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Sunday, 30 September, 2001, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Romania has no stake in Dracula
By the BBC's Kate Poland in Transylvania

Romanians hoping to make a killing on their most famous son - Vlad Dracula - have received some news that is making their blood run cold.

The government in Bucharest has found that it does not own the rights to the image of the legendary vampire - a Hollywood studio does.

The discovery means Romanians will have to pay royalties to Universal Studios for creating a Dracula theme park.

Bran Castle
Tourists flock to Bran Castle in Transylvania
Dracula was the creation of novelist Bram Stoker in 1897 who based the character on a 15th century ruler in Transylvania, Vlad Tepes - or Vlad the Impaler.

But it was films made by Universal Studios that gave us the famous image of Dracula - the black cape, the deathly pale skin and the fangs.

The enduring myth draws about 250,000 tourists to Bran Castle - known as Dracula's castle - in Transylvania every year.

It does not matter that Count Dracula did not exist, or that the castle itself looks more like a fairytale palace than the sinister abode of the prince of darkness.

'Dracula Land'

There are thousands of Dracula societies, films, books, academic papers and games.

The Government of Romania has woken up to the compelling attraction of the character and earlier this year announced that it was going to build Dracula Land, a theme park and research centre.

It is expected to bolster a weak economy by creating 3,000 jobs and bringing a million visitors and $20m to the region every year.

But the government overlooked one thing - the rights to the popular image of the count.

Universal Studios made seven Dracula films between 1930 and 1960.

A spokeswoman said that the proposed theme park must pay - an amount yet to be settled - to depict Universal's version of Dracula.

According to the Ministry of Tourism in Bucharest, this includes his teeth.

The ministry said it was waiting for delivery of the seven films by Universal, and then they will get their teeth into the negotiations.

See also:

09 Jul 01 | Europe
Coming soon - Dracula Land
21 Mar 01 | Scotland
Tourist board stakes Dracula claim
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