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America's $5 billion zombie industry: By the numbers
As zombies invade nearly all aspects of the arts and commerce, the undead are helping to keep the U.S. economy alive
A zombie flashmob: Zombies have inspired movies, Halloween costumes, and even Occupy Wall Street garb, and in the process, they've given a boost to the near-dead economy.
A zombie flashmob: Zombies have inspired movies, Halloween costumes, and even Occupy Wall Street garb, and in the process, they've given a boost to the near-dead economy.
REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
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merica is in the midst of a zombie renaissance, says Torie Bosch at Slate. It's no coincidence that "the undead have gone from lowbrow guilty pleasure to the favored monster of the erudite" just as the economy slipped into malaise, and then recession. As a pop-culture and marketing theme, "zombies are the perfect representation of the fiscal horror show" we're living through, especially for endangered white-collar workers who feel like the walking dead. Ironically, zombies' "contribution to Main Street's economy is very much alive," feeding more than $5 billion into U.S. cash registers in recent years, and even more globally, says Jon C. Ogg at 24/7 Wall Street. A guide, by the numbers:

$5.74 billion
Total U.S. "zombie economy," as calculated by 24/7 Wall Street

$2.5 billion
Value of all zombie-themed movies over the past decade — a number 24/7 Wall Street says is probably "a massive understatement"

$600 million
International box office haul for the Will Smith zombie hit I Am Legend (2007)

$600 million
International box office take for Milla Jovovich's four "sexed up" Resident Evil zombie movies (2002-2010)

1968
The year George Romero made Night of the Living Dead, the "granddaddy of zombie films" (which is royalty-free, so doesn't add much to the zombie economy)

1929
The year William Seabrook's novel The Magic Island hit U.S. shores, introducing zombies to America

7 million
Number of viewers for last week's season opener of the "not terribly compelling" zombie TV show The Walking Dead

$2.5 billion
Value of all zombie-themed video games, including arcade and computer versions and smartphone apps

46 million
Copies sold of Resident Evil video games, generating a "low-ball" value of $1.3 billion

8 million
Copies sold of Doom video games

$550 million
Value of zombie costumes and other gear, including $500 million in Halloween costumes (over 4 years) and $50 million in T-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise

411,000
Number of zombie products sold at CafePress.com

$10 million
Estimated value of all zombie walks, pub crawls, conventions, and other events requiring zombie get-ups

3,000
Number of zombies at a recent zombie walk in France

$30 million
"Grossly understated" value of zombie-related music, art, and social media, including Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, "Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera," personalized 9"-by-11" zombie portraits by "zombie artist" Rob Sacchetto, and the Zombie Music Fest in Grand Forks, N.D.

Sources: 24/7 Wall Street, BlackBook, CNBC, LAist, Slate, USA Today

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