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The View from Sherlock Peoria
No. 503, February 19, 2012

The Half Billion Dollar Man

Last weekend, Sherlock Holmes became the half billion dollar man.

The move "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows" had brought in $504.2 million dollars in ticket sales worldwide . . . and it still hadn't been released in Japan, a country with its share of Sherlockians. And that is some serious money.

Remember Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man? Well, it would take at least a small army of 83 Six Million Dollar Men to equal the net worth of Sherlock Holmes, the newly minted Half Billion Dollar Man. And that's just the beginning of how huge Holmes's latest valuation is.

If England of 1870 had only two hundred citizens who made as much money as "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows," the rest of the country could have gone on holiday all year long. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of all of the United Kingdom in 1870 was only two hundred times that movie's take.

Add the latest half billion to a few other Sherlock Holmes paydays -- $209 million for the original Downey "Sherlock Holmes," $19 million for "Young Sherlock Holmes," $8.5 million for "Without A Clue," $38 million for "The Great Mouse Detective -- and you can start to see where Sherlock Holmes has probably made a great, great deal of money since his birth two centuries back.

But really, Sherlock Holmes has always been a money-maker.

In the final moments of "The Priory School," Sherlock Holmes comments that the most interesting thing he's seen on the case is the check for 6,000 pounds (or possibly 12,000 -- do we ever know for sure?) which Holmes has in his pocket, patting it with the ironic words, "I am a poor man." A rough estimate places the modern value of that check at $600,000 (or $1,200,000). While that may have been the high water mark for Holmes, it does push him well into the wealthy one percent that we hear so much about these days. And during the whole of his career, Holmes might even made as one minor Sherlock Holmes theatrical motion picture.

For one man, that's pretty good. But for a legend, well, he's doing pretty good there, too. Earlier this weekend the movie site IMDB tweeted, "This fictional character holds the record for being the most frequently portrayed in film & TV." And they don't make movies and television shows for purely artistic reasons. There are a lot of dollars behind that record.

So is Sherlock Holmes now "the Half Billion Dollar Man?"

I think we can probably drop the "Half."

Your humble correspondent,
Brad Keefauver

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Past 2012 Columns

January 1, 2012
A League (Out)
Of Her Own

January 8, 2012
Why I Hate PBS

January 15, 2012
'Tis Done

January 22, 2012
The Sherlock Bomb

January 29, 2012
The Bleeding Coolest Thing In Decades

February 5, 2012
And Now A Word For Their Sponsor . . .

February 12, 2012
Out of Bounds

February 19, 2012
The Half Billion Dollar Man