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 post-apocalyptic action 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 shortly after the dawn of the new millennium. During construction on the London Underground, workers penetrate an underground cave. A huge dragon emerges from hibernation, incinerating the workers with its flaming breath. The only survivor is a boy, Quinn Abercromby (Ben Thornton), whose mother Karen (Alice Krige) is the construction crew chief; Karen is crushed to death while protecting Quinn as the dragon climbs to the surface. It flies out of the Underground and more dragons appear, multiplying rapidly. Shown in newspaper clippings and a voiceover, scientists discover that dragons are a lost species responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs by incinerating them. The dragons are speculated to hibernate after destroying most of the Earth's creatures until the planet repopulates. After the dragons' awakening humanity resists militarily, including a 2010 use of nuclear weapons; this, however, 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 who are starving while their crops ripen. Although most trust him, some are restless and defiant. Eddie (David Kennedy) steals a truck to harvest tomatoes with his group, although picking them too soon will destroy next season's seeds. They are attacked by a dragon; one is killed, and the rest are surrounded by fire. Quinn, Creedy (Gerard Butler) and Jared (Scott Moutter) rescue them with old fire engines and firesuits, but as it escapes the dragon kills Eddie's son.

The Kentucky Irregulars, an American group led by Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey), arrives with a Chieftain tank and an Agusta A109 helicopter piloted by Alex Jensen (Izabella Scorupco). Van Zan and his soldiers have a system to hunt dragons, and he knows their weakness: poor vision before sunset. Initially distrustful, Quinn is surprised that dragons can be killed. Van Zan convinces him, and they kill the dragon who destroyed the crops.

The celebration is muted by Van Zan, who lost three men. He later tells Quinn that all the dragons they have found are female, with unfertilized eggs. The Americans believe there is only one male; if they kill it, reproduction will cease. Although Quinn knows about the male dragon (who killed his mother), he refuses to help since the male has destroyed all pursuers.

Van Zan orders his soldiers to enlist the castle's best men. After losing a fight with him, Quinn says that if Van Zan's group finds the male it will kill them and find the castle. Ignoring him, Van Zan's group leaves for London. In the ruins of a town 66 miles (106 km) from the city the dragon attacks, killing most of the soldiers before finding the castle and killing most of its residents. When Quinn tries to get the survivors to safety in a bunker, Creedy stops him and is killed when the dragon again attacks.

Van Zan and Jensen return to the castle and free those in the bunker. Quinn tells Van Zan he will help them hunt the male in London; its nest is near the construction site where his mother was killed. When they fly to London they find hundreds of dragons, the smaller ones cannibalized by the larger male. Van Zan, seeing Quinn flash back to his mother's death, tells him about his plan to shoot an explosive down the dragon's throat with a crossbow when it inhales. Van Zan fires, but the male destroys the arrow. He attacks the dragon with a large axe, and is eaten. Quinn and Alex lure the dragon to ground level and Quinn fires his explosive into the dragon's mouth, killing it.

While Quinn and Alex are later putting up a radio tower on a hill overlooking the North Sea, he says there have been no dragon sightings for over three months. Jared arrives, telling them they have contacted another group of survivors in France who want to speak to their leader. Quinn tells Jared he is now their leader, dedicating himself to rebuilding since he sees little chance that the dragons will return.



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
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:


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). 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%, based on 30 reviews from critics. Although ABC scheduled a broadcast of the film on July 7, 2005, the network replaced it with Big Fat Liar after the terrorist attack on London that day.[5]


Reign of Fire was nominated for one Saturn Award and two Festival de Cine de Sitges awards, winning one.[6]

Organization Award Result
2002 Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Nominated
2002 Festival de Cine de Sitges Best Visual Effects Won
Best Film Nominated

Video game[edit]

In 2002 Kuju Entertainment released a video-game version for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube, which received mediocre reviews.[7]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Reign of fire at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Reign of Fire (2002)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  4. ^ "Reign of Fire". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 
  5. ^ "London Bombings Prompt Schedule Shift at ABC". Zap2it. 7 July 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-01.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "Awards for Reign of Fire (2002)". IMDb. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  7. ^ "Reign of Fire review". Gamespot. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 

External links[edit]