Sherlock Inc. The films, the TV dramas and even the hotels
The great detective has shed his deerstalker and pipe to take his place at the centre of a very modern, multimillion-pound industry
Emily Dugan is social affairs correspondent for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday. She was previously a news reporter for The Independent on Sunday. Her investigations into human trafficking have twice been awarded Best Investigative Article at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards and her human rights journalism was shortlisted for the Gaby Rado Memorial prize at the 2012 Amnesty Media Awards.
Sunday 18 December 2011
He has shed the deerstalker hat and pipe, opium smoking is out, and the Hound of the Baskervilles is nowhere to be seen. Sherlock Holmes may have started life as a Victorian detective, but now he has been recast as the star of 2012.
What began as a series of short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the end of the 19th century has spawned an international multimillion-pound industry, and the coming year is on track to be a major one for the amateur sleuth.
As Hollywood's version of him comes to cinemas this weekend, with Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, pundits are already predicting that it will have gained blockbuster status by the new year.
The film will be followed swiftly by a major BBC television drama early next year, and hotels and tour operators are already seeing guests pour in. Even books – the original format for the detective – are still bringing in large sums, as authors create new scenarios for Holmes and his sidekick, Dr Watson.
The TV producer Alan Yentob believes the enduring appeal of Holmes is partly down to his re-imagining in different guises. "First, people like him because he's a bit of a maverick. But the interpretations of Holmes over the years have somehow made him even more mysterious. He's not an establishment figure; he's still unknowable... He's a bit like Doctor Who because there's something magical about him and people don't know how he does it."
Yentob also puts Holmes's longevity down to his grounding in London. "He's a fictional character, but because he's been so clearly placed in Baker Street he's seen as more than a fictional character. He's become part of the history of London."
The children's spin-offs
Andy Lane's reimagining of Holmes as a teenager has already spawned four Young Sherlock Holmes books, bringing in more than £200,000 in 2011. The latest, Fire Storm, released last month, has already sold more than 5,500 copies in Britain.
For £595 a night at the Langham Hotel, you can stay in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Suite, get breakfast for two, two tickets to a Sherlock Holmes walking tour, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which mentions the Langham. The Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes boutique hotel on Baker Street offers "Sherlock Scones" afternoon tea for £6.95.
Starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was released in the UK last week. The film opened with an expected gross of around $65m (£42m). The Warner Bros film is a follow-up to 2009's hugely successful Sherlock Holmes, which earned more than half a billion dollars worldwide. A video game tied to the film is due for release early next year.
The TV drama
When Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman starred in a modern three-part version, the BBC hit on a franchise almost as successful as Doctor Who. The first series of Sherlock achieved eight to nine million viewers for each episode. A new series of three 90-minute films will start on New Year's Day.
The House of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel, by Anthony Horowitz, has shot up to number seven on the Nielsen hardback fiction chart since its release last month. Further books include a modern spin-off, The Holmes Affair, by Graham Moore and A Study In Sherlock, short stories by authors including Lee Child and Neil Gaiman.
The walking tours
London Walks – a company that offers a Holmes-inspired tour that leads to 221B Baker Street – says attendance is up 100 per cent on last year. David Tucker, co-owner of London Walks, said: "I think there are more people going on it now because of the film. Sherlock Holmes is one of about half a dozen names associated with the capital. He's up there with William Shakespeare, Jack the Ripper and Queen Victoria, because the imagery is so powerful."
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