Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy 3 spent years in pre-production limbo before being officially cancelled in 2017, but what was the reason behind that? Del Toro has explored a number of fantasy worlds in his films, both from his imagination (like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water), and from other sources, like he did with Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
Both films featured Ron Perlman as the title character, Selma Blair as Liz Sherman, and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien, and were a success among critics and viewers, becoming a moderate box office success. Because of this, rumors about Hellboy 3 began not long after Hellboy II was released, and both del Toro and Perlman shared updates sporadically, until there was apparently no way to make it happen.
The first obstacle in Hellboy 3’s way was Guillermo del Toro’s busy schedule. He’s well known for working on many projects at once, eventually dropping a few due to scheduling conflicts, and following Hellboy 2 he was involved in a very big film: The Hobbit. Del Toro ultimately dropped out of directing in 2010, and said Hellboy 3 could be his next film. After working on other projects that never saw the light of day, he went on to make Pacific Rim, and Hellboy 3 was once more left as his “possible next project” – meanwhile, both he and Perlman continued to share their hopes and plans for the third film every time they were asked about it. Finally, in 2017, del Toro tweeted that if he got a certain number of votes he would talk to Perlman and Mike Mignola about Hellboy 3, only to report days later that he had spoken “with all parties” and that the Hellboy 3 would definitely not happen.
Another important factor that came into play was funding. Hellboy 3 would have cost around $120 million, which was way more than the previous films. After the success of Pacific Rim, del Toro discussed the possibility of Hellboy 3 finding a new home at Legendary Pictures, and in 2015 said that, if Pacific Rim Uprising did well at the box office, then Legendary would fund the project. In the end, the deal fell through after del Toro dropped out of directing and Steven S. DeKnight replaced him, and no other studio was willing to fund a project as expensive as Hellboy 3.
Hellboy ended up in the realm of reboots in 2019 with Neil Marshall’s