|Directed by||Gary Shore|
|Screenplay by||Matt Sazama |
by Bram Stoker
|Produced by||Michael De Luca|
|Edited by||Richard Pearson|
|Music by||Ramin Djawadi|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|October 10, 2014|
|Box office||$217.1 million|
Dracula Untold is a 2014 American action horror film directed by Gary Shore in his feature film debut and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. The plot creates an origin story for the titular character, rather than using the storyline of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel. In this adaptation, Dracula is the monster alter ego of historical figure Vlad III "the Impaler" Dracula. Luke Evans portrays the title character, with Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, and Charles Dance cast in supporting roles. Principal photography began in Northern Ireland on August 5, 2013.
Universal Pictures released the film in regular and IMAX cinemas on October 10, 2014. Dracula Untold grossed $217 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics.
In the 15th century, Vlad Dracula is the Prince of Wallachia and Transylvania. As a child, he was a royal ward in the palace of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and was trained to be a soldier in the Sultan's elite Janissary corps, where he became their most feared warrior. He was called "Vlad the Impaler, Son of the Dragon", after slaughtering thousands by impaling them on spears, but became sickened by his own acts and abandoned his past.
Now ruling his domains in peace, Vlad and his soldiers discover a helmet in a stream and fear that an Ottoman scouting party is preparing the way for invasion. The stream leads to Broken Tooth Mountain, the top of which has a cave carpeted in crushed bone. Within the cave, they are attacked by an inhumanly strong and fast humanoid creature, killing Vlad's retinue. Vlad barely escapes and returns to his castle, where he learns from a local monk that the creature is a vampire, a Roman general from the Roman Empire named Caligula, who was tricked by a demon for personal success and great powers, but was trapped in the cave as the price for this. Vlad celebrates an Easter feast with his wife Mirena and son Ingeras, when an Ottoman contingent arrives at the castle. Vlad offers them the usual tribute payment of silver coins, but the emissary wants an additional tribute of 1,000 boys to be trained as Janissaries. Vlad refuses. Mirena believes Vlad can convince Sultan Mehmed II to show mercy. Vlad offers himself in place of the boys, but Mehmed refuses and demands Vlad's son in addition.
Desperate, Vlad returns to the Broken Tooth Mountain cave to seek help from the vampire. The vampire offers him some of his blood, which will temporarily give Vlad the powers of a vampire. If he resists the intense urge to drink human blood for three days, he will turn back into a human. Otherwise, he will remain a vampire forever, and the ancient vampire will be freed. Vlad accepted the offer and was given supernatural abilities and the ability to transform into a cloud of bats. When he returns to the castle, the Ottoman army attacks, but Vlad single-handedly kills them all. He then sends most of the castle's subjects to Cozia Monastery for safety.
Mirena learns of Vlad's curse, as she sees him holding silver to keep himself weak when near his people to avoid revealing his condition to them or attacking them for blood. Vlad's sudden increased strength also arouses suspicion among his subjects.
That night, the Ottoman army marches on the monastery. Vlad commands an enormous swarm of bats to repel them; however, the soldiers are actually a decoy force, allowing a handful of Turks to infiltrate the monastery, kill many of the inhabitants, and kidnap Ingeras. Mirena tries to defend her son and falls from the edge of the monastery wall. Despite his superhuman speed, Vlad cannot reach her in time. Dying, Mirena pleads with Vlad to drink her blood before the sun rises and lifts his curse so that he will have the strength to save their son. Vlad reluctantly drinks her blood, triggering his final transformation into a full-blooded vampire and granting him even greater powers, and in doing so he frees the ancient vampire from his cave by breaking the magical seal imprisoning him. Vlad returns to the monastery and turns the small group of survivors and mortally wounded into vampires as well before he conjures blacks storm clouds to block out the sun.
At the Ottoman army's camp, Mehmed prepares for a massive invasion of Europe. Vlad and his vampires arrive, hidden by a large lightning storm, and slaughter every soldier while Vlad himself goes after Mehmed, who is holding Ingeras captive. Aware that vampires are weakened by silver, Mehmed has lined the floor of his tent with silver coins, reducing Vlad's strength and speed to that of a human — and impairing his vision — as Mehmed fights him with a silver sword. He overpowers Vlad and prepares to impale his heart with a wooden stake, but Vlad turns into a flock of bats and evades him. Taking the name "Dracula, Son of the Devil", he kills Mehmed with the stake and drinks his blood. Vlad then sends Ingeras away before his vampire army preys on him and dispels the storm clouds so that the vampires, including himself, will burn away and die in the light. However, a man who had previously observed Vlad's nature and offered to serve him drags his dying body out of the sunlight and drips his own blood onto Vlad's lips, restoring the vampire to life. With Vlad presumed dead and Europe saved from the Ottoman invasion, Ingeras is crowned the new Prince of Wallachia.
In the present day, Vlad meets a woman named Mina who strikingly resembles Mirena, in the streets of modern London. The vampire who cursed Vlad watches them from afar.
