LONDON (Reuters) - It's the multi-million dollar smile known and used the world over.
Frenchman Franklin Loufrani created the 'smiley face' logo over 45 years ago, which has gone on to spawn a multi-million dollar merchandise business and now a Hollywood film, starring award-winning actors, Patrick Stewart and Maya Rudolph.
The movie, which is released in UK cinemas on Friday, imagines a world inside cellphones where emojis rebel against portraying just one emotion all their lives.
Loufrani's son Nicolas helped expand the smiley face logo, originally created to go next to positive news in a French newspaper, to include a whole group of expressive facial expressions used on smart phones around the world.
"I realized that they could become a language on their own or a way to communicate," Nicolas told Reuters.
"A language of pictographs that can be recognized by anyone, anywhere in the world without anyone having to learn it and be used for digital communication."
Loufrani runs Smileyworld Ltd., a company that sells stuffed toys, keyrings, mugs, handbags and many other products based on smiley faces or 'emoji'.
It generates a $265 million turnover at retail, Loufrani said, with over 23 million spinoff products sold year round.
Reporting by Jane Witherspoon; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Richard Balmforth