Rise of the brand ‘Ben 10’: A look back as ‘Ben 10 vs The Universe’ premiered today

Cartoon Network and CN HD+ premiered the TV movie, Ben 10 vs The Universe, today on 10 October (10.10.2020) at 10:10 am, taking forward one of the most popular animated IPs.

In this movie, Ben 10 faces off with the whole galaxy with the return of his past to double the damage on Team Tennyson and planet Earth itself, forcing Ben to go interstellar to save the day. Meanwhile, Gwen and Grandpa Max team up to help protect the world in Ben’s absence. But when our boy hero is confused for the villain in space, Ben must figure out a way to get back to Earth to help save it! – reads the synopsis. The latest animate film intends to live up and expand the legacy of Ben 10.

With the release of the latest Ben 10 TV movie, here’s looking back at the growth of the ‘brand’ Ben 10.

Spanning 14 years, the animated property is CN’s longest-running franchise till date. Created by Man of Action Studios and produced by Cartoon Network Studios, the franchise revolves around a boy named Ben Tennyson who acquires a watch-style alien device, the Omnitrix, which contains DNA of different alien species and allows him to transform into ten aliens initially and later on new aliens are added in the Omnitrix.

Ben 10 has enjoyed tremendous fan following worldwide as well as widespread critical acclaim, winning three Emmy Awards. Thomas Perkins won the 34th Daytime Emmy Awards for ‘Outstanding Individual in Animation’ for the franchise in 2007; Robert Hargreaves, Robert Serda and John Hegedes grabbed the ‘Outstanding Sound Mixing – Live Action and Animation’ for Ben 10 at the 36th Daytime Emmy Awards in 2009; Carlos Sanches bagged the ‘Outstanding Sound Mixing – Animation’ award at the 40th Daytime Emmy Awards, keeping aside several nominations. 

The animated IP consists primarily of five television series and four films, which aired between August 2007 and March 2012. The TV series around the boy are – Ben 10 (2005), Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Ben 10: Omniverse, Ben 10 (2016). The films (including tele-movies) consist of Secret of the Omnitrix (2007), Race Against Time (2007), Alien Swarm (2009), Destroy All Aliens (2012), Ben 10 Versus the Universe (2020). Most of the shows have been released on DVD. 

Owing to the phenomenal success of the franchise, Bandai manufactured a Ben 10 toy line for the first four shows and Playmates Toys for the 2016 reboot. Worldwide, the franchise has grossed over $6 billion in retail sales. Various Ben 10 merchandise that are available globally has witnessed enviable popularity across the globe including comic books, card games (such as Top Trumps), toys, video games, LEGO construction sets, bedding, colouring books, footwear, and watches (the Omnitrix and the Ultimatrix). 

Ben 10 also collaborated with McDonald’s and received three Happy Meal promotions internationally, as well as one in America in August 2011. The toys are coloured translucent figures of some Omnitrix/Ultimatrix aliens and their Ultimate forms, with a small photo of Ben inside. The Alien Force toys have four rings, with each one being an alien (Goop, Jetray, Alien X, Chromastone) with features linked with their powers. 

But, that’s not all! Beside the merchandising and toy line, several video games of different formats have also been launched around the franchise starting from 2006 with the release of Ben 10 for HyperScan, while its first official video game, Protector of Earth came out in 2007. 12 games have been released so far namely: Ben 10, Ben 10: Protector of Earth, Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben 10 Alien Force: Vilgax Attacks, Ben 10 Alien Force: The Rise of Hex, Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction, Ben 10: Galactic Racing, Ben 10: Omniverse, Ben 10: Omniverse 2, Ben 10: All Out Attack!, Ben 10 (2017 video game) and Ben 10: Power Trip.

Commenting on how the latest film enhances and further expands the brand of Ben 10, WarnerMedia APAC Kids head Leslie Lee told AnimationXpress, “Like every big franchise, Ben 10 has come in all shapes and sizes. Over the past 15 years, he’s been the star of 2D, 3D and live-action iterations – both series and TV movies – and of course, he’s also inspired games, consumer products and toys.

Leslie Lee

The main advantage of TV movies is that they allow for much more in-depth stories to develop compared to shorter episodes. The stories in TV movies also tend to be more ‘epic’ in nature as the format lends itself to even larger-scale adventures. For instance, Ben 10 Vs. The Universe: The Movie provides the opportunity for Ben to explore a whole new world in space, and engage with different aliens and villains without breaking the story up into smaller pieces. That will really appeal to Ben 10 fans and give them something different and fresh to enjoy.

Fans also loved how the TV movie launched almost everywhere in the world on the same day – 10:10 am on 10 October – giving the franchise some extra glitz and blockbuster appeal. It will be an event not to be missed, and we’re excited to see the reaction from kids and families in India.”