While pop culture is certainly a more prevalent buzzword than it was a couple of decades ago, popular culture has always been a driver of societal norms and, particularly, entertainment preferences. Of course, with such massive exposure to entertainment these days, products that make it big in pop culture reach new heights of importance.
Pop culture both reflects and influences commonly held beliefs, and in entertainment, the commonly held belief tends to be that the product is worth engaging with, be it passively or actively. One of the most recent examples of a pop culture icon, which dominated the 2010s, was the television series Game of Thrones. It was so closely followed by millions and became the foundation of a massive online community, with the outcry after its final two seasons being a testament to how prominent it had become in pop culture. Knowing how colossal the pop culture ecosystem – for lack of a better term – can be, many producers and third parties seek to capitalize. Now, you can almost gauge how big a pop culture property is by how it’s invited or invades other sectors.
A part of the colossal collection brand
While the company has been around since 1998, originally having the aim of creating nostalgia-inducing products, it wasn’t until the turn of the 2010s that Funko truly took off, courtesy of its Funko Pop! line. The vinyl figures have become wildly popular and diverse, ranging from figures of classic entertainment products to active sportspeople. Their prevalence in the geek scene and in popular culture continues, with even people like Kevin Smith brought in to unveil new models at San Diego Comic-Con. If a property has reached a great enough standing in popular culture, you can bet that Funko will look to acquire a license to make some Pop! figures.
Some other stores go further, with the likes of Hot Topic getting exclusive vinyl figures from Funko because they too recognize the appeal of these major brands. Of course, companies have been making merchandise for entertainment products for decades – just look at Hasbro and Star Wars – but the range that Funko covers makes the brand rather special within pop culture as you can collect across different franchises, just as the Guinness World Records holder did to get a collection numbering 7,095. Furthermore, many Funko Pop! figures have notably increased in value over time, with Alex DeLarge from Clockwork Orange notoriously selling for some $13,000 on the secondary market.
Invading other entertainment platforms
We are in the midst of another wave of entertainment products that were once restrained to a set platform – such as TV, cinema, or video gaming – being pulled into another. This isn’t anything new overall, with the Warner Bros release of Tomb Raider in 2018 rebooting the cinematic arm of the legendary game franchise, but now there’s another form of online entertainment that has opened up to these ventures. The online entertainment medium of casino gaming has quickly found itself to be nimble and popular enough to take on these colossal brands and give fans a new way to experience them in the entertainment format. This is invariably done in the form of a slot game, as shown at Betway. The platform features Jurassic World: Raptor Riches, Jurassic Park, and Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs, all boasting crossover franchises and stars. The dinosaur movie franchise, according to CNBC, is worth $4.99 billion, so it is a colossal property to have as a slot. Furthermore, only its sixth film is on the way, with the trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom out now. As mentioned above, Tomb Raider has made its way to the big screen as well, but Lara Croft has long been an icon of entertainment.
The new way that franchises approach gaming
It wasn’t long ago that every blockbuster movie, and several others, would team up with a video game development company to release a movie game in line with the film’s release. It was a way to capitalize on the property in more than one way. However, this was phased out towards the end of the PlayStation 2, with developers on more advanced hardware not being able to keep up with the Hollywood schedule.
Now, there’s a new way for pop culture products to shift into this immersive form of entertainment: mobile gaming. Mobile games, particularly freemium mobile games, have become the target products to expand a pop culture icon’s reach. As detailed by Harper’s Bazaar, Kim Kardashian’s net worth is $1 billion; she has a very popular mobile app game called Kim Kardashian: Hollywood – even though she’s a social media personality and not an actress, which you’d more commonly associate with Hollywood. Another fine example that’s done it all is The Lord of the Rings. From novels to films to being some of the final worthwhile movie video games, the dominant high fantasy world created by JRR Tolkien has returned in mobile gaming with Rise to War. Even massive video game properties now seek to expand their allure and prominence in pop culture through the incredibly accessible scene of mobile gaming, with Nintendo and its range of app games showcasing this perfectly. Even though they sell the premium installments of the games at an unwavering price point, you can play Mario Kart Tour, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, Fire Emblem Heroes, and now Pikmin Bloom as free-to-start games.
As pop culture brands are sought to be milked for all that they’re worth more and more, we can see them expanding into new sectors. Right now, if a property has a range of Funko Pop! figures, has stepped into another medium of entertainment, and has one or more free mobile games, you can bet that its reach is large enough to make it a potential pop culture icon.