Eragon is a 2006 live-action/CGI fantasy-adventure film based on the novel of the same name by author Christopher Paolini. The cast includes Edward Speleers in the title role, Jeremy Irons, Garrett Hedlund, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, John Malkovich, Djimon Hounsou, Joss Stone, and the voice of Rachel Weisz as Saphira the dragon.
The film was directed by Stefen Fangmeier, a first-time director, who had previously worked as a visual effects director on Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The screenplay was written by Peter Buchman, who is best known for Jurassic Park III. Principal photography took place at the Mafilm Fót Studios in Hungary, starting on August 1, 2005. Special 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, and the 31st highest grossing film of 2006 in the US. A DVD and Blu-ray of the film was released March 20, 2007.
Eragon is a teenage farm boy who lives in a small village named Carvahall in the fictional and magical world of Alagaësia that contains dragons and other such creatures. While hunting, he finds a dragon egg that is the size of a small cat. From the egg hatches a blue dragon named Saphira. Eragon decides to keep Saphira a secret, but a pair of magical creatures are sent by the King of Alagaesia, Galbatorix, to find Eragon and the dragon. He flees home to find his uncle dead and so sets out on a journey to avenge his Uncle. Accompanied by a wise storyteller named Brom, Eragon and Saphira take up the legacy of legendary Dragon Riders. He learns magic, swordfighting, and dragon-riding to fulfill the legend of the dragon riders and his destiny.
It was Buchman's script that drew the attention of Stefen Fangmeier. "I found it to be an exciting read," said the director. "With the book’s fantastical aspects, people would look at me in terms of the visual effects requirements. However, my first reaction to the material was that it was a great story that had an emotional arc."
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 despite the fact that Dungeons and 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:
The score for the movie 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 theme song for the film, entitled "Keep Holding On," which was featured in the credits and on the soundtrack. The track was released as a single (and later as track 12 on The Best Damn Thing) and reached 17 on Billboard Hot 100 singles charts in America.
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 Edward Speleers.
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 less 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 3/20/2007-5/13/2007 .