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The real reason Ron Perlman said no to the Hellboy reboot

The first film to truly draw attention to Guillermo del Toro as a visionary director to watch for (at least in the United States) was 2004's offbeat supernatural adventure Hellboy. The movie, based on the comic book series created by Mike Mignola, features the titular Hellboy (Ron Perlman) doing battle with the evil Grigori Rapsputin (Karel Roden), while also facing some of his own (literal) demons.

The first Hellboy film was a moderate success (it made just shy of $100 million worldwide), but that was enough to grant del Toro a crack at a sequel, 2008's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. That film was an even bigger success.

However, despite the popularity of the first two Hellboy films, del Toro was unable to get a third off the ground. In 2019, there was a new Hellboy film with a different director (Neil Marshall) and a new star in the title role (David Harbour). Unfortunately, that film did not manage to make back its $50 million budget, which has people asking again about the possible return of del Toro and Perlman's Hellboy.

No Guillermo del Toro, no Ron Perlman for Hellboy

"The only thing that's stopping the third Hellboy film is the fact that Guillermo is one of the busiest guys in the business," said Perlman in a June 2020 interview with Comic Book Movie. "He couldn't do it with all the stuff he's got lined up even if he wanted to."

As for the decision to walk away from 2019's Hellboy, it wasn't a difficult one for the actor. "The reboot was something I had the opportunity to participate in," Perlman explained, "and decided that the only version of Hellboy I'm interested in is the one I do with Guillermo and so in walking away from it, I truly walked away from it, and haven't seen it or heard much about it."

For context, a del Toro Hellboy III has been spoken about a lot in the years since the second film hit screens. As early as 2008, in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, del Toro talked about coming back for a third Hellboy if producers "can wait for me to get out of Middle Earth," referring to The Hobbit, which he was — at that point — slated to direct. By 2010, del Toro had dropped out of directing The Hobbit, but scheduling conflicts and other issues still kept Hellboy III at bay.

The other thing holding a del Toro Hellboy back

In a 2014 Reddit AMA with del Toro, what felt like the biggest nail was finally driven into Hellboy III's coffin. "We have gone through basically every studio and asked for financing, and they are not interested," revealed del Toro. "I think that the first movie made its budget back, and a little bit of profit, but then it was very very big on video and DVD. The story repeated itself with the second already, it made its money back at the box office, but a small margin of profit in the release of the theatrical print, but was very very big on DVD and video. Sadly now from a business point of view all the studios know is that you don't have that safety net of the DVD and video, so they view the project as dangerous."

Considering that the Hellboy reboot could not make back $50 million and del Toro's second Hellboy film cost $85 million back in 2008, the financing issue seems legitimate. However, with an Oscar for Best Director for The Shape of Water now under del Toro's belt, who knows what the future might hold?