Reign of Fire (film)
Get Reign of Fire Film essential facts below. View Videos or join the Reign of Fire Film discussion. Add Reign of Fire Film to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Reign of Fire Film
Reign of Fire
A dragon flying over the British Houses of Parliament breathing fire on the city below.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRob Bowman
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Gregg Chabot
  • Kevin Peterka
Music by
CinematographyAdrian Biddle
Edited by
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • 12 July 2002 (2002-07-12)
Running time
102 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • United States
Budget$60 million[2]
Box office$82.2 million[2]

Reign of Fire is a 2002 dystopian, post-apocalyptic science fantasy film directed by Rob Bowman and starring Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale, with the screenplay written by Matt Greenberg, Gregg Chabot, and Kevin Peterka. The film also features Izabella Scorupco and Gerard Butler.

The film is set in England in the year 2020, twenty years after London tunneling project workers inadvertently awakened dragons from centuries of slumber and the creatures have subsequently replaced humans as the dominant species on Earth. With the fate of mankind at stake, two surviving parties, led by Quinn Abercromby (Bale) and Denton Van Zan (McConaughey), find that they must work together to hunt down and destroy the beasts in a desperate attempt to take back the world.

The film was released by Touchstone Pictures on 12 July 2002. Upon release, it received generally mixed reviews from critics and audiences and was a box office disappointment, grossing far less than expected, only $82 million on a $60 million budget.[3]


At an unspecified date in the early 21st century, during construction on the London Underground, workers penetrate a cave and a huge dragon emerges from hibernation, incinerating the workers with its breath. The only survivor is a boy, Quinn Abercromby (Ben Thornton), whose mother, Karen (Alice Krige)--the project engineer--is crushed to death protecting him. The dragon flies out of the Underground, and soon more dragons appear. It is revealed through newspaper clippings and the narration that dragons are the species responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. They are speculated to hibernate after destroying most living creatures until the planet repopulates. Mankind's militaristic resistance, including nuclear weapons in 2010, only hastens the destruction, and by 2020, humans are nearly extinct.

Quinn (Christian Bale) leads a community of survivors at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland. They are starving while awaiting harvest. Although most trust Quinn, some are restless and defiant. Eddie (David Kennedy) and his group steal a truck to pick tomatoes, though it is too soon for harvest. They are attacked by a dragon. One man is killed and the rest are surrounded by fire. Quinn, Creedy (Gerard Butler), and Jared (Scott Moutter) rescue them with old fire engines, but the dragon kills Eddie's son before escaping.

The Kentucky Irregulars, a group of Americans led by Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey), arrive in an armored convoy with a Chieftain tank and an AgustaWestland AW109 utility helicopter, the latter of which is piloted by Alex Jensen (Izabella Scorupco). Van Zan has a system for hunting dragons and knows their weakness: poor vision during twilight. With Quinn's help, Van Zan, Alex, and their team hunt and slay the dragon who destroyed the crops.

The survivors enjoy a celebration at the castle that night but Van Zan is embittered by the loss of three of his men. Van Zan and Alex tell Quinn that all the dragons they have found have been female. The Americans believe there is only one male--if they kill it, the dragons can no longer reproduce. Although Quinn knows about the male dragon, which killed his mother, he refuses to help.

In open defiance, Van Zan orders his soldiers to enlist the castle's best men despite Quinn's argument that if they find the male it will kill them and put the inhabitants of the castle at risk. Quinn attacks Van Zan in front of the castle's inhabitants, but Van Zan gives Quinn a beating before the crowd pulls Van Zan off. Van Zan and some of the castle's men then depart, but true to Quinn's warnings, their caravan is attacked by the dragon in the ruins of a town 66 miles (106 km) from London. The dragon then finds the castle and kills most of the inhabitants. Quinn gets the survivors to a bunker, but they are trapped when the dragon returns; during its final attack, Creedy is killed.

Van Zan and Jensen return and free everyone trapped in the bunker. Quinn decides to help Van Zan and Alex hunt down the male dragon. They fly to London and find hundreds of small dragons, one of which is cannibalized by the larger male. Van Zan plans to shoot explosives down the dragon's throat with a crossbow. He fires, but the dragon destroys the arrow and eats Van Zan. Quinn and Alex lure the dragon to ground level, where Quinn fires another explosive into the dragon's mouth, killing it.

Later, Quinn and Alex erect a radio tower on a hill overlooking the North Sea. There has been no dragon sighting for over three months. Jared arrives to say they have contacted a group of French survivors who want to speak to their leader. Quinn tells Jared he is now their leader and dedicates himself to rebuilding.



Kevin Peterka and Gregg Chabot wrote the original screenplay in 1996, after which they sold it to Spyglass Media Group.[4] In 2000 Matt Greenberg revised the screenplay for production.[5]

Reign of Fire was filmed in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains, at the Glendasan Valley Lead Mines. Permission was given on the condition that the area was not damaged and the crew removed all sets once filming was complete. However, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe stopped many planned scenes from being filmed due to quarantine restrictions.

