Crimson Peak director Guillermo del Toro's thwarted comic book trilogy currently consists of Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and will theoretically be capped off by the still-unmade Hellboy 3. Del Toro and franchise star Ron Perlman have famously talked up a third film in the franchise for some time now, with Perlman stating that he feels completing the trilogy is an obligation.
While both Hellboy films turned out to be profitable, Hellboy II was not a massive box office success, which means that there are certain unofficial conditions in order to see Hellboy 3 greenlit. The main one, according to del Toro, is that 2017's Pacific Rim 2 needs to be a hit. Now del Toro has again revisited the subject, and has added more shape to the Hellboy 3 picture.
While doing the TCA (Television Critic's Association) press rounds (via Hitfix), del Toro described Hellboy 3 as a "big movie." In fact, the third entry - which is not in active development at this time - could dwarf the scope of the first two. According to the director: "It’s bigger [more ambitious and costly] than the first two."
The budget issue is clearly the main obstacle keeping the movie from a greenlight. Ron Perlman is adamant that the fans should not have to fund Hellboy 3 via something like Kickstarter, and with del Toro estimating the film's needed budget at around $120 million, crowdfunding was never a realistic outlet in the first place.
The central problem seems to be the box office reception of Hellboy II being used as a barometer for the potential success of a follow-up. The second movie was profitable but not quite profitable enough. Del Toro spoke about Hellboy II, saying:
"’Hellboy 2’ wasn’t greenlit because an executive was a big fan. The first one made money. But it made money mostly in home video and that market doesn’t exist any longer."
While Video on Demand and downloadable purchases of movies through services like iTunes are still viable home video outlets, it is true that the days of a box office underperformer making back not only its budget but a healthy profit through the retail sales of physical media (DVDs, Blu-rays) are essentially over. These days, the biggest moneymakers on DVD tend to have been hits in the theaters, with titles like Despicable Me 2, Big Hero 6 and X-Men: Days of Future Past racking up impressive physical media sales. Could Hellboy 3 make any kind of dent with such a large budget and such a long delay between films?
Del Toro is nothing if not realistic about the business, saying, "I always have five projects in development at a time, because only one will happen." Given the semi-legendary status of the director's unmade projects (At the Mountains of Madness, Justice League Dark) and despite del Toro and Perlman's apparent need to complete the trilogy, it might be time for fans to dampen their expectations.
Stay tuned for more details on Hellboy 3 as they become available.