Reign of Fire (film)

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Reign of Fire
A dragon flying over the British Houses of Parliament breathing fire on the city below.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rob Bowman
Produced by Richard D. Zanuck
Lili Fini Zanuck
Roger Birnbaum
Gary Barber
Dean Zanuck
Screenplay by Matt Greenberg
Gregg Chabot
Kevin Peterka
Story by Gregg Chabot
Kevin Peterka
Starring Matthew McConaughey
Christian Bale
Izabella Scorupco
Gerard Butler
Music by Ed Shearmur
Brad Wagner
Mad at Gravity
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Edited by Declan McGrath
Thom Noble
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
July 12, 2002
Running time
102 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[2]
Box office $82.15 million[2]

Reign of Fire is a 2002 British-Irish-American post-apocalyptic disaster 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 a post-apocalyptic England in the year 2020; twenty years after London tunneling project workers inadvertently reawake 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) respectively, 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 July 12, 2002. It has grossed $82 million on a $60 million budget.[3]


The film opens in the undated past. During construction on the London Underground, workers penetrate an underground cave. 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 construction crew chief—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. After the dragons reawaken, humanity resists with military force, including with nuclear weapons in 2010. This, however, only hastens the destruction, and within a few years, humans are nearly extinct.

In 2020, Quinn (Christian Bale) leads a community of survivors in a Northumberland castle. 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 with a Chieftain tank and 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 before sunset. He and Quinn kill the dragon who destroyed the crops.

Van Zan tells Quinn 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.

Van Zan orders his soldiers to enlist the castle's best men. Quinn argues that if they find the male, it will kill them and find the castle. Van Zan's group 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 its inhabitants. Quinn tries to get the survivors to a bunker; Creedy saves him and is killed by the dragon in his place.

Van Zan and Jensen return and free those in the bunker. Quinn tells Van Zan he will help them hunt the male dragon. They fly to London and find hundreds of dragons, with smaller ones cannibalized by the larger male. Van Zan tells Quinn about a plan to shoot explosives down the dragon's throat with a crossbow. Van Zan fires, but the dragon destroys the arrow and eats Van Zan. Quinn and Alex lure the dragon to ground level, where Quinn fires 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.



Reign of Fire was filmed in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains, on the condition that the crew clean up after themselves and not damage the landscape. Shot during an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe, many planned sequences could not be filmed due to restrictions. The dead dragon was designed and built by Artem, with visual effects by the Secret Lab.


Reign of Fire: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Reign of Fire Soundtrack Cover.jpg
Film score (Digital download / Audio CD) by Edward Shearmur
Released July 23, 2002
Length 50:30
Label Varèse Sarabande
Reign of Fire: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
No. Title Length
1. "Prologue"   3:22
2. "Enter the Dragon"   3:20
3. "An Early Harvest"   2:42
4. "Field Attack"   4:11
5. "Marauders"   2:47
6. "Meet Van Zan"   3:49
7. "Archangels"   3:58
8. "Dawn Burial"   3:02
9. "A Battle of Wills"   5:31
10. "The Ruins at Pembury"   2:11
11. "Inferno"   3:23
12. "Return to London"   4:11
13. "Magic Hour"   5:23
14. "Rebirth"   2:40
Total length:


Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 40% rating, based on 154 reviews, with a site consensus "an enjoyable B-movie if you don't use your brain".[4] Metacritic gave it a score of 39 out of 100, based on 30 reviews from critics.

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


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.[citation needed]

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

Video game[edit]

PAL region cover art.

In 2002 Kuju Entertainment released the video-game Reign of Fire for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube, which received mediocre reviews.[5]


During an interview, Clint Morris asked the film's co-star Christian Bale "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!"[6]


External links[edit]