Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roland Emmerich|
|Produced by||Roland Emmerich|
|Written by||Roland Emmerich|
|Music by||Harald Kloser|
|Edited by||Alexander Berner|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$269.8 million|
10,000 BC is a 2008 American epic action-adventure film directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Steven Strait and Camilla Belle. The film is set in the prehistoric era and depicts the journeys of a prehistoric tribe of mammoth hunters. The world premiere was held on February 10, 2008 at Sony Center on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.
The film was a box office hit, but consistently regarded by professional critics as Emmerich's worst film, as well as one of the worst films of the year.
Circa 10,000 BC, a hunter-gatherer tribe called the Yagahl live in the Ural Mountains and survive by hunting woolly mammoths. The tribe is led by a hunter who has killed a mammoth single-handedly and earned the White Spear, and venerate Old Mother, an elderly neanderthal with shamanistic powers. The mammoths begin to dwindle, and the village chief finds a young girl named Evolet who survived a massacre of her village, perpetrated by what Old Mother calls "four-legged demons" who will come when "the Yagahl go on their last hunt". She prophesies that whoever kills the leader of the "demons" will win both Evolet and the White Spear, becoming the next village chief. The tribe believe that the "demons" are mammoths, whose return will save them from starvation. The chief does not believe the prophecy and leaves to find the mammoths. He entrusts the White Spear, his son D'Leh, and the true purpose of his quest to his friend Tic'Tic. The rest of the tribe, including D'Leh's rival Ka'Ren, believe that D'Leh's father was a coward and fled. Over time, D'Leh and Evolet fall in love.
When the mammoths finally return, D'Leh hunts them with the men of the tribe under Tic'Tic's leadership, and manages to kill one by accident, inadvertently winning both the White Spear and marriage to Evolet. The village believes Old Mother's prophecy is coming true, but D'Leh is consumed by guilt for not earning the White Spear fairly. After speaking with Tic'Tic, he gives up the White Spear, forfeiting his marriage to Evolet. The next day, horse-raiders attack the camp, enslaving Evolet and several others and killing many of the tribe. D'Leh, Tic'Tic, Ka'Ren and young boy Baku set out to rescue their fellow Yagahl, but Evolet is recaptured with Ka'Ren and Baku during an attack on the slavers by terror birds, and Tic'Tic is wounded. While hunting, D'Leh falls into a pit, where he rescues a Smilodon before escaping himself. After Tic'Tic recovers, they make their way to a village and learn of a prophecy from the Naku, another tribe; whoever talks to a Smilodon they call the "Spear-Tooth" will help free their people. D'Leh realizes the prophecy is about him when the Smilodon he rescued arrives and refuses to kill him. They also learn that D'Leh's father was a guest of the Naku until he was captured by the slavers and Tic'Tic finally reveals to D'Leh why his father left.
Several tribes form a coalition to pursue the raiders with D'Leh as their leader. They find the ships holding Evolet and their families but with no means to follow, they journey through a desert and discover an advanced civilization similar to ancient Egypt, ruled by an enigmatic figure known as the "Almighty", where the kidnapped Yagahl work as slaves. The warlord who kidnapped Evolet tries to coerce her into loving him, only to be arrested by the Almighty when they find he has taken her without permission. During a night scouting raid, D'Leh learns of the Almighty and the fate of his father, who perished as a slave. The party is spotted by the guards, who are killed by Tic'Tic before he succumbs to his wounds. The Almighty's priests believe that Evolet is destined to kill The Almighty, based on the whip scars on her hands matching the stars they call the "Mark of the Hunter" and an ancient prophecy foreseeing their civilization's downfall. The Almighty realizes that Evolet is merely the herald of the true hunter. D'Leh starts a rebellion among the slaves, killing many of the Almighty's forces, though Ka'Ren is killed.
The Almighty offers Evolet and the other hunters to D'Leh in exchange for abandoning his rebellion. D'Leh feigns acceptance but kills the Almighty with a spear. During the ensuing battle, Evolet is killed by the warlord who is then killed by D'Leh, but is restored to life when Old Mother sacrifices herself. With the Almighty dead and his civilization destroyed, the Yagahl bid farewell to the other tribes and return home with seeds given to them by the Naku to start a new life.
The sounds made by the saber-toothed cat in the movie are based on the vocalization of tigers and lions.
Emmerich opened casting sessions in late October 2005. In February 2006, Camilla Belle and Steven Strait were announced to star in the film, with Strait as the mammoth hunter and Belle as his love. Emmerich decided that casting well known actors would distract from the realistic feel of the prehistoric setting. "If like, Jake Gyllenhaal turned up in a movie like this, everybody would be, 'What's that?'", he explained. The casting of unknown actors also helped keep the film's budget down.
At the 2008 Wondercon, Emmerich mentioned the fiction of Robert E. Howard as a primary influence for the film's setting, as well as his love for the film Quest for Fire and the book Fingerprints of the Gods.
Director Roland Emmerich and composer Harald Kloser originally penned a script for 10,000 BC. When the project received the greenlight from Columbia Pictures, screenwriter John Orloff began work on a new draft of the original script. Columbia Pictures, under Sony Pictures Entertainment, dropped the project due to a busy release calendar, and Warner Bros. picked up the project in Sony's vacancy. The script went through a second revision with Matthew Sand and a final revision with Robert Rodat.
Production began in early 2006 in South Africa and Namibia. Location filming also took place in southern New Zealand and Thailand. Before shooting began, the production had spent eighteen months on research and development for the computer-generated imagery. Two companies recreated prehistoric animals. To cut time (it was taking sixteen hours to render a single frame) 50% of the CGI models' fur was removed, as "it turned out half the fur looked the same" to the director.
Dialect coach Brendan Gunn was hired by Emmerich and Kloser to create "a half dozen" languages for the film. Gunn has stated that he collaborated informally with film lead Steven Strait to improvise what the languages would sound like.
In an alternative ending, the scene shifts forward many years into the future, showing Baku's retelling of the story by the camp fire. It ends with a child asking what had happened to the "Mountains of the Gods", and Baku responds, "They were taken back by the sands. Lost to time, lost to man".
The film received largely negative reviews from critics. Critics noted that the film is archaeologically inaccurate and contains many factual errors and anachronisms. As of 16 December 2014[update], the review aggregator at Rotten Tomatoes has reported that 8% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 147 reviews. The site's consensus states: "With attention strictly paid to style instead of substance, or historical accuracy, 10,000 BC is a visually impressive but narratively flimsy epic." Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 34 out of 100, based on 29 reviews. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade C.
Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote: "Conventional where it should be bold and mild where it should be wild, 10,000 BC reps a missed opportunity to present an imaginative vision of a prehistoric moment." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote: "Roland Emmerich's great big CGI blockbuster lumbers along like one of the woolly mammoths that roam across the screen."
The film was a moderate success at the box office. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $35.8 million in 3,410 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking No. 1 at the box office, and grossing over $22 million more than the film in second place, College Road Trip. As of 29 April 2008[update], it has grossed approximately $268.6 million worldwide—$94.6 million in the United States and Canada and $174 million in other territories—including $17.2 million in Mexico, $13.1 million in Spain, $11.3 million in the United Kingdom, and $10.8 million in China. This also makes it the first film of 2008 to surpass the $200 million mark.
The DVD of the film was released on June 24, 2008 in single-disc ions of DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the United States. Best Buy released a 2-disc limited ion along with the DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases. It was released on July 21, 2008 in the United Kingdom. The film grossed $31,341,721 in DVD sales, bringing its total film gross to $300,414,491.