David Harbour found success in the blockbuster film world with “Black Widow,” where he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Red Guardian, but his first go-around with studio tentpoles was more or less a disaster. Harbour led Neil Marshall’s 2019 “Hellboy” reboot, which only grossed $21 million in the U.S. on a $50 million production budget. At the worldwide box office, the film tapped out at $44 million. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment ahead of the release of his new film, the Santa Claus action thriller “Violent Night,” Harbour said “Hellboy” taught him not to get involved with beloved franchise IP.
“Let’s see. I learned not to fuck with an established IP, that’s for sure,” Harbour said. “[Don’t fuck with] a beloved and established IP. That’s the biggest lesson learned.”
“Whatever failures or successes that movie was, of which there are many, the movie itself had such a thing going into it that it was almost impossible,” Harbour continued. “Something like ‘Stranger Things’ or ‘Violent Night,’ it’s an original thing so people can judge it when it comes out, when they see it. They don’t have going into it so much stuff. That to me is what’s so difficult about existing IP.”
Back in a May 2020 Instagram post, Harbour linked his “Hellboy” movie’s failure to fans of Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 “Hellboy” movie and its 2008 sequel not wanting the reboot to succeed. Passion remained so enthusiastic for del Toro’s “Hellboy” that the odds were never going to work out in Harbour’s favor, the actor argued.
“I think it failed before we began shooting because I think that people didn’t want us to make the movie,” Harbour said at the time. “Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman created this iconic thing that we thought could be reinvented and then certainly the loudness of the internet was like, ‘We do not want you to touch this.’”
Harbour told GQ magazine this past July that he called Ryan Reynolds for advice after “Hellboy” flopped at the box office. Reynolds is no stranger to rebounding from box office disaster (see the maligned “Green Lantern” movie, for starters).
“I know [Ryan Reynolds] a little bit,” Harbour said. “I called him and I was like, ‘Hey man, I just need to know something. You know ‘Green Lantern?’ Huge flop for you. What the fuck is that like, because I think I’m going to hit that right now. Am I gonna be okay? Am I gonna survive this?”
Harbour said Reynolds was “sweet” about the whole situation, but “Hellboy” bombing at the box office remained a tough experience. As Harbour explained, “It was a very difficult experience because I wanted a lot out of it.”
“Violent Night” is now playing in theaters nationwide. Harbour’s upcoming slate includes the fifth and final season of “Stranger Things” and a return as Red Guardian in Marvel’s “Thunderbolts.”