The film was produced by Tim Burton, Bekmambetov, and Jim Lemley. Filming began in Louisiana in March 2011 and the film was released in 3D on June 20, 2012 in the United Kingdom and June 22, 2012 in the United States. The film received mixed reviews, which praised the action sequences and originality, but criticized its overly serious tone, overuse of CGI, and pacing.
In 1818, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) lives in Indiana with his parents, Nancy (Robin McLeavy) and Thomas (Joseph Mawle), who work at a plantation owned by Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). There, Lincoln rushes to the aid of his friend, a young African American boy, William Johnson (Anthony Mackie), being beaten by a slaver. Because of his son's actions, Thomas is fired. That night, Lincoln sees Barts break into his house and attack Nancy. She falls ill the following day, and dies shortly afterwards. Thomas tells Lincoln that Barts poisoned Nancy.
Nine years later in 1827, a vengeful Lincoln tries to kill Barts at the docks, but Barts, who is actually a vampire, overpowers him. However, before Barts can kill him, Lincoln is rescued by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper). Sturges explains that vampires exist, and offers to teach Lincoln to be a vampire hunter. Lincoln accepts and, after a decade of training, travels to Springfield, Illinois. During his training, Sturges tells Lincoln that the vampires in America descend from Adam (Rufus Sewell), a vampire who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson). Sturges also tells Lincoln of the vampires' weakness, silver, and presents him with a silver pocket watch.
In Springfield, Lincoln befriends shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson), and meets Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Though Sturges warned him not to form any close relationships, Lincoln develops romantic feelings for Mary.
Lincoln successfully finds and defeats Barts. Before dying, Barts reveals that Sturges is also a vampire. Lincoln confronts Sturges, who reveals that, several years ago, he was attacked and bitten by Adam. Because Sturges' soul was impure, he became a vampire, and that prevented him from harming Adam or any other vampire (since "Only the living can kill the dead"). Sturges has since been training vampire hunters, hoping to destroy Adam.
Disappointed, Lincoln decides to abandon his mission. However, Adam learns of his activities and kidnaps Johnson to lure Lincoln into a trap at his plantation. Adam captures Lincoln and tries to recruit him, revealing his plans to turn the United States into a nation of the undead. Speed rescues his friends, and they escape to Ohio.
Lincoln marries Mary and begins his political career, campaigning to abolish slavery. It is at this time in the movie Lincoln symbolically puts on the top hat which he dons the rest of the movie. Sturges warns Lincoln that the slave trade keeps vampires under control, as vampires use slaves for food, and if Lincoln interferes, the vampires will retaliate. After Lincoln's election as President of the United States of America, he moves to the White House with Mary, where they have a son, William Wallace Lincoln (Cameron M. Brown). William is later bitten by Vadoma and dies.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis (John Rothman) convinces Adam to deploy his vampires on the front lines. Lincoln orders the confiscation of all the silverware in the area and has it melted to produce silver weapons. Speed, believing that Lincoln is tearing the nation apart, defects and informs Adam that Lincoln will transport the silver by train.
On the train, Adam and Vadoma, who have set fire to the upcoming trestle, attack Lincoln, Sturges, and Johnson. During the fight, in which Speed is killed, Adam learns that the train holds only rocks. Lincoln reveals that Speed's betrayal was a ruse to lure Adam into a trap. Lincoln uses his watch to stab Adam, killing him, and the three escape the train before it explodes. Meanwhile, Mary and the ex-slaves have transported the silver to Gettysburg through the Underground Railroad.
The now leaderless Confederate vampires stage a final, massive assault and are met head on by the Union. Armed with their silver weapons, the Union soldiers destroy the vampires and eventually win the battle. During that battle, Mary confronts Vadoma, the vampire that killed her son, and kills her.
Nearly two years later, on April 14, 1865, Sturges tells Lincoln that the remaining vampires have fled the country. Sturges tries to convince Lincoln to allow him to turn Lincoln into a vampire, so that he can become immortal and continue to fight vampires, but Lincoln declines.
In modern times, Sturges approaches a man at a bar in Washington, D.C. as he once approached Lincoln.
