Priest is a 2011 American supernatural action film starring Paul Bettany as the title character. The film, directed by Scott Stewart, is based on the Korean comic of the same name. In an alternate world, humanity and vampires have warred for centuries. After the last Vampire War, the veteran Warrior Priest (Bettany) lives in obscurity with other humans inside one of the Church's walled cities. When the Priest's niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires, the Priest breaks his vows to hunt them down. He is accompanied by the niece's boyfriend (Cam Gigandet), who is a wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess (Maggie Q).
The film first entered development in 2005, when Screen Gems bought the spec script by Cory Goodman. In 2006 Andrew Douglas was attached to direct and Gerard Butler was attached to star. They were eventually replaced by Stewart and Bettany in 2009 and filming started in Los Angeles, California, later in the year. The film changed release dates numerous times throughout 2010 and 2011. It was especially pushed back from 2010 to 2011 to convert the film from 2D to 3D. It was released in the United States and Canada on May 13, 2011
In the future, the war between humans and vampires has devastated the world. The Church, the future incarnation of the Roman Catholic Church, created an elite spiritual warrior organization, dubbed "Priests", who were capable of slaying vampires. The majority of the vampires were killed while the remainder were placed in reservations. The Church created isolated, heavily guarded cities. No longer needing the Priests' services, and fearing their own weapon the Church disbanded them. Outside the cities humans live outside the totalitarian control of the Church.
One day an unnamed Priest, is approached by Hicks, the sheriff of a nearby town. Hicks tells him that his brother Owen was mortally wounded, sister-in-law (and ex girlfriend, Shannon) were killed by vampires and Priest's niece Lucy was kidnapped. Hicks asks for Priest's assistance in tracking down Lucy. Priest goes against the wishes of Monsignor Orelas, the Church's leader, to do so. Monsignor Orelas then sends a group of four Priests led by Priestess to capture him and bring him back, dead or alive.
After saying goodbye to his dying brother, Priest and Hicks arrive at a human but vampire friendly reservation, where they discover that the vampires have taken shelter in Mira Sola. Mira Sola is a vampire hive where Priest lost several of his comrade Priests in a botched mission. There, they are joined by Priestess, who decides to help him because she is in love with him. The group discover that the vampires are using trains to travel, slowly amassing a new army and intending to attack the Priest's city and destroying the Church. They also discover that the inhabitants of Mira Sola had tunneled to the city of Jericho, where the other three Priests had been dispatched by Priestess.
Once in Jericho, the other three Priests are soon confronted by Black Hat, who was one of the Priests who was thought to have been killed in the botched mission at Mira Sola. Black Hat asks the three Priests to become one with the vampire family, but crucifies them when they refuse leaving their bodies to hang on crosses. Black Hat and his army of vampires then proceed to slaughter the entire town. After Priest, Priestess, and Hicks find the corpses of the three Priests, they discover Black Hat's trail and follow him, eventually catching up to his train along with the other vampires.
While Priestess plants a bomb on the railroad tracks in order to stop the train, Priest and Hicks board the train and confront Black Hat and the vampires and familiars (people infected with a pathogen that makes them subservient to the vampires). Black Hat overpowers both Priest and Hicks. Black Hat reveals that the vampire Queen gave him her blood, turning him into the first vampire-human hybrid. He asks Priest to join him. Priest refuses and fights Black Hat, who reveals the truth of Lucy's parentage to the girl. After the explosives are damaged in a fight with the familiars, Priestess straps the bomb to her motorcycle and crashes it into the train. The explosion kills the vampires and incinerates Black Hat, but Hicks, Priest, and Lucy are able to escape.
Priest returns to the city and confronts Monsignor Orelas, telling him of the burnt train containing the vampires bodies, which he proves by throwing a vampire head onto the floor. Monsignor Orelas believes that the war is over and Priest's proof is trickery; Priest tells him that its just beginning. Monsignor Orelas and Priest are at odds with each other when Priest leaves, Priest refusing to even listen to Monsignor Orelas as he walks out. Once he leaves the city and meets with Priestess, she reveals that the other Priests have been notified and will meet them at a rendezvous. Priest sets off with Priestess to meet the other Priests.
