Persistence pays off for 'Hellboy' sequel

Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:24pm EDT
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By Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - No offense to the red-skinned, gun-wielding, cigar-chomping demon, but he had to rely on several real-life heroes before "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" could make it to the screen.

The movie, which Universal opens Friday, is the only franchise in recent memory that began at one studio -- in this case Columbia -- that ended up at another, for which credit goes to the perseverance of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and producer Larry Gordon. While the occasional TV series ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Scrubs") has jumped from one network to another, film studios virtually never let a franchise go to a competitor.

Created by artist Mike Mignola, "Hellboy" was first published in 1993 by Dark Horse Comics and quickly gained attention in Hollywood. Then-fledgling Mexican filmmaker Del Toro expressed interest in an adaptation, which had Gordon attached as a producer.

But while the comic influenced the lighting in Del Toro's American debut "Mimic," that movie don't set the box office on fire.

When Gordon and Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson began shopping Del Toro's first "Hellboy" screenplay in 1998, they met with plenty of resistance. Why does he have to be red? Does he need to have a tail? Can we call him something other than Hellboy?

Although they managed to set up the project at Sony-based Revolution Studios, the project continued to face an uphill battle. Executives were reluctant to make the film without a star, pushing such actors as Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel on the filmmakers. With the project stuck in development hell, Del Toro hopped on New Line's "Blade 2."

A week after that action horror movie opened to $32.5 million in March 2002, Revolution greenlighted "Hellboy."

Just more than two years later, "Hellboy," starring Ron Perlman as the demon, hit screens. It cost around $60 million and made around $60 million. Even-steven.   Continued...

<p>Actor Ron Perlman poses for photographers during the premiere of the movie "Hellboy II The Golden Army" in Los Angeles, California, in this file photo fromJune 28, 2008. REUTERS / Hector Mata</p>