Entertainment biz fangful for vampires

Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:34am EDT
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By Jay A. Fernandez and Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Hollywood has repeatedly peddled the apocalyptic threat from aliens, machines, comets, viruses and zombies, but who was watching the vampires?

Never exactly absent from the entertainment scene, those eternal bloodsuckers lately have infiltrated everything from big screens and little screens to bookstore shelves, clothing racks, download services, video games and video, record and jewelry stores.

The low-budget Fox/New Regency "Twilight" parody "Vampires Suck" has grossed $20 million in its first six days, and 5 million regular viewers are rabidly following HBO's newest hit, "True Blood," as it swoops toward its season 3 finale September 12. Meanwhile, Justin Cronin's "The Passage," Stephenie Meyer's "Breaking Dawn" and Charlaine Harris' "Dead and Gone" hover on best-seller lists.

These charming, deadly immortals are everywhere. And as a result, they're spilling as much green as red -- about $7 billion since the "Twilight" film franchise bowed less than two years ago, according to Hollywood Reporter estimates.

What started with some ancient, hysterical myths and a pair of spooky 19th century tales -- John Polidori's "The Vampyre" (1819) and Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (1897) -- has bloomed into an entire inexhaustible industry.

"By starting with one simple mythological creature that's been part of our literary universe for centuries, you can create a story that has it all: romance, horror, action, special effects, sex, epic love, wish fulfillment, romantic leading men, delicious bad-boy villains, female badasses, damsels in distress, death, monsters and, ultimately, the perfectly flawed hero who would give it all up if it meant they wouldn't have to spend eternity alone," says Julie Plec, writer and exec producer of the CW series "The Vampire Diaries." It doesn't get more universal than that."

That gets to the bloody heart of it. Because they're not specific to genre, vampires have the freedom to roam not just across mediums but from romance to horror to political commentary to humor. Their versatility is endless, swinging from chaste innocence to sexy violence, so the potential audience is everyone.

No other subject has sunk its teeth into pop culture quite so pervasively.   Continued...