The original ThunderCats show was animated in Japan while being produced, written and voice acted in the United States. The series was originally distributed by Rankin-Bass Productions’ then parent company Telepictures Corporation, which would later merge with Lorimar Productions in 1986. In January 1989, Lorimar-Telepictures was purchased by and folded into Warner Bros., whose television syndication arm would eventually assume distribution of the show; Warner Bros. has had the rights to the series (and all Lorimar-Telepictures programming) from that point on. As with many cartoon franchises in the 80s, toys and merchandise were developed and became must have items for millions of 80s kids!
5. Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera media franchise, centered on a film series created by George Lucas. It depicts the adventures of various characters “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.
The franchise began in 1977 with the release of the film Star Wars (later subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope in 1981), which became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. It was followed by the successful sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi(1983); these three films constitute the original Star Wars trilogy. A prequel trilogy was released between 1999 and 2005, which received mixed reactions from both critics and fans. A sequel trilogy began in 2015 with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All seven films were nominated for Academy Awards (with wins going to the first two films released) and have been commercial successes, with a combined box office revenue of over US$7.5 billion, making Star Wars the third highest-grossing film series. Spin-off films include the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and Rogue One (2016), the latter of which is the first in a planned series of anthology films.
Merchandising all really started with the original Star Wars film in 1977, the producers paved the way for many more film franchises to make millions of dollars in merchandising revenue.
The series has spawned an extensive media franchise including books, television series, computer and video games, theme park attractions and lands, and comic books, resulting in significant development of the series’ fictional universe. Star Wars holds a Guinness World Records title for the “Most successful film merchandising franchise”. In 2015, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at US$42 billion,making Star Wars the second highest-grossing media franchise of all time.