The film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was first announced in March 2010 when Tim Burton and Bekmambetov paired to purchase film rights and to finance its development themselves. The book's author, Seth Grahame-Smith, was hired to write the script. Fox beat other studios in a bidding war for rights to the film the following October.
In January 2011, with Bekmambetov attached as director, Walker was cast as Abraham Lincoln. He beat Adrien Brody, Josh Lucas, James D'Arcy, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen for the role. Additional actors were cast in the following February. Filming began in March 2011 in Louisiana. The film had a budget of $99.5 million and was produced in 3D.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was originally scheduled to be released in 2D and 3D on October 28, 2011, but was later pushed back to June 22, 2012. The movie premiered in New York City on June 18. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter also made an unconventional debut with a screening for troops deployed in the Middle East. The movie was screened to over 1800 sailors aboard the Navy aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, which is now receiving a complete overhaul in Newport News, Virginia. Several of the film's stars attended the screening, including Anthony Mackie, Erin Wasson and Benjamin Walker, who dressed in character as Abraham Lincoln. The screening marks the first time that a major motion picture made its debut for United States servicemen and women.
The film received generally mixed reviews. As of November 9, 2014, Rotten Tomatoes reports a "rotten" approval score of 35%, based on 181 reviews, with an average score of 4.9/10. The consensus reads that the film "has visual style to spare, but its overly serious tone doesn't jibe with its decidedly silly central premise, leaving filmgoers with an unfulfilling blend of clashing ingredients." Emanuel Levy of EmanuelLevy.com wrote that "Though original, this is a strenuous effort to combine the conventions of two genres." The movie also garnered a "mixed or average" score of 42 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 35 reviews.
Richard Corliss of Time magazine elaborates, saying that "The historical epic and the monster movie run on parallel tracks, occasionally colliding but never forming a coherent whole." Christy Lemire of Associated Press meanwhile, comments on the film's tenor and visual effects, saying "What ideally might have been playful and knowing is instead uptight and dreary, with a visual scheme that's so fake and cartoony, it depletes the film of any sense of danger," awarding the film a rating of 1.5 out of 4. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal agrees, saying, "Someone forgot to tell the filmmakers ... that the movie was supposed to be fun. Or at least smart."
Joe Neumaler of New York Daily News gives the film a rating of 1 out of 5, writing, "This insipid mashup of history lesson and monster flick takes itself semi-seriously, which is truly deadly." The title is praised by Manohla Dargis of The New York Times, who adds, "it's too bad someone had to spoil things by making a movie to go with it." The title is further commented on by Barbara VanDenburgh from the Arizona Republic, who says, "The problem with movies based on a single joke is that a single joke is rarely funny enough to sustain the running time of a feature-length film".
Tony Kushner, the script writer of the actual Abraham Lincoln biopic released that same year, has stated that he thought the film was a "godforsaken mess", although this opinion had nothing to do with a historical perspective.
Positive response meanwhile, came from Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has heart to spare, and the occasional silvered bayonet to run it through." USA Today reviewer Scott Bowles remarks, "A stylish slasher of a movie, a monster flick that does its vampires right, if not their real-life counterparts," giving the film 2.5 out of 4. Further acclaim came from Joe Williams of St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who calls it, "The best action movie of the summer," and praising the film for presenting "a surprisingly respectful tone toward American values and their most heroic proponent", calling "the battlefield scenes [...] suitably epic" and finally commending leading star Benjamin Walker, "a towering actor who looks like a young Liam Neeson and never stoops to caricature."
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter grossed $37,519,139 at the domestic box office and $78,952,441 in International Markets. It received a worldwide total of $116,471,580.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States and Canada on October 23, 2012.
The soundtrack to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as composed by Henry Jackman was released digitally on June 12, 2012 and set to be released physically on July 3, 2012. In addition, Linkin Park's song "Powerless", from their 2012 album Living Things premiered in the official trailer to Abraham Lincoln and was the first song to be played over the closing credits, followed by "The Rampant Hunter". However, the song was not featured in the soundtrack, but still the song was released as a single under the name of soundtrack in Japan.