UVF try to sink teeth into Hollywood Dracula movie
East Belfast crime boss Stephen Matthews demanded a £10,000 protection payment from the makers of smash-hit move Dracula.
Crime lord Matthews attempted to extort cash from the makers of Dracula Untold, shot at a variety of locations across Northern Ireland and released last year to critical acclaim.
East Belfast has become the centre of a burgeoning international movie industry since the opening of the Paint Hall Studios in the Harbour Estate.
The Sunday World understands that an approach was made to the production team and it was suggested a “modest payment” would ensure the project could progress without interference.
There’s no suggestion any money was handed over, but according to sources it was thought a small price to pay to see off any potential threat. A source who worked on the project confirmed an approach was made and there was no doubt as to the source.
“When the Dracula movie was being shot a couple of years ago, a lot of it was shot in a big converted studio in East Belfast,” said the source.
“During filming the local UVF said they wanted a load of money or they would burn the place down. It was a five-figure sum. Obviously that’s a lot of money but in terms of making a Hollywood movie with a massive budget it’s not that much.”
Luke Evans on the set of Dracula untold
There is also no suggestion the proprietors of the Paint Hall Studios were even aware of the demand, let alone considered paying it.
It is also thought Matthews demanded his men be given ‘security’ jobs on the production.
“Dracula ended up being a box-office smash, but the worry is how this will affect other projects in the future,” said our source.
The Universal Pictures $100m production released last autumn also took in Divis and Black Mountain.
The movie starred Luke Evans (picured above) and was based on the original Bram Stoker story on the true history of Prince Vlad combined with vampire mythology.