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Hellboy Reboot Star Offers Interesting Reason For Why The Film Totally Flopped

David Harbour thinks fans of Guillermo del Toro's Big Red played a big part in why his Hellboy reboot failed. 

During an Instagram Stories Q&A with fans, the Stranger Things star opened up about the box office failure of director Neil Marshall's R-rated take on the iconic Dark Horse Comics character almost a year after its release. While a movie's ability to sink or swim is often chalked up to the strength of its narrative or the money behind its marketing campaign, Harbour believes something else sunk his spin on the hellish superhero, according to Digital Spy

"I think it failed before we began shooting, because I think that people didn't want us to make the movie," Harbour explained. "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.'"

Plans for another adaptation of Mike Mignola's world-destroying antihero initially caught some heat after it was announced that del Toro, who directed 2004's Hellboy and its 2008 sequel The Golden Army, would not be involved. Around the same time, del Toro also confirmed that a once discussed Hellboy 3 definitely wouldn't be happening either. The fan backlash to this creative decision by studio Lionsgate is something Harbour said he understands, however much it may have hurt. 

"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," he said.

General fan reluctance may have been part of why the reboot never caught fire, but there are plenty of other interesting reasons why the 2019 Hellboy wasn't successful.

The Hellboy reboot got support from one major fan early on

With so much love for the original and so little for the reboot, it easy to understand why Harbour thinks that unforgiving fans doomed his version from the start. But the reception of the film, from its announcement to its production to its eventual release and critical response, proves that what went wrong with the Hellboy reboot is about more than fan grievances. 

The film's failure to perform at the box office is as much about those other "problems" Harbour mentions as anything else. While some viewers may never have forgiven Lionsgate for opting to do a remake over finishing out del Toro's story, others may have given the film a shot thanks to original Big Red Perlman. Despite being replaced by Harbour after working for a decade to get del Toro's third film made, Perlman said in a Reddit AMA that "he had made peace with it." He even once commented on David Harbour taking up the mantle by calling him a "good dude" before generally wishing positive things for Marshall's take.  

While Perlman really didn't want to talk about Hellboy beyond that, getting support from the actor who first brought the beloved character to life could only help the reboot's case with fans. What may have hurt it early on wasn't just Lionsgate's choice to part ways with del Toro and Perlman, but to also unnecessarily diverge from the comics' source material. Before filming had even started, actor Ed Skrein left the Hellboy reboot amid a whitewashing controversy that saw producers cast him in the role of the Asian Major Ben Daimio. Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim eventually replaced Skrein, but the original blunder may have signaled to fans that Lionsgate's heads weren't in the right creative place. 

The 2019 Hellboy reboot faced production problems throughout filming

Casting shake-ups were only the tip of the film's production issues. One report from The Wrap revealed that filming was chaotic and full of controversy, so much so that Harbour reportedly walked off the set multiple times. One of the film's producers allegedly tried to undermine Marshall's direction with his cast, and a rumor even suggests the film's script was re-written during filming. These kinds of on-set creative issues often impact a movie's quality, and can easily make their way into final product.

It appears this may have been the case for Hellboy, with critics saying the reboot delivered an unfocused narrative that spent too much time on "forced cameos" and not enough time on developing its characters or simplifying an overcomplicated plot. Reviewers all-out roasted the movie, which holds a 17 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, which likely also played a large part in convincing moviegoers to stay awat. As for Harbour pointing the finger at bitter fans, it's worth noting that the movie's audience score is 49 percent — so while regular viewers didn't think too highly of Hellboy, they certainly thought better of the flick than most critics.

Harbour is right that plenty of people who loved Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy pushed back against his reboot early on, but there were plenty of other reasons the 2019 film never killed it at the box office — not to mention plenty of blame to go around.