The dead dragon was designed and built by Artem, with visual effects by Secret Lab. The dragon's digital effects posed a problem for animators:

"In recent years there have been several movies starring creatures with scaled surfaces. Among these are Jurassic Park, Dragonheart, and Lake Placid. The surfaces of these creatures have generally been constructed by layering painted textures atop displacement maps. This gives the model texture, but the scales stretch and shrink under the movement of the creature, giving a rubbery look that is not realistic."[6]

In order to overcome this limitation, the then-groundbreaking work done by digital effects animator Neil Eskuri on Disney's 2000 release Dinosaur was utilized as a benchmark in order to create a realistic physical simulation of the dragon. According to Carlos Gonzalez-Ochoa, the film called for "100-foot (30 m) creatures with wing spans of 300 feet (91 m) that could undergo enormous speeds and accelerations. The artistic direction required each dragon to have wings that transition between a variety of physical behaviors and interact with the environment."[7]


Reign of Fire: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score (Digital download / Audio CD) by
  • 23 July 2002 (2002-07-23)
LabelVarèse Sarabande
Reign of Fire: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
2."Enter the Dragon"3:20
3."An Early Harvest"2:42
4."Field Attack"4:11
6."Meet Van Zan"3:49
8."Dawn Burial"3:02
9."A Battle of Wills"5:31
10."The Ruins at Pembury"2:11
12."Return to London"4:11
13."Magic Hour"5:23
Total length:50:30


On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 40% based on 164 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Reign of Fire gains some altitude with its pyrotechnic action and a smolderingly campy Matthew McConaughey, but the feature's wings are clipped by a derivative script and visual effects that fizzle out."[8] On Metacritic it has score of 39 out of 100, based on 30 reviews from critics.[9] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B on scale of A to F.[10]

Joe Leydon of Variety said of the film, "An uncommonly exciting and satisfying post-apocalyptic popcorn flick, Director Rob Bowman deftly combines an uncommonly satisfying mix of medieval fantasy, high-tech military action and "Mad Max"-style misadventure."[11]Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly agreed, saying "the season could do with more grinning, spinning, un-self-important, happy-to-be-B throwback movies like this one."[12]Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times noted that "the movie might have been a minor classic if it had maximized its own possibilities. But until the rush wears off, the picture is as much fun as a great run at a slot machine: even when your luck runs out, you're losing only pocket change."[13]

Roger Ebert lamented the film as "a vast enterprise marshaled in the service of such a minute idea", adding that "the movie makes no sense on its own terms, let alone ours. And it is such a grim and dreary enterprise. One prays for a flower or a ray of sunshine as those grotty warriors clamber into their cellars and over their slag heaps."[14]

Reign of Fire was third at the US box-office receipts during its opening weekend (12 July 2002), taking in $15,632,281, behind Road to Perdition and Men in Black II.[15]


Reign of Fire was nominated for one Saturn Award, but lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and two Festival de Cine de Sitges awards, winning one.[16][17]

Award Category Result
Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Nominated
Festival de Cine de Sitges Best Visual Effects Won[17]
Best Film Nominated

Video game

In 2002, Kuju Entertainment released the video game adaptation Reign of Fire for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube, which received mixed reviews.[18]

Possible sequel

In a 2002 interview, Christian Bale was asked: "Is there a sequel possibility to Reign of Fire?" to which Bale responded "Possibly. I told Scott Moutter, who plays my stepson in the movie, that he's well positioned to take the sequel from me because of the way the movie ends!".[19]


  1. ^ "REIGN OF FIRE | British Board of Film Classification". Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b Reign of fire at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Reign of Fire (2002)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Wehner, Christopher. "Reign of Fire". Screenwriter's Utopia. Screenwriter's Utopia. Retrieved 2020.
  5. ^ "Reign of Fire Screenplay PDF" (PDF). Script Slug. Script Slug. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ Petti, Ernest J; Thompson, Thomas V, II; Lusinsky, Adolph; Driskill, Hank (2002). "Dragon Scales: The Evolution of Scale Tool for Reign of Fire". ACM SIGGRAPH 2002 Conference Abstracts and Applications. ACM: 172. doi:10.1145/1242073.1242185.
  7. ^ Gonzalez-Ochoa, Carlos; Eberle, David; Dressel, Rob (2002). "Dynamic Simulation of Wing Motion on Reign of Fire". ACM SIGGRAPH 2002 Conference Abstracts and Applications. ACM: 174. doi:10.1145/1242073.1242187. ISBN 978-1-58113-525-1.
  8. ^ "Reign of Fire". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2020.
  9. ^ "Reign of Fire". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020.
  10. ^ "REIGN OF FIRE (2002) B". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  11. ^ Leydon, Joe (12 July 2002). "Reign of Fire". Variety. Archived from the original on 28 September 2017.3/4 stars
  12. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (10 July 2002). "Reign of Fire". Entertainment Weekly.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (July 12, 2002). "FILM REVIEW; Fire-Breathing Dragons Make It Hot for Humans". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 September 2017. Retrieved 2017.4/5 stars
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 12, 2002). "Reign Of Fire Movie Review & Film Summary (2002)". Chicago Sun-Times.1/4 stars
  15. ^ Brandon Gray (July 15, 2002). "Blessed Business for 'Perdition' as 'Men in Black II' Hangs Onto Top Spot". Box Office Mojo.
  16. ^ Phillips, Jevon (7 March 2003). "'Towers,' 'Report' top Saturn nominees". Variety.
  17. ^ a b Sitges 2002 Awards
  18. ^ Tyler Winegarner (October 23, 2002). "Reign of Fire review". Gamespot. Retrieved 2020.
  19. ^ Clint Morris (2002). "Movies: Christian Bale Interview". Retrieved – via

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes