Much to the chagrin of Hellboy fans, Neil Marshall, David Harbour, and Mike Mignola (to say nothing about the financial stake holders at Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment), the much-hyped Hellboy reboot failed to deliver at the box office, or in the eyes of critics and fans.
Expectations were gauged as cautiously optimistic for the latest adventures of Dark Horse Comics “Big Red” (especially when it was clear that Hellboy would be entering a crowded scene with the continued success of Shazam, Us, Captain Marvel, and last week’s Pet Sematary remake), but no one involved could have prepared for the anemic box office returns, as the film earned only an estimated $12 million in its first weekend of release.
Hellboy scored a hellish 15% on Rotten Tomatoes (which is, believe it or not, an improvement since Friday’s initial numbers) and a 67% fresh audience score (as rated by just over 2,000 fans who were hopefully the few people who actually purchased tickets to the film). The film’s Cinemascore tells a different story in terms of fan reaction, with opening night fans giving Hellboy a grade of C.
The previous Guillermo del Toro films scored much higher on both Rotten Tomatoes and Cinemascore. 2004’s Hellboy earned a score of 81% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and a B- Cinema Score. The sequel, 2008’s Hellboy: The Golden Army, performed even better, clocking in at 86% fresh and a B exit grade. In terms of box office results, each of the previous films (with no adjustment for inflation) will certainly eclipse the new film, with the original film bringing in $60 million and the sequel earning $75 million domestically.
In an interview with Vulture this weekend, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola took the bad news in stride, saying that he was “… aware of the reviews, but I have decided not to read the reviews. I’m anxious to hear what the fans think of the film. I certainly want the fans to be happy. But, no, I’m gonna stay away from the reviews.”
Mignola also discussed the risk that creators take when they allow their characters to enter a different medium, without the control they once had over them. Mignola compared the experience to allowing your children to grow up, saying “… it’s an interesting process of creating something and letting it go. There’s always gonna be a part of you that says, I almost wish I hadn’t let him go. Y’know? It’s not really mine. The books are mine; that’s great. But at a certain point, it’s like watching your kid grow up and move away. They’re doing shit you don’t know anything about and you kinda miss when they lived in the house.”
Magnolia took solace in the fact (and long-time Hellboy and Mignolaverse fans are sure to agree) “…that I have the comics that are 100 percent me or it’s me collaborating with another artist — that, to me, is always gonna be the real Hellboy stuff. Because, at the end of the day, that stuff wasn’t done until I said it was done. When you loan out the character and let other people take the character, you have to make your peace with the fact that it’s not going to be exactly what you would’ve done.”
In other box office news, last week’s Pet Sematary dropped an expected 62% to fourth place and an estimated $9.4 million weekend. The Stephen King reboot now stands at $40.5 million domestically, which no longer seems like a disappointment when compared to the performance of Hellboy. With a budget in the $21 million dollar range, the film will certainly be a modest hit for Paramount (especially when international receipts are counted).
Jordan Peele’s Us continues to draw crowds and the Tethered accounted for another $6.6 million at the box office this weekend, bringing the film’s domestic total to $165 million. At this rate, US should catch Get Out before it finishes its run in the next few weeks, although the margin will be a close one.
Next week brings another horror contender to the movie landscape in the form of The Curse of La Llorona. Will the weeping woman fare better than Hellboy or Pet Sematary? Be sure to come back next week for the answer to that question and be sure to consult HNN’s Spring Movie Guide for all of the other questions you have.