Ben (Kurt Russell), a horse trainer who takes his work very seriously, neglects his precocious daughter while he pours his heart into the care of the horses that he trains.
Determined to make good on her father's overdue promise, Cale (Dakota Fanning) prods him to take her along to work and succeeds. One morning, a horse named Soñador falls during a race, injuring herself so badly that Ben's boss, Palmer, demands the horse be put down. Having Cale along, Ben instead strikes a bargain with Palmer and becomes the owner of the wounded horse. With no job and facing foreclosure on his property, he decides to breed Soñador.
Cale, having fallen in love at first sight with Soñador, begins to sneak out to the barn at night to see her. She also sneaks over to see her grandfather, 'Pop', Ben's dad (Kris Kristofferson), who loves teaching his granddaughter about horses.
They go to another farm to pick out a stallion to breed with Soñador, but the stud fee is too high. Ben's father gives Ben some money to use to breed, and Ben reluctantly takes it. But before they can breed, the vet tests Soñador and finds out she is unable to have a foal.
After, Cale hears her father tell her mother, Lilly (Elisabeth Shue), that Soñador has ruined them because she cannot have a foal. Lily responds that Soñador is the best thing that has ever happened to them, alluding to the fact that Ben is finally spending much-needed time with Cale. Frustrated, Ben says that if Cale wasn't there the day when Soñador was hurt, he would have let her be put down.
Hurt after hearing the conversation, Cale sets out to run away and saddles Soñador. Not knowing of Cale's plan, Ben enters the barn. The door slams behind him, and a startled Soñador bolts out of the barn with Cale hanging on for dear life. Ben scrambles to his truck and sets out after them.
This incident begins to cement the newly forming bond between father and daughter and heal the wounds of the whole family. They realize that Soñador was very fast, and decide to try racing her. Unfortunately after the race she is claimed, and Cale is angry at her father for selling her.
At a parent-teacher night, Ben reads a story that Cale wrote about a King and his horse, and realizes how much their family needs Soñador. He buys her back with money from his father. Cale decides to race Soñador in the Breeder's Cup Classic, with Manny, Ben's work colleague, as the jockey. They train together and eventually get into the race. At the race, Soñador is upset by Goliath's Boy, Palmer's horse, and Ben thinks this will hurt her chances in the race. But he looks and Soñador and realizes she is ready to race, and she goes on to win the Breeder's Cup Classic.Kurt Russell as Benjamin "Ben" Crane
Dakota Fanning as Cale Crane
Kris Kristofferson as Pop Crane
Elisabeth Shue as Lillian "Lilly" Crane
David Morse as Everett Palmer
Freddy Rodríguez as Manolin Vallarta
Luis Guzmán as Balon
Oded Fehr as Prince Sadir
Ken Howard as William "Bill" Ford
Holmes Osborne as Doc Fleming
The movie is loosely inspired by the story of the mare Mariah's Storm. She was a promising filly who was being pointed towards the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1993 but then broke her cannon bone (the incident is mentioned in the film by Sonador's veterinarian). She recovered and later won some graded stakes races. She started in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Distaff and finished ninth. She was owned by Thunderhead Farms and trained by Don Von Hemel. She is now known mostly for being the dam of Giant's Causeway. In the movie, when Cale and Ben go to Ashford Stud to check out the studs, the stallions they are naming, such as Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant's Causeway, Mariah's Storm, Johannesburg and Grand Slam, are real horses who actually stand at Ashford. However, the actual stallions were not used in filming. Stand-ins were placed in their stalls instead. In the scene where Sonya is considered for the Breeder's Cup, Prince Sadir says that his horse "Rapid Cat is sired by Storm Cat, the best sire in the world." Coincidentally, Mariah's Storm (on whom Sonya is based) was bred to Storm Cat.
While doing research in Kentucky, the director/writer came upon a vet who told him about a racehorse who miraculously made a comeback after a serious injury, and he loosely based the script on this story. Before being picked up by DreamWorks, the script was presented to Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros, but both declined. Director John Gatins was told that if he could get Dakota Fanning in the lead role his movie would get a green-light. He went to see Fanning's agent and finally got the young actress to sign on. The role of Cale Crane was originally written for a boy, and the role was changed specifically so that Dakota Fanning could play it. The first script that was sent to Fanning actually had the word "boy" in the character description.
To produce the soundtrack, an advance showing of this film was shown to a number of recording artists, who were then asked to submit ideas for theme songs. Bethany Dillon's song "Dreamer" was chosen out of all the submissions. After the movie, Kurt Russell bought Dakota Fanning a real Palomino horse, whom she named Goldie.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2005, released theatrically on October 21, 2005 by DreamWorks Pictures and was released on DVD on March 21, 2006 by Roadshow Entertainment.
Dreamer received mixed to positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 64%, based on 117 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Though formulaic, this horse story's saving grace is its strong performances." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 59 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a rare grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.
Dreamer opened in second place at the box office behind Doom, with $9,178,233 earned for a $4,573 average from 2,007 theaters. In its second weekend, it held well with a 33.2% drop to fourth place with $6,132,856 earned for a $2,462 average from being expanded to 2,491 theaters and lifting its two-week total to $17,374,339. It held up even better in its third weekend, only slipping 21.8% to sixth place and $4,794,741 for a $1,832 average from being expanded to 2,617 theaters. In its fourth weekend, it once again held well with a 22.2% slide to $3,728,510 and ninth place, for a $1,363 average from being expanded to its widest release, 2,735 theaters.
The film closed on January 5, 2006, after 77 days of release and grossing $32,751,093 domestically along with an additional $5,990,639 overseas for a worldwide total of $38,741,732. Produced on a $32 million budget, the film performed average at the box office, as it barely recouped its budget.Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2006
ESPY Awards 2006
Kids' Choice Awards, USA 2006
Young Artist Awards 2006
Theme From Dreamer
The Stand Off: 1st Ride
Ben Asks Pop For Help
Sonador In Harness
Testing Sonador's Leg
2nd Ride: Thunderpants
The Noble King
New Owner Montage
Smart And Beautiful
Cale Won't Sell Sonador
She's Ready To Run
She Wants To Race
End Credit Medley
Dreamer (Film Mix) – Bethany Dillon
Main Title (Film Version)
Dreamer [Hidden Bonus Track] (Pop Mix)