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14 Times Movies Altered Real-Life Trends

Updated July 19, 2021 1.6k votes 294 voters 130.4k views14 items

List RulesVote up the most unexpected ways movies affected real life.

Whether it's merlot sales plummeting after the film Sideways, speeding tickets increasing after the release of a Fast & Furious movie, or even enlistment rates soaring after Top Gunmovies have been influencing people's behavior for decades. The consumer market is full of examples of products or activities that saw massive popularity spikes after they appeared in a film - or, in merlot's case, a popularity drop. Sometimes, movies deliberately try to build buzz for a certain product via product placement.

But often, trends that come from movies happen organically. There's just something about cinema that makes the audience say, "I want some of that." 

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  • 1

    Shawarma Sales Increased In Some Areas After 'The Avengers'

    2012's The Avengers features a post-credits scene in which Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, and the group all enjoy some hard-earned shawarma after defeating Loki and the Chitauri.

    According to TMZ, at least one restaurant in the Los Angeles area saw an uptick in sales correlating to the movie. The manager of a Lebanese restaurant claimed there was an 80% increase in sales thanks to the movie. It had a similar effect in New York City, where many vendors reported newcomers trying shawarma for the first time. 

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  • 2

    Interest In - And The Subsequent Abandonment Of - Dalmatians Rose After Various '101 Dalmatians' Films

    In November 1996, Disney released its live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians, which starred Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil. The next spring, The New York Times reported that animal shelters nationwide were seeing a rise in the number of Dalmatians that had been adopted and then returned. According to the Humane Society in 1997, this was the same cycle of adoption and returning that had happened in 1985 and 1991, when the original 1961 cartoon was rereleased. 

    The movies might make Dalmatian puppies seem cute and cuddly, but according to the Times, many new Dalmatian owners found them to be much more difficult as real-life pets. Many complained that Dalmatians shed excessively, bite, and don't love children like the movie claims they do. 

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  • 3

    Etch A Sketch Sales Increased After ‘Toy Story 2’

    Pixar added several new toys to the cast of Toy Story 2, and one of the quieter but still beloved new additions was the Etch A Sketch. First available in 1960, Etch A Sketch hit its peak in the '70s and '80s before competition from video games pushed its parent company, the Ohio Art Company, close to bankruptcy.

    After Toy Story 2 premiered in 1999, sales for the Etch A Sketch rose 20% and helped the Ohio Art Company return to profitability. The Etch A Sketch was sold to Spin Master in 2016, and now allows users to draw circles. 

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  • 4

    Reese’s Pieces Sales Skyrocketed After 'E.T.'

    In Steven Spielberg's seminal 1982 sci-fi drama E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the young Elliott (Henry Thomas) famously invites the lost alien into his home by feeding him Reese's Pieces, the peanut butter-flavored candies from Hershey's.

    Sales for the candy rose 65% in the month after the film's release. Best of all for Hershey's, the opportunity for product placement came about after its rival, Mars, refused to allow M&Ms to appear in the film.

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