- Dracula’s last box-office hit was in 2018 with Hotel Transylvania 3, showing a tough reality for the character in recent years.
- The success of the family-friendly Hotel Transylvania franchise reveals that less scary versions of Dracula can be huge successes.
- Recent live-action adaptations of Dracula, like Renfield and The Last Voyage of the Demeter, have been box-office flops, suggesting that modernizing Dracula is a challenging task.
Although Dracula is one of the most popular classic monsters in horror, he hasn’t had the best of luck on the big screen, and his last box-office hit happened five years ago. Vampires are some of the most beloved and popular creatures in literature and other media, and the most famous vampire is Dracula. Created by Bram Stoker, Dracula is believed to have been inspired by 15th-century Wallachian prince Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad Dracula. Dracula debuted in Stoker’s novel of the same name, and he has since been adapted to all types of media.
Dracula has starred in different film adaptations of Stoker’s novel as well as variations of it, which have completely changed his backstory and even given him different supernatural abilities. Dracula has also been adapted into more family-friendly versions, allowing younger viewers to meet the most famous vampire of all, and surprisingly, these less scary versions have been a huge success. Although there have been various successful Dracula adaptations, many haven’t been well-received, and in recent years, the Count has only had one box-office success, revealing a tough reality for the character.
Dracula’s Last Box Office Hit Was 2018’s Hotel Transylvania 3
In 2012, Sony Pictures Animation brought a kid-friendly version of Dracula and other classic monsters in the animated comedy movie Hotel Transylvania, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. In it, Dracula (voiced by Adam Samberg) is the owner of Hotel Transylvania, a safe haven and getaway for monsters from all around the world. Hotel Transylvania is also home to Dracula and his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), who was raised there and had never traveled to the human world. Dracula and Mavis’ world is turned upside down when Johnny (Andy Samberg), a human, arrives at the hotel and he and Mavis fall in love.
Hotel Transylvania was a hit with viewers and became a box-office success, making way for a franchise with three sequels. Subsequent Hotel Transylvania movies followed Mavis and Johnny’s wedding and the arrival of their son, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), a vampire/human hybrid, Drac falling in love again, and Drac passing on the hotel to Mavis and Johnny. The last Hotel Transylvania movie released in theaters was Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, in 2018, and though it received mixed reviews from critics, it became a huge box-office success.
Hotel Transylvania 3 made over $528 million at the box office against a budget of $80 million (via Box Office Mojo), making it the highest-grossing movie in the series. This also makes Hotel Transylvania 3 the biggest box office hit starring Dracula in recent years, as subsequent adaptations haven’t been well-received. The Invitation (2022) had its version of Dracula in Thomas Doherty’s character De Ville, but he wasn’t the main character. The Invitation was a critical failure but a commercial hit, grossing $38 million on a $10 million budget. 2023 saw two movies with Dracula in bigger roles: Renfield and The Last Voyage of the Demeter.
Renfield focused on Dracula’s servant of the same name, with Nicolas Cage playing Count Dracula. Renfield got mixed to positive reviews, but it was a huge box office flop. André Øvredal’s The Last Voyage of the Demeter looked promising as it explores one chapter from Stoker’s novel, but it got mixed reviews and was also a big box office bomb, grossing $21.7 million against a budget of $45 million.
Hotel Transylvania’s Exception Reveals Huge Problem With Live-Action Dracula Movies
Hotel Transylvania 3 is Dracula’s most recent box office hit, but the Count’s last live-action success happened way earlier. In 2014, Dracula Untold was released, directed by Gary Shore. Dracula Untold created an origin story for the famous vampire and was more an action movie than a horror one. Although it received mixed reviews from critics, Dracula Untold was a box-office hit, grossing $217.1 million against a $70 million budget. Dracula Untold’s success could be attributed to the changes it made to Stoker’s story and how it turned Dracula into an action figure rather than a dark and scary one, something that more recent live-action Dracula versions haven’t done.
Although Renfield also gave a twist to Dracula, its comedy style wasn’t well-received, while The Last Voyage of the Demeter was labeled by critics as underwhelming and predictable, and its Dracula was a full-on monster. Modernizing Dracula is a tricky task, but so is bringing him out of the horror genre and into a different territory, and though Hotel Transylvania and Dracula Untold succeeded at it, not all adaptations have found the right formula to make Dracula interesting again.
The Next Major Dracula Movie Likely Won’t Save The Character’s Box Office Cold Streak
Next on the list of Dracula adaptations of Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu, the second remake of the 1922 German Expressionist film of the same name by Henrik Galeen, which in turn is an “unofficial” adaptation of Stoker’s novel. Nosferatu will tell the story of Ellen Hutter (Lily-Rose Depp), a haunted young woman in 19th-century Germany, and Count Orlok (Bill Skarsgård), an ancient Transylvanian vampire who has been stalking her. Although Eggers’ films have been praised for their visual and narrative quality, his craft doesn’t always translate well with commercial success, as seen with The Northman.
Eggers’ Nosferatu might be one of the greatest Dracula adaptations in recent years, but it might not be a box-office success. There might not be a formula to break Dracula’s box-office cold streak, as recent works have proven that the audience is welcoming of new versions of the character but they also like a more traditional approach, so its success has become unpredictable.
Source: Box Office Mojo.