The Dracula 2000 episode of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie? was Written by Emilie Black, Narrated by Adam Walton, Edited by Victoria Verduzco, Produced by Andrew Hatfield and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.
Horror in the year 2000 was something. Yeah, that’s it, it was something. A lot of it happened, some of it was great, some of it was good, and some of it, not so much. Actually, if the internet crowd is to be believed, the early 2000s, especially the year 2000 were abysmal for horror. We did get a few memorable films released in 2000 like the first Final Destination film, Cherry Falls, Ginger Snaps, The Cell, and American Psycho. However, the scales had some serious bad on the other side to balance it all out. Films like Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Hellraiser: Inferno, Christina’s House, and Dracula 2000 (watch it HERE) came and made horror fans regret their choice of going to see them or renting them. The Gerard Butler starrer Dracula 2000 is where we will be digging today.
Dracula 2000 was released on December 22nd, 2000, in North America where it was a pretty typical thing to have a horror movie released right around the Holidays every year. Kind of a counter-programming thing to all the family friendly, holiday themed movies coming out in theaters, direct to video, and on television. Every year, horror fans waited for these, happily making them part of their traditional holiday outings. Dracula 2000 was released in theaters that December to a resounding “thud” from critics. As of this writing, the film has a fabulously high 17% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and 39&% from audiences. Of course, some of these ratings have adjusted with more recent reviews and ratings, but overall, that 17% is pretty representative of how it was received back in 2000.
The films story was a modernization of the classic Dracula novel but moving it to the year 2000 and to New Orleans. There’s definitely some of the classic Dracula in there, mostly some of the character names, who they represent, and Dracula himself, but it’s a more generic than anything else sort of adaptation. The use of New Orleans screams of wanting to connect to the Anne Rice world of vampires without going to her work and its cost to adapt. Dracula here is brought to the US by way of an antiques dealer and a few thieves. Once in New Orleans, he magically finds both Lucy and Mina, or as she’s renamed here Mary as the film also mixes Christianity themes throughout with Mary who works at Virgin record store and the use of a Christ on the Cross in a few scenes. There’s a lot here and the film does seem to know what to do with, well, some of it. Did we say that Mary is a Van Helsing? Oh yeah, she’s a Van Helsing and a representation of the Virgin Mary. There’s a lot of imagery, a lot of metaphors, and if you think you might miss it, the film hits you in the head with it.
So, who’s responsible for this mess of a script? Well, if IMDB is to be believed, the film is credited to writers Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier with a helping hand from Bram Stoker, of course, as his characters are the basis for the whole thing. A bit more digging brings up a few more names including Scott Derrickson who was brought in as a script doctor but whose script was tossed in favor of another rewrite by Ehren Kruger. If all those names are familiar, it’s because they should be. Joel Soisson has written a whole lot of sequels in his career including The Prophecy 3: The Ascent, Highlander: Endgame, Mimic 2, Children of the Corn: Genesis, Piranha 3DD, and a few more. He also has a few non-sequel horror movies and random films on his resume. Patrick Lussier, for his part, is a name that now brings a bit more confidence to audiences, but he’s mostly known as an editor and a director. As he also directed Dracula 2000, it makes sense to take a look at his directing credits. Dracula 2000 was only his second feature film with The Prophecy 3: The Ascent as his first. Following Dracula 2000, he directed both sequels to the film, then White Noise 2: The Light, My Bloody Valentine remake, Drive Angry, Trick, and more. So, it would be appropriate to assume that this would be a fun film as he has been involved with some fun films since then. His work is a bit uneven, but there is some good in there, so his name is not a death sentence for a film. The fact that the film has seemingly multiple rewrites leads one to believe that perhaps there were too many cooks in the kitchen here. And that kitchen was run by Harvey Weinstein, yes him, who just wanted the film because of its title. The previously named writers involved here were Scott Derrickson whose version was scrapped, but who knows if any of it was kept. His work included back then a short film called Love in the Ruins and two features: Urban Legends: Final Cut and Hellraiser: Inferno, so um, not exactly the best of the best. However, the man has since written The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, Doctor Strange, and The Black Phone among others, so clearly there’s talent there. Ehren Kruger had Arlington Road and Scream 3, among others, behind him at this time, so he had some good credits too. Since then, he’s written the US Ring films, The Skeleton Key, The Brothers Grimm, Blood and Chocolate, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon, and Age of Extinction, the more recent Dumbo film, and Top Gun: Maverick. He’s been all over the place with some good, some great, and some really bad. So finding this on his resume as a credited writer doesn’t exactly surprise anyone.
