One of the defining cinematic trends of the 2000s and early 2010s was the insatiable desire to turn every semi-popular literary series rooted in fantasy into a live-action blockbuster, despite the fact an alarmingly high percentage of them failed to make it past a single installment, of which Inkheart was just one of many.
It was obvious what Warner Bros.’ long game was when the studio swooped in to secure the rights to Cornelia Funke’s whimsical adventure saga, with the opening book being followed by sequels Inkspell and Inkdeath, while the basic premise of a father/daughter duo possessing the ability to bring storybook characters to life by reading aloud contained limitless potential.
And yet, despite assembling a ridiculously stacked cast, Inkheart died an agonizing death at the box office. Director Iain Softley’s workmanlike and ironically unimaginative $60 million feature barely managed to recoup its production costs from theaters, and while it did prove to be a decent seller on home video, respective Rotten Tomatoes scores of 38 and 45 percent from critics and audiences are reflective of the thoroughly derivative nature of the project from top to bottom.
That’s even more frustrating when the cast was headlined by the beloved and endlessly charismatic Brendan Fraser, who was hardly a slouch in the effects-driven adventure department. Behind him were Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis, Sienna Guillory, Jennifer Connelly, Stephen Graham, and more, which is quite frankly a ludicrous assembly of talent.
Almost 15 years after imploding at the first hurdle, though, Inkheart has made a surprising splash on Netflix’s most-watched charts. Per FlixPatrol, the forgotten flop has been rocketing up the rankings since being added to the library in certain markets earlier this week, so a second wind may finally be on the cards.