Anybody who's going to the film expecting a horror film, is going to be sorely disappointed. For me, it was telling a story. I was trying to tell a good drama, that has action-adventure elements to it.
In 2007, director Alex Proyas was hired by Universal Studios to direct the film Dracula: Year Zero. The film was to be produced by Michael De Luca and filmed in Australia. Later, Universal ended the deals with Proyas and scheduled star Sam Worthington because of the high budget. In 2012, Irish director Gary Shore was attached to direct the film. Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless wrote the script for the new film. The film was scheduled for release on August 8, 2014, later changed to October 10. The filming of Dracula in Northern Ireland was confirmed by First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness. Legendary Pictures was co-financing the film, with full involvement in May 2014.
In 2010, Sam Worthington was in negotiations to play Vlad the Impaler, and the film was set for release in 2011, officially signing to star in the film that August. In 2012, when Universal terminated the deal with director Alex Proyas, Sam Worthington backed out from the project and was replaced by Luke Evans the following year in April, playing the role of Vlad the Impaler, the man who would become the mythological bloodsucker Dracula. Other cast members who were cast in 2013 include Sarah Gadon and Dominic Cooper. Zach McGowan was also cast, in the role of Shkelgim, a Romani chief. Samantha Barks joined the cast to play a character from Eastern European folk tales known as Baba Yaga, a beautiful young woman who transforms into a savage witch, but her scenes were later cut from the film. Along with Barks more cast was added, including Charlie Cox (who was cast as Caligula, but his scenes were later cut), Charles Dance, Ferdinand Kingsley, William Houston, and Thor Kristjansson, the latter of whom would play the role of Bright Eyes, an Eastern European taken as a slave as a young boy and now an assassin in the Ottoman Army. Art Parkinson then joined on to play the role of Ingeras, son of Dracula.
The shooting of Dracula Untold took place in Northern Ireland from August to November 2013, officially beginning on August 5, starting in Roe Valley Country Park in Northern Ireland. The production company received permission for two days of shooting, on August 5–6, to film in the park. Other location shooting took place throughout Northern Ireland.
Luke Evans revealed in 2014 that he received training every day after work, rehearsed with the stuntmen, and ate only chicken, beef, fish and green vegetables to get ready for the shoot of the film.
Ramin Djawadi's score for the film was released by Backlot Music on October 7 on CD. Djawadi was originally chosen to work on the film's musical score after his work on Iron Man, Clash of the Titans, and Game of Thrones, and after signing on to score the film, he gave up his job of scoring the film Edge of Tomorrow, which was given to Christophe Beck. The official trailer features Lorde's cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", which was produced by Michael A. Levine and Lucas Cantor.
Dracula Untold was originally scheduled for release on August 8, 2014. The film was later delayed and released on October 10. The film was released in all formats including IMAX, and in over 25 foreign markets, on its opening weekend.
Dracula Untold was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 3, 2015. The Blu-ray release comes with an alternate opening, deleted scenes, The Land of Dracula (Interactive Map), and Luke Evans: Creating a Legend.
Dracula Untold grossed $56.3 million in North America and $159.2 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $215.5 million against a budget of $70 million.
Dracula Untold was released in North America on October 10, 2014, across 2,885 cinemas. It earned $1.3 million from Thursday late night showings from 2,133 theaters and $8.9 million in its opening day. The film debuted at #2 at the box office in its opening-weekend grossing $24.5 million behind Gone Girl. $4 million of the opening gross came from IMAX showings from 351 of its 2,887 locations which is the second-best October total behind only Gravity. Nine of the top 10 locations as well as 18 of the top 20 were in IMAX. The film played 57% male and 61% over-25-year-olds. In its second weekend the film fell 58% and earned $9.9 million.
A few days ahead of its U.S. debut, Dracula Untold was released in 25 foreign markets and earned $21 million. It had a strong $5 million four-day opening in Mexico. The highest debuts came from Australia ($9 million), Germany ($4 million), Malaysia ($3 million), and France ($1 million). The following weekend the film was released to over 42 foreign territories and earned $33.9 million. The film went number one in nine of the 17 new-released territories. It earned $2.5 million from 155 IMAX screens for an overall total of $4.5 million and an international total of $8.5 million. It went #1 in Bolivia, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Philippines, Slovakia, Thailand, Trinidad, and Vietnam. The film was released to four new markets in its third weekend and earned $14.7 million from 59 territories where Brazil generated $2.7 million and Spain collected $1.8 million. The film opened in Italy at #1 earning $3 million accounting 25% of the market shares. In Japan it earned $1.4 million.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 25% based on 138 reviews with an average rating of 4.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Neither awful enough to suck nor sharp enough to bite, Dracula Untold misses the point of its iconic character's deathless appeal". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 40 out of 100 based on reviews from 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter gave a negative review and compared it to I, Frankenstein from 2011. The Village Voice's Alan Scherstuhl criticized the film, saying that the greatest villain in cinema "was bitten on the neck and drained of his hottest blood". Simon Adams for Roger Ebert's website gave Dracula Untold a score of 2.5/4 along with an average review, commenting: "If you can selectively ignore this litany of inanity, you may find some substantial earthy pleasures in Dracula Untold". Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C grade and wrote the film doesn't work neither as a sweeping historical epic nor as an action-horror hybrid. Stephen Whitty wrote a negative review for The Star-Ledger: "If this Dracula can kill hundreds of enemies by himself—and he can, and does, in several dull and protracted battle scenes—then where's the suspense? If he's become a monster for noble reasons, then where's the dark conflict?" The Seattle Times' Moira MacDonald said that the film falls into a category of studio offerings that aren't good enough to be noteworthy or terrible enough to be truly entertaining.
