap directly into our greatest shared desires, and they're as narratively versatile as mythological creatures get. But this is a phenomenon, and the blockbuster content will dry up. The Harry Potter films have collectively grossed $5.5 billion thus far, and though they'll continue to inform the adventure fare Hollywood churns out, I don't expect to see a glut of films about boy wizards in the wake of The Deathly Hallows (I do, however, expect to see a glut of films about endless camping trips).
With studios already gearing up for projects such as The Passage, Dracula Year Zero, and Castlevania, Hollywood is obviously going to ride this money train and keep blood-suckers in theaters for as long as the trend holds (insert joke about AMC doing their part with bedbugs, here), but the poor performance of films like Daybreakers and The Vampire's Assistant suggests that fangs aren't enough to guarantee success, and that lust and branding still trump subject. I've yet to be shown any definitive correlation between the respective successes of Twilight and True Blood beyond the fact that the former probably proved to HBO that a "genre" show was worth a shot - the rest can largely be attributed to fit naked people doing bad, bad things to each other. So Hollywood will read as much into those $7 billion as they can because they have nothing else to go by, and vampire projects will be greenlit that might not have been otherwise, but all that number really tells me is that Hollywood does itself a favor by respectfully acknowledging that the stuff of B-movies can also be the stuff of A-money.
Besides, everyone knows that there can never be a greater vampire film than the legendary Nicolas Cage vehicle, Vampire's Kiss. Take a deep breath, accept that your life is about to be forever changed, and observe: