Inkheart (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Iain Softley
Screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on Inkheart
by Cornelia Funke
Produced by
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Edited by Martin Walsh
Music by Javier Navarrete
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures (International)
Entertainment Film Distributors (United Kingdom)[1][2]
Eagle Pictures (Italy)[2]
Release date
  • December 11, 2008 (2008-12-11) (Germany)
  • December 12, 2008 (2008-12-12) (United Kingdom)
  • January 23, 2009 (2009-01-23) (United States)
Running time
106 minutes[3]
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Italy
Language English
Budget $60 million[2][4]
Box office $62,450,361[2][4]

Inkheart is a 2008 fantasy adventure film directed by Iain Softley, produced by Cornelia Funke, Dylan Cuva, Sarah Wang, Ute Leonhardt, Toby Emmerich, Mark Ordesky, Ileen Maisel and Andrew Licht, written by David Lindsay-Abaire, music composed by Javier Navarrete and starring Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Andy Serkis, and Eliza Bennett. It is based on Cornelia Funke's 2003 novel of the same name.

Produced by New Line Cinema, the film was released theatrically on December 12, 2008, in the UK and January 23, 2009, in the US by Warner Bros. Pictures. Inkheart received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $62,450,361 on a $60 million budget.[2][4]

Inkheart was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on April 13, 2009.[5] On January 12, 2009, a video game based on the film was released for the Nintendo DS.[6]


Parents Mortimer "Mo" Folchart (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Teresa "Resa" Folchart (Sienna Guillory) read the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood" to their baby daughter Meggie, as a red velvet hood appears out of nowhere. Twelve years later, Meggie (Eliza Bennett) visits an old book shop in Europe with her father, unaware that he is secretly looking for a copy of the book Inkheart. Shortly after Mo finds the book, Meggie encounters a horned marten outside the shop; it tries to bite her fingers. A man (Paul Bettany) suddenly appears from the shadows, claiming to be an old friend. Mo comes out of the shop, recognizing the man as Dustfinger, who quickly asks him to "read him back into the book". Mo flees with Meggie.

Mo takes Meggie to visit her great-aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) in Italy. There he tells Meggie that nine years ago, reading to her from Inkheart, he inadvertently freed Dustfinger, a fire dancer, due to a gift he possessed from birth. Unfortunately, the book's villain, Capricorn (Andy Serkis), and one of his henchmen, Basta (Jamie Foreman), were also freed. Fleeing with his infant daughter, Mo realizes Resa has been taken into the book. Dustfinger arrives with Basta, who captures the group, destroys Elinor's library and takes Inkheart. They are taken to Capricorn's new castle in the real world.

During their imprisonment, Mo explains his gift to Meggie and Elinor, stating that when he reads a person or an object out of a book, someone from the real world is sent into it, hence his wife's disappearance. Capricorn forces Mo to use his gift, acquiring treasure from one of the stories in The Arabian Nights, and imprisoning Farid (Rafi Gavron), one of the 40 Thieves. Dustfinger, who was promised a return into the book, is betrayed by Capricorn. Nevertheless, the group escapes using the tornado from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Elinor leaves to recover what is left of her library as the other head for Alassio, the town of Inkheart's author, Fenoglio (named in honor of Italian writer Beppe Fenoglio), who may have another copy, following Meggie's proposal. Dustfinger is initially afraid of learning his fate in the book, but later joins them. When they meet Fenoglio (Jim Broadbent), the author's ecstatic reaction to seeing his creation alive leads Dustfinger to learn he dies at the end, trying to save his marten, Gwin. Angry, he berates Fenoglio before eventually telling Mo that Resa is trapped in the castle and has lost her voice.

Mo and Dustfinger take Fenoglio's car; Farid stows away in the trunk. At Fenoglio's house, Meggie begins reading out loud, bringing Toto from The Wizard of Oz. Basta bursts in with his men and takes the group to Capricorn. Elinor, having decided to stay, realizes something is amiss and pursues them. At the castle, Capricorn orders Meggie to bring the Inkheart's monster, Shadow, threatening to harm her mother if she does not comply. Mo sneaks into the castle. Dustfinger is captured, but escapes after Meggie informs him of Capricorn's intentions.

Mo attempts to free Meggie and others, as Capricorn forces her to bring the Shadow. Dustfinger returns to the castle with Farid, setting it alight. The distraction allows Fenoglio to give Toto a rewrite he made to help Meggie stop Capricorn's plan. As Elinor arrives with the creatures Capricorn imprisoned, Meggie writes out the story on her arm. As she reads out her creation, Capricorn turns into ashes as the Shadow devours him, his henchmen vanish, the Shadow explodes, and all the read-out creatures back are returned where they belong, including Toto. In addition, she grants Fenoglio's wish to live in the world he created, while reuniting her and Mo with her mother and restoring her voice. Dustfinger is also safely read back into Inkheart, where he is reunited with his wife Roxanne. In the real world, Farid reveals he kept Gwin with him, thus allowing Dustfinger to avoid his fate and have control over his destiny. As Mo and his family leave with Farid, Meggie agrees to teach him how to read while Farid agrees to teach her how to use the dragon breath, the fire breathing ability of Dustfinger's which Farid learned.




Shortly after the novel was published, author Cornelia Funke sent a copy of Inkheart along with a note to Brendan Fraser, explaining that he was her inspiration for the character of Mo.[7]

So I get this book. It shows up in the mail. 'Dear Brendan,' it's inscribed, 'Thank you for inspiring this character.' I can feel my leg getting pulled already. 'What? Where's Ashton Kutcher?' 'I hope that you get a chance to read this aloud to your kids one day. Best wishes, Cornelia Funke.' I had no idea from a bar of soap who she was, so I Googled her. Wow, so much work, she's prolific. I think part of the story is that a little girl who was bilingual, I think she was a Brit but she spoke German fluently, had discovered a copy of Tintenherz which she loved and read, and wrote to either it was Cornelia or the publisher and asked why isn't this published in English? And I think Cornelia probably wanted to know the answer to that question too. So once it was, it just became a snowballing thing and then that really got her out there and led to the acclaim and popularity of her work.

It was this that motivated director Iain Softley and the casting department to consider Fraser first for the role in the film. Fraser told Softley that if it was determined that he was not right for the role, not to feel obligated to use him on the project. Softley was ultimately impressed with Fraser's performance and contracted him for the film. Public auditions were held for the role of Meggie Folchart[8] with the intention of casting an unknown actress, however the role eventually went to Eliza Bennett who had already worked extensively on television and film at the time. Funke, was quoted as saying that "we had our second screening (summer 2007), which went well, and I really loved the movie, but they are still changing things, especially at the end."[citation needed] Inkheart was filmed at Shepperton Studios near London, England and on location in Balestrino, Albenga, Alassio, Entracque and Laigueglia, Italy, in 2006 and 2007.

[A] lot of the things that we tried to do are more to do with optical illusion, the sleight of hand. ... It feels very organic and very real, and I actually think it makes the magic more effective. I think that there is a sort of discounting that goes on in the minds of an audience when they know that it's sort of a computer world or a digital world. It's like, 'Oh, they can do anything. They can press a button for however many weeks they need at a machine.' Whereas if you actually get the sense that it's something more like the craft of illusion, I think that it's more magical, actually.

—  Iain Softley, interviewed on the set[9]

The production also visited Hever Castle in Kent to shoot the exterior for Elinor's Tuscan villa setting.[10]

Visual effects

Double Negative created the menacing animated character, The Shadow, along with other creatures and visual effects for the film. The finale of the film takes place within a ruined amphitheater nestled in the Italian mountains; this is the lair of Capricorn, one of the villains Mo has accidentally "read" into the real world. The visual effects work included the digital augmentation of the bluescreen set, the billowing, pyroclastic monster, The Shadow, the surreal winged monkeys with their raven black feathers and Capricorn's final transition.[11]


  • Munich Schmankerl - performed by the Bavarian Band and Chorus
  • My Declaration - performed by Eliza Bennett


As with the production of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,[citation needed] the production progressed very slowly. The American release was originally set for Christmas 2007, but then was changed from its original release date of Christmas 2007 then towards March 19, 2008.[citation needed] Due to the writer's strike, the film was pushed back more and more, than opened December 12, 2008 in the UK and January 23, 2009 in the US.


Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 38% based on 140 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The site's consensus is "Heavy on clichés and light on charm, this kid-lit fantasy-adventure doesn't quite get off the ground."[12] On Metacritic the film has a score of 49 out of 100, based on reviews from 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[13] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.[14]

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter disliked the film, saying: "Whatever made the German novel Inkheart by Cornelia Funke so popular that it got translated into 37 languages is nowhere in evidence in its film version", and "The main problem is the central concept itself."[15]

Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic enjoyed the film, saying: "Inkheart is entertaining enough, if not always easy to follow. And if it does nothing else, at least it may inspire kids to read, if for no other reason than to help make sense of it all."[16] A. O. Scott said the film "aims for a blend of whimsy and tingly suspense but botches nearly every spell it tries to cast. Its opening scenes are more confusing than intriguing, and the acceleration of the plot leads to a sense of busyness rather than suspense. A movie that can produce the image of Helen Mirren astride a unicorn has some claim on the audience's interest, and a movie that can make that image seem perfectly uninteresting is in some serious trouble."[17]

Box office

The film grossed $2,110,000 during its opening day in 2,655 theaters. It opened at #7 at the U.S. box office with $7,725,000, with a worldwide gross of close to $13 million. It yielded just $1 million from its opening in the UK, ranking fourth, while coming in third at $1.8 million in Germany. It later came to make $5,781,992 in the UK, $10,112,691 in Germany, $1,222,364 in Australia, $1,484,027 in France, $3,289,477 in Italy, $1,815,500 in Taiwan, $2,951,290 in Spain, $2,665,476 in South Korea, $1,681,477 in Russia, $2,378,200 in Mexico, and $1,080,825 in Malaysia, plus $4,187,389 from smaller countries.[2] Inkheart made $17,303,424 in the United States, and $45,146,937 internationally, making the final worldwide gross of the film to be $62,450,361.[2] It made $8.3 million in US DVD sales during its first week.[4]


Javier Navarrete won the award for Best Original Score for a Fantasy Science Fiction Film for this film at the IFMCA Award.[18]

Home media

Inkheart was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on April 13, 2009.[5] It was released in the United States on June 23, 2009. It was released in Australia on September 24, 2009 on DVD and Blu-Ray and re-released on August 10, 2016 on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

In other media

Video games

On January 12, 2009, a video game based on the film was released for the Nintendo DS.[6] On Metacritic the game has a score of 36% based on 8 critic reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[19]


  1. ^ "Inkheart (2008)". BBFC. Retrieved April 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Inkheart (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "INKHEART (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. October 28, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Movie Inkheart - Box Office Data, News, Cast Information". The Numbers (website). Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Inkheart". April 13, 2009 – via
  6. ^ a b "Inkheart Release Information for DS". GameFAQs. January 12, 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  7. ^ "Inkheart - Brendan Fraser on Inkheart and Inspiring Author Cornelia Funke". June 17, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ Director Iain Softley and Helen Mirren Team Up to Talk About Inkheart a January 2007 article from
  10. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Inkheart Film Focus".
  11. ^ "Inkheart". Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  12. ^ Inkheart at Rotten Tomatoes
  13. ^ "Inkheart". Metacritic.
  14. ^ "INKHEART (2009) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on February 6, 2018.
  15. ^ Kirk Honeycutt. "Inkheart -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  16. ^ "Inkheart".
  17. ^ Scott, A. O. (January 22, 2009). "Novel's Characters Leap From the Page, Literally". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "2008 IFMCA Awards". IFMCA: International Film Music Critics Association. January 4, 2010.
  19. ^ "Inkheart". Metacritic.

External links