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10-21-2004, 01:18 PM
Source: Walt Disney Company

Forbes.com Names Disney Home to Three of Top Five Most Valuable Character Franchises in the World

Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh Estimated at $5.8 and $5.3 Billion, Respectively

BURBANK, Calif., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) , owns three of the top ten character franchises according to Forbes.com's annual "Top Earning Fictional Characters List." Forbes.com estimates the top-ten fictional characters grossed more than $25 billion in 2003. Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh -- number one and two, respectively -- topped all character franchises, with Disney/Pixar's $860 million box office blockbuster, Finding Nemo, rounding out the top five. Collectively, all three character franchises amount to nearly half the combined retail sales of the entire "Fictional Billionaires" list. Disney's Power Rangers and Disney/Pixar's Buzz Lightyear were included in Forbes.com's "Near Misses" list. Forbes.com's complete list can currently be viewed at: www.forbes.com.


"At Disney, we strive to develop characters that engage a child's imagination, tell stories that connect with families and find ways for our characters to live on in the hearts and minds of children everywhere," said Matt Ryan, senior vice president of brand management at The Walt Disney Company. "The consistent top ranking of Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh on Forbes.com's list tells us that these characters live on with new generations. And we will continue to introduce classic characters, like Nemo, which children can enjoy for years to come."


Mickey and his friends, Donald, Goofy and Pluto accounted for $5.8 billion in retail sales, up from $4.7 billion in 2003, to claim the top spot from Disney's other multi-billion dollar character franchise, Winnie the Pooh.


"It's not just kids who love Mickey and his entourage either: Disney says Mickey's impressive boost in earnings has been driven in part by a surge in popularity of vintage adult apparel," according to Forbes.com.


Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger and the rest of the 100 Acre Wood gang recorded $5.3 billion in retail sales. The Walt Disney Company's third billion dollar franchise include Disney Princess -- featuring Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Jasmine from Aladdin and Snow White -- a franchise that recorded an excess of $2.4 billion in global retail sales. Disney Princess was not included on Forbes.com's list due to the fact the characters originated from multiple stories.


"The resurgence of Mickey to this year's top ranking can be attributed to the successful programs we implemented, including the Mickey 75th Anniversary, Mickey postage stamp program, vintage Mickey fashion line, as well as new DVD and television releases surrounding the character," said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide. "Although Disney Princess was not eligible for this list, the power of the Disney Princess brand is truly making its mark among young girls -- with 300 percent growth in the past three years alone."


To qualify to be on the Forbes.com list, a character must be both "fictional" -- not based on a real person -- and a "character" in the sense of having made its debut in a narrative story -- book, a film or videogame. To calculate the earnings of the world's top fictional characters, Forbes.com added together worldwide toy/merchandise sales, videogame sales, publishing and box-office revenue, as well as DVD/VHS sales and rental revenue.