Now, for a name that is hard to avoid and had pretty much nothing to do with the film beyond approving of it: Wes Craven! Yes, this was a Wes Craven Presents. Mind Ripper, Wishmaster, and Don’t Look Down all came before before Dracula 2000 and They as well as the Dracula 2000 sequels have appeared since then. While some of these were greatly enjoyable, the quality here is uneven, a bit like with the Fangoria Presents film line around the same time. It was a popular thing to have a bigger name present a film on the poster, in the marketing, and all over the place even if this name had nothing to do with a film. It seems to be less done these days, but it was big in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Now, let’s take a look at the cast which is composed of uh, what, why, who, and how??? Yeah, the cast back then was interesting, now looking back it’s even more interesting and in a whole new way. Let’s start with our titular dude, the bloodsucker at the head of this whole mess: Gerard Butler. For Butler, this is credited as his first US major role and it’s well, not his best. Since then, he’s told the story of Star Wars, and fought dragons, in Reign of Fire, got lost in time in Timeline, both of which many seem to have forgotten, then he sang his heart out in an adaptation of the Phantom of the Opera that was, well, something. He then followed all of that with a bunch of romantic comedies and action films. The man has a varied resume and has something for everyone. His Dracula was perhaps not quite it though. Granted, some loved it, but looking back, it was merely a steppingstone to a better bunch of films. Playing Mary Van Helsing is Justine Waddell who had done mostly television before this and has been in 7 films and one television show since then, disappearing from screens in 2011. Playing her best friend Lucy is singer Vitamin C, the how/why of the bunch but also someone most people won’t recognize unless they were in high school and graduated right around the time her song “Graduation (Friends Forever)” came out. Her presence was head-scratching at best while her acting was surprisingly not the worst of the bunch. Then we get the thieves played by Jonny Lee Miller who needs no introduction at this point, Jennifer Esposito, Omar Epps, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Danny Masterson, a group of very on point cast members for 2000, most of them still quite busy acting on television and in films. The one that cannot be forgotten here is Christopher Plummer who was possibly the biggest “how in the world did they get him to agree to this?” of the whole film. He did get the Abraham Van Helsing part, so there is that, but still, no amount of Mr. Plummer’s good work could save this movie and he only gets a few scenes, so he’s gone in a flash.
Also, back then, having Harvey Weinstein as a producer who had ideas and seemed hands on for this one was not considered a bad thing, however, his reputation now is not good. His name attached most definitely does not help the film gain some new audiences through the last few years like some other early 2000s films have.
All of that pedigree, good or bad, seemed to not influence the film all that much. Yes, there are some good ideas here and there, some of the performances are more than decent, but overall, the film is terrible. Its the kind of film that is best suited for a bad movie night, maybe even one with proper 2000s themed food and drinks, and a few other films from that year. It’s not a great film and well, it showed in the numbers.
The film cost, according to some online sources, $54 million while other sources have it at $28 million. As the film is considered a flop and the budget once including all marketing was most likely on the side of $54 million, that first figure and the most reported one makes more sense. The film was considered a flop at the time and still is. Its worldwide box office totaled $47.1 million, a bit under the budget at $54 million. Yet, the film still got 2 sequels, Dracula II: Ascension in 2003 and Dracula III: Legacy in 2005. Both of those could be a whole other video, but the interest in them is limited at best at this point. As for Dracula 2000, a few things likely influenced its box office such as its release date, its trailer, and how badly it was reviewed. Also, the competition the weekend it was released, and the following weeks should be taken into consideration. On December 22nd, 2000, the competition was interesting, it had a bit of everything from Oscar-bait films to romantic comedies to horror to cartoons. It was an interesting week to go see a movie or two that’s for sure. The top ten films were Cast Away, What Woman Want, The Family Man, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Miss Congeniality, The Emperor’s New Groove, Dracula 2000, Vertical Limit, Dude, Where’s My Car, and Crouching Tiger. Hidden Dragon, which let’s be honest, was a particularly strong top ten. The fact that Dracula 2000 came in at number seven is pretty good considering it was coming out against Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Nic Cage, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bullock, and Michelle Yeoh. That top 10 would probably almost all be still in the top ten if these films were released for the first time this year, so it was not a bad group to be with. On week 2 of release, Dracula 2000 fell to number 8, maintained it the next week, and then fell to number 16 on its 4th week of release, basically falling away completely after that. The film was not seemingly a huge flop at the box office, but it was not quite enough to recoup its cost.
Dracula 2000 is a very 2000 film indeed, with the fashion, the music, the cast, and look the year 2000. There is something charming about it these days even though it’s not exactly a good film and it has some fun elements like seeing a very young Gerard Butler and Jonny Lee Miller in action. The film is not a complete loss, but it’s far from a classic.
A couple of the previous episodes of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie? can be seen below. To see more, head over to our JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/dracula-2000-wtf/