In the 1930’s, when Bela Lugosi made history in Universal’s first Dracula movie, teenagers were not a market segment. Dracula was based on a successful play and was a mainstream box office hit. Today’s proliferation of the usually awful PG-13 supernatural action property is due to men who were the indie filmmakers of their day—Roger Corman and Samuel Zarkoff. Their American International Pictures had an internal strategy called The Peter Pan Syndrome. It had five pillars:
1. A younger child will watch anything an older child will watch.
2. An older child will not watch anything a younger child will watch.
3. A girl will watch anything a boy will watch.
4. A boy will not watch anything a girl will watch.
5. Therefore, to catch your greatest audience you zero in on the 19-year old male.
Hollywood, once it caught on, was able to bid for and annex the teenager pretty effectively with BBBs (Big Budget B-movies). That’s partly why the 1955 The Fast and the Furious cost $50,000 (less than half a million in 2014 dollars), and the 2001 The Fast and the Furious cost $38 million.
The Peter Pan Syndrome, however problematic (and unable to predict Twilight), is part of the key to understanding the way things are now.
Which brings us to Dracula: Untold, from the virgin team of director Gary Shore and writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Given the very low expectations of its sub-genre, the film is surprisingly entertaining compared to similar movies I’ve seen and written about.
Dracula Untold is the dark and religious origin story of Prince Vlad (Luke Evans), a Man With A Troubled Past. Vlad, a former child conscript of The Turks, has left impaling for a nice life with wife Mirena (Sarah Gordon). ...1