Principal photography took place at the Mafilm Fót Studios in Hungary, starting on August 1, 2005. Visual effects and animation were by Weta Digital and Industrial Light & Magic. Eragon was released worldwide between December 13 and December 15, 2006 by 20th Century Fox. It was the 10th worst reviewed film of 2006 on Rotten Tomatoes, but the 31st highest-grossing film of 2006 in the US. The film was released for home entertainment on March 20, 2007. It is notable for being the last film to be released on VHS in the United States.
Arya, elf princess of Ellesméra, flees with a strange stone, pursued by Durza, a dark sorcerer under king Galbatorix. When Durza corners Arya, she uses magic to send the stone away.
Eragon, a farm boy living in the country of Alagaësia with his uncle, is hunting for food when he comes across the stone. Hoping to trade it for food, Eragon brings the stone home, and finds a blue dragon hatching from it. As he touches the dragon, a magical mark is burned into his palm. A few people are shown reacting to this incident, including Arya, an old man named Brom, and Galbatorix himself.
Eragon shelters and feeds the dragon, which learns to fly and magically grows to full size. She calls herself Saphira. When they are out, Durza's monstrous minions, the Ra'zac, arrive at the village to look for the dragon, killing Eragon's uncle in the process. Blaming Saphira for his uncle's death, Eragon sends her away. Brom shows up, warns Eragon of Saphira's importance, and urges him to call her back. The three then leave town.
Brom leads the group to the Varden, rebel freedom fighters opposing Galbatorix. On the way, Brom fills Eragon in on the knowledge of dragon riders, Galbatorix, Durza and the Ra'zac. He also trains Eragon sword-fighting. In a small village, they meet where a fortune-teller named Angela, who tells Eragon of a woman awaiting his help, and of his dangerous path ahead. When Brom and Eragon are attacked by Galbatorix's servants, the Urgals, Eragon attempts to mimic Brom and wipes out the whole group with a magic attack, then falls unconscious from the strain. Brom teaches Eragon to control his magic and bond his powers with Saphira.
Durza sets a trap for Eragon, using Arya as bait. Hearing her telepathic calls, Eragon finds her, but is ambushed by Durza. Eragon is outmatched, and Brom arrives to help him, getting mortally wounded in the process. Eragon shoots an arrow into Durza's head, causing him to disappear. The trio escapes, and Brom dies of his wounds while flying on Saphira.
Eragon confronts a hooded figure that has been following them. He reveals himself to be Murtagh and guides them to the Varden. Soon after, Durza and his men surround the rebel camp. Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and the Varden prepare for battle. Arya, Murtagh and the Varden fight Galbatorix's forces as Eragon and Saphira duel in the skies with Durza who rides his own beast. Eragon and Saphira kill Durza, but Saphira is heavily injured. Eragon uses magic to heal her and once again passes out from the strain.
The following morning, Eragon awakes with Murtagh at his side and finds Saphira fully healed. They catch up with Arya, who is on her way to Ellesméra to lead the elves in the coming war. She calls Eragon "Shadeslayer" and they part ways. Meanwhile, in his castle, a furious Galbatorix slashes at his hanging map of Alagaesia, revealing his immense pitch black dragon, Shruikan.
Plans to create a film based on Christopher Paolini's best-selling novel were first announced in February 2004. 20th Century Fox purchased the rights to Eragon. Screenwriter Peter Buchman, whose credits included Jurassic Park III, wrote the screenplay. Buchman, a fan of fantasy and science fiction literature and films, says he was "blown away" by the author's precociousness, his mastery of plot lines and characters, and his ability to create several completely imaginary worlds.
Speleers was selected for the title role after a worldwide casting search. "Ed came in [to the casting session], and we just looked at each other and said, "That's Eragon, that's the guy from the book," said director Stefen Fangmeier: "I got a strong sense of Ed's sparkle, of his life. It's the kind of thing where you just know he's destined to become a movie star. Speleers won the role as he was trying to learn his lines for a school production of Hamlet. Others considered for the role included Alex Pettyfer but since production took place in central Europe and Pettyfer is afraid of flying, he declined the role.
On July 15, 2005, in an official press release from 20th Century Fox, it was confirmed that Speleers had signed on to the project. Over the following months, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Chris Egan, and Djimon Hounsou were all confirmed as joining the Eragon cast. Paolini, author of the original novel, had expressed his wishes to be featured in a cameo role in the film — specifically, as a warrior who is beheaded in the battle of Farthen Dûr. However, he was unable because of his European book tour.
Jeremy Irons, who welcomed the opportunity to reintroduce himself to younger audiences, took on the role although Dungeons & Dragons (a previous fantasy film he had acted in) had flopped, and he said that he thought that Eragon "had been better managed" than that film.
