David Harbour has had massive success on television thanks to his starring role on Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” but his film career in recent years hasn’t been as promising. Harbour was the face of Neil Marshall’s 2019 “Hellboy” reboot, which earned some of last year’s worst reviews and box office numbers. The film carried a $50 million production budget but only made $44 million worldwide. The gross at the domestic box office was a pry $21 million. “Hellboy” was by all accounts a misfire, but Harbour says the project never stood a chance at success because of the animosity that surrounded the reboot from the start. The actor says “Hellboy” fans, many of whom adore Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 movie and its 2008 sequel, were against the film before cameras started rolling.
“I think it failed before we began shooting because I think that people didn't want us to make the movie,” Harbour said on Instagram this week via Screen Rant. “Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman created this iconic thing that we thought could be reinvented and then [fans] certainly — the loudness of the internet was like, ‘We do not want you to touch this.’ And then we made a movie that I think is fun and I think had its problems but was a fun movie and then people were just very very against it and that's people's right but I learned my lesson in a lot of different ways.”
Harbour previously said his “Hellboy” reboot was “unfairly bludgeoned” because moviegoers compare every tentpole these days to Marvel movies. The actor is right when he says del Toro’s “Hellboy” movies have a passionate and vocal following on the internet. Del Toro fans have long wanted the filmmaker to make a third “Hellboy” film, so there was backlash towards rebooting the franchise without del Toro and Perlman. Del Toro’s 2008 sequel “The Golden Army” was not a financial hit, which more or less killed his chances of directing a third movie. Del Toro pitched “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola on an idea to turn his third movie into a comic book, but the author turned him down.
“I think del Toro mentioned it to me once, and I said no,” Mignola said last summer. “I think, let the comics be the comics. Comics are confusing enough for people. Let's not have two different versions of the 'Hellboy' comic out there. My vote would be to say no.”
Fortunately for Harbour, his film career should bounce back in a big way later this year with “Black Widow.” The Marvel Cinematic Universe tentpole was originally scheduled for release on May 1 but will open sometime later this year.
David Harbour is a charming guy, a good actor, and a genuinely beloved figure. So it pains me to see him talkin’ crazy about his failed Hellboy reboot. According to Harbour, the film’s failure was primarily due to fans of the Guillermo del Toro movies who were angry about a reboot. And while it’s certainly true that fans of the del Toro movies were unhappy the Oscar-winning filmmaker wasn’t allowed to complete his trilogy, that’s certainly not the reason the Hellboy reboot failed.
Pretty much no one liked the Hellboy reboot. And while David Harbour did his best, and wasn’t half-bad as the demon superhero, it wasn’t enough to salvage the film. There were also reports of behind-the-scenes problems involving the script, and that certainly played a part in the failure. But according to Harbour, the real culprit here are the fans of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy movies.
On Instagram via Screen Rant, Harbour opened up about the film’s failure, saying:
“I think it failed before we began shooting because I think that people didn’t want us to make the movie and for some reason there was like a big… Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman created this iconic thing that we thought could be reinvented and then they certainly – the loudness of the internet was like, “We do not want you to touch this.” And then we made a movie that I think is fun and I think had its problems but was a fun movie and then people were just very very against it and that’s people’s right but I learned my lesson in a lot of different way.”
To be fair to Harbour, fans of the del Toro/Ron Perlman movies were pretty ticked-off at the idea of a reboot. But the failure of the new Hellboy can’t be blamed on them. Instead, it boils down to the simple fact that the movie just didn’t look very good, and received dreadful reviews. Plus, it wasn’t like del Toro’s movies were huge box office blockbusters.
The 2004 Hellboy earned $99 million worldwide against a production budget of $66 million, and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army drew in $160 million against a $85 million budget. Those are good numbers, but they’re not exactly grand slams. The truth is that while Hellboy has a strong cult following as a comic book character, it’s not exactly the most beloved property for mainstream audiences. Couple that with poor trailers and even poorer reviews, and it’s easy to understand why the Hellboy reboot failed.