- Paul Bettany as Priest
- Karl Urban as Black Hat
- Cam Gigandet as Hicks
- Maggie Q as Priestess
- Lily Collins as Lucy Pace
- Stephen Moyer as Owen Pace
- Christopher Plummer as Monsignor Orelas
- Brad Dourif as Salesman
- Alan Dale as Monsignor Chamberlain
- Madchen Amick as Shannon Pace
- Dave Florek as Porter Production
The priests of our story are like Jedi knights. They have these supernatural abilities to fight vampires and they saved humanity before the movie even begins. Now, a generation later, society has moved on from war, and the priests are like pariahs. They're almost like Vietnam vets—they've been cast aside by society and they're now reviled and feared.
—Director Scott Stewart
Priest is directed by Scott Stewart and written by Cory Goodman. The film is based on the Korean comics Priest by Min-Woo Hyung. The project was first announced in March 2005 when the studio Screen Gems bought Goodman's spec script. In January 2006, Andrew Douglas, who directed The Amityville Horror, was attached to direct Priest. In June 2006, actor Gerard Butler entered negotiations to star as the title character, and filming was scheduled to start in Mexico on October 1, 2006. By March 2009, Douglas was replaced by Stewart, who impressed Screen Gems with Legion.Paul Bettany replaced Butler in the starring role. With a budget of $60 million, filming began in August 2009 in Los Angeles, California, and it concluded in November 2009. The film is the most expensive production from Screen Gems, to date.
Tokyopop flew Min-Woo Hyung to where production was taking place so the comics' creator could visit the art department and discuss the film with Stewart. The film diverges from the comics in following a different timeline of events. The director described Priest's vampires as not being human in origin, and humans bitten by vampires became familiars instead. There are different forms of vampires, such as hive drones, guardians, and a queen. Since the vampires were intended to move quickly, they were fully computer-generated for the film. While vampires are harmed by sunlight in most lore, the film's vampires are instead photosensitive, being albino cave-dwellers. Stewart said, "They are the enemy we don't really understand, but we fought them for centuries. They are mysterious and alien, with their own culture. You sense that they think and communicate, but you don't really understand what they are saying." The director also called Priest an homage to The Searchers with the title character being similar to John Wayne's character and the vampires being similar to the Comanche.Theatrical release
Priest was released in the United States and Canada on May 13, 2011. The film's release date changed numerous times in 2010 and 2011. It was originally scheduled for October 1, 2010, but it moved earlier to August 27, 2010 to fill a weekend slot when another Screen Gems film, Resident Evil: Afterlife, was postponed. When the filmmakers wanted to convert Priest from 2D to 3D, the film was newly scheduled for release on January 14, 2011. It was delayed again to May 13, 2011 so the film could attract summertime audiences.
Priest was released outside the United States and Canada on May 6, 2011 in four markets. It grossed an estimated $5.6 million over the weekend, with "decent debuts" of $2.9 million in Russia and $1.8 million in Spain. It performed poorly in the United Kingdom with under $700,000. The film was released in the United States and Canada on May 13, 2011 in 2,864 theaters with 2,006 having 3D screenings. It grossed an estimated $14.5 million over the weekend, ranking fourth at the box office. Its performance was considered subpar compared to similar films in the Underworld series and Resident Evil series. As of May 23, Priest has grossed an estimated $24.4 million in the United States and Canada and $37.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $62 million.Critical reception
Priest has received generally negative reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 17% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 69 reviews, with an average score of 4/10. The critical consensus is: "Priest is admittedly sleek and stylish, but those qualities are wasted on a dull, derivative blend of sci-fi, action, and horror cliches." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 41 based on 13 reviews.See also
- Legion (2010 film), also directed by Scott Stewart and starring Paul Bettany
- Vampire film, about vampires in cinema and other films featuring vampires References
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