In August 2005, Fox began filming Eragon at various locations throughout Hungary and Slovakia, including:Pilisborosjenő, Budapest Metropolitan Area, Hungary
High Tatras, Slovakia
Filming ended a month later in September, beginning the film's post-production stage, with Industrial Light and Magic creating the film's CGI.
The decision was made later on in production to add feathers to the standard bat-like wings of the dragon Saphira. The studio had been inspired by the Angel's wings in X-Men: The Last Stand. Jean Bolte, lead viewpaint artist for ILM on the film, calls them "skethers" (half-feathers, half-scales) and was inspired by the scales of the pangolin. It was eventually decided that Saphira's colors scheme should be subdued rather than vibrant in order to be more realistic.
The score for the film was composed by Patrick Doyle who also did the score of 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Avril Lavigne also recorded the film's theme song, entitled "Keep Holding On", which was featured in the credits and on the soundtrack. The track was released as a single in 2006 (and later as a track on her 2007 album The Best Damn Thing) and reached 17 on Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in America.Track listing
- "Roran Leaves"
- "Saphira's First Flight"
- "Burning Farm"
- "Fortune Teller"
- "If You Were Flying"
- "Brom's Story"
- "Passing the Flame"
- "Battle for Varden"
- "Saphira Returns"
- "Legend of Eragon"
- "Keep Holding On" – Avril Lavigne
- "Once in Every Lifetime" – Jem
The video game based on the motion picture was developed by Stormfront Studios and Amaze Entertainment and was released in November 2006.
Eragon was released on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray in the US on March 20, 2007. It debuted at number 1 on the national DVD sales charts and at number 3 on the DVD rental charts. It grossed more than US$35.2 million in rentals. It was released on DVD in Europe on April 16, 2007 and in Australia on April 18, 2007. It is the final film released on VHS in the US.
Eragon was one of the worst reviewed films of 2006; 16% of reviews by critics were positive with an average rating of 4.1/10 at Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus reads "Written by a teenager (and it shows), Eragon presents nothing new to the "hero's journey" story archetype. In movie terms, this movie looks and sounds like Lord of the Rings and plays out like a bad Star Wars rip-off...the makers of Eragon should soon be expecting an annoyed phone call from George Lucas." The Seattle Times described the film as "technically accomplished, but fairly lifeless and at times a bit silly". The Hollywood Reporter said the world of Eragon was "without much texture or depth." The story was labeled "derivative" by The Washington Post, and "generic" by the Las Vegas Weekly. Newsday stressed this point further, asserting that only "nine-year-olds with no knowledge whatsoever of any of the six Star Wars movies would find the film original."
The acting was called "lame" by the Washington Post, plus "stilted" and "lifeless" by the Orlando Weekly. The dialogue was also criticized, with MSNBC labelling it "silly"; the Las Vegas Weekly called it "wooden". Positive reviews described the film as "fun" and "the stuff boys' fantasies are made of." The CGI work was called "imaginative" and Saphira was called a "magnificent creation." Christopher Paolini stated he enjoyed the film, particularly praising the performances of Jeremy Irons and Ed Speleers.
Eragon grossed approximately $75 million in the US and $173.9 million elsewhere, grossing $249 million worldwide. Director Stefen Fangmeier believes that Fox was "modestly happy with the worldwide box office." Eragon is the 13th highest grossing fantasy-live action film within the United States; 21st when adjusted for inflation. It is the third highest-grossing film with a dragon at its focal point. Adjusted for inflation it falls to eighth place behind such films as Willow, Dragonheart, The Dark Crystal and Conan the Barbarian.
Eragon was in release for 17 weeks in the US, opening on December 15, 2006 and closing on April 8, 2007. It opened in 3020 theaters, earning $8.7 million on opening day and $23.2 million across opening weekend, ranked 2nd behind The Pursuit of Happyness. Eragon's second weekend US box office dropped by almost 70%, possibly due to the opening of Night at the Museum, another family film from 20th Century Fox, the 41st biggest second weekend drop since this statistic was kept. Eragon's $75 million total US gross was the 31st highest for 2006.
The film earned $150 million in its opening weekend across 76 overseas markets, making it the #1 film worldwide. This was attributed to the sheer scope of Eragon's global launch as the film ranked number 1 in fewer than half of the overseas territories it was released in. The foreign box office competition for the film's opening week was "soft;" had Eragon been released one year earlier, it would have been placed fourth. Eragon's UK opening was "a disappointment," in Australia it was "solid if unimpressive," but its most impressive market was France, where the film earned more than $21 million. The film's $249 million total worldwide gross was the 16th highest for 2006. Eragon grossed $86,995,160 on DVD from March 20, 2007 – May 13, 2007.Saturn Awards (2007)
Nominated: Best Fantasy Film
Nominated: Best Performance by a Younger Actor - Edward Speleers
CDG Award (Costume Designers Guild) (2007)
Nominated: Excellence in Costume Design for Film (Fantasy) - Kym Barrett