When the first reviews for director Neil Marshall’s R-rated Hellboy reboot dropped yesterday, I’m sure that quite a few of you responded with “What the hell?!”. I was never completely blown away by Guillermo Del Toro two Hellboy movies from the early 2000s, but I certainly liked them enough. At the very least, I expected the same from this new adaptation of Mike Mignola’s seminal horror-fantasy comic. Instead, what we apparently got was a big red pile of demon poop.
With just a 10% Rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, many fans are wondering what went wrong. Well, The Wrap claims to have some answers with a report that paints the picture of a production gone off the rails due to on-set clashes as various parties tried to make this their movie. The main factions in this on-set power struggle were reportedly Marshall on one side facing off against Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin, two of the film’s 16 producers, and who own the film rights. Also adding in his two cents was apparently Hellboy himself in star David Harbour who allegedly took issue with some of Marshall’s filming practices.
The Wrap’s sources claim that Marshall and the producers butted heads frequently over numerous issues, including something as trivial as whether a digital tree in the film would be symmetrical or not. The producers allegedly also gave the cast their own on-set instructions in between takes contrary to what Marshall had asked for. When the battle between the two sides reached fever pitch, Marshall’s long-time cinematographer Sam McCurdy was reportedly fired for following Marshall’s orders.
Marshall, McCurdy, Gordon and Harbour have all declined to comment to The Wrap about the report, but Levin’s lawyer, Martin Singer, has issued statements outright denying the allegations made against him and his producing partner. They also claim that Marshall himself is stoking the fires so that he won’t take the brunt of the blame for Hellboy’s critical failure (box office predictions are looking pretty bleak as well). However, Gordon and Levin don’t deny that they reportedly took over the final editing of the film after Marshall turned in his cut, as they
Here’s a detailed breakdown of The Wrap’s report, which the two sides are contesting:
• Three people told TheWrap that Levin interrupted Marshall frequently in front of the crew as Marshall tried to rehearse actors, sometimes giving them different directions than the director. Singer’s attorney disputed that: “In fact, Mr. Levin would speak to Neil Marshall after rehearsals and discuss issues with him at that time.”
• Two insiders said Harbour repeatedly walked off set, refusing Marshall’s requests for more takes. Singer responded for Levin: “My client has no recollection of that ever happening. To the contrary, David Harbour gave everything he was asked of and more during filming.”
• Two insiders said the script was re-written throughout the production. One said those doing the rewriting included actors Harbour and co-star Ian McShane. Singer responded: “Only a few scenes were rewritten during production, and neither David Harbour nor Ian McShane did any rewriting of the screenplay at all. Rewriting certain scenes of a movie during production is customary in the entertainment industry, including by actors, producers, writers and directors.”
• One insider described a prolonged dispute over a surreal tree that figures prominently in the film. Marshall wanted a realistic-looking, asymmetrical tree. But the insider said Levin overruled him, insisting on a symmetrical tree. Then, in postproduction, the tree became asymmetrical again. Singer disputed any suggestion that Levin “somehow mucked it up in a back-and-forth tug-of-war over symmetry versus asymmetry,” adding: “The design of the tree, like hundreds of other design elements in the movie, went through an exhaustive design and evolution process.”
Hellboy opens in cinemas countrywide today.
Last Updated: April 12, 2019