A. A. Dowd of The A.V. Club and New York magazine's Bilge Ebiri gave a mildly positive review, commenting that the film is neither the worst nor the definitive adaptation of Dracula that they expected. Film critic Mick LaSalle gave the film two stars out of four and wrote for San Francisco Chronicle that Dracula Untold brings together elements from other more popular films. Daniel Krupa from IGN said that Dracula Untold recasts the famous vampire as a dark superhero and called the film a "fast-paced", "shallow" fun. Tim Robey of The Telegraph was positive to the film, commending acting of Luke Evans as Dracula, and considered to be superior to Snow White and the Huntsman from 2012. Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post reviewed and responded negatively to the film; although positive to visual effects, he considered that the film too much borrowed the elements from superhero films and comic books. Jordan Hoffman of New York Daily News praised the costume design and film interiors. Kevin C. Johnson for St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that Dracula Untold feels longer than its 95-minute running time.
New York Post's Kyle Smith wrote that Vlad the Impaler has all the edge of Vlasic the pickle. Brian Truitt of USA Today reacted negatively to Dracula Untold and said the film flirts with dullness. Toronto Star's Peter Howell asked: "Whatever possessed the makers of Dracula Untold to think we'd be interested in a tragically unhip romance that backstories the infamous bloodsucker?" The Boston Globe's Peter Keough criticized the film in several aspects. Film critic Ben Kenigsberg reviewed the film for The New York Times and commented that the classic tale of Dracula is drowned in computer-generated murk. James Berardinelli reviewed for website ReelViews and said that Dracula Untold is a generic vampire tale in the vein of Underworld franchise, combined with Van Helsing (2004) than a memorable re-interpretation of a legendary monster. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Hiltbrand said the film attempts to humanize one of the most fearful monsters in the Western crypt, but thought that it goes way overboard, past domestication and into canonization. Wesley Morris for the website Grantland was generally negative to the film.
Richard Corliss from Time magazine compared Dracula's origin story to Jesus Christ's story due to Dracula spending his childhood in a foreign land, and due to Dracula choosing to die (or become undead) in order to save his people. Corliss also complimented the film's use of its PG-13 rating by describing it as "robust". In his review, he wrote that the reviewers slammed the film, but Corliss was more positive. He later said that Evans carries Untold by admirably fulfilling the two essential functions of a period-movie hero: to enunciate comic-book dialogue with Shakespearean authority and his "great" look with his shirt off. Graham Killeen of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gave a positive review and wrote that Dracula Untold tries to be The Lord of the Rings of horror movies. Kofi Outlaw of Screen Rant gave a fairly moderate review to the film, stating that Dracula Untold is not a masterful or deep re-introduction to the franchise, but as basic genre fare, called it a "relatively" fun in its depiction of the monster in a different light. Los Angeles Times critic Gary Goldstein wrote a positive review, saying Dracula Untold is an "absorbing", "swiftly comprehensive" origin tale.
Years after its release, Dracula Untold (2014) would get positive attention from the public. In 2022, Michael John Petty from Collider wrote an article in defense of the film as a refreshing take on Dracula to humanize the character: "The way that Vlad fights for his wife, his son, and his country is a completely unique take on the character that encourages us, as with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, to take a deeper, more intentional look at the monster".
At the 41st Saturn Awards, Dracula Untold won Best Horror Film and was nominated for Best Costume and Best Make-up. It was nominated for Favorite Thriller Movie at the 41st People's Choice Awards. The film received nominations for Best Music and Best Horror Poster at the 2015 Golden Trailer Awards.
One week before the film's release, the tabloids reported that reshoots took place shortly after the end of production to tie the film into the planned cinematic universe. A representative from Universal later denied that Dracula Untold was meant to start any sort of universe. Producer Alissa Phillips hoped that Evans's character might have a cameo in a future The Mummy film and also spoke of a potential sequel to Dracula to reboot the franchise. Director Gary Shore commented that the film was optional for Universal to use it as a launching pad for the franchise. After the release of Dracula Untold, the connections to the shared universe were downplayed, and The Mummy (2017) was re-positioned as the first film in the series.
By January 2019, Universal announced plans to return to standalone features instead of using a shared film narrative, effectively ending the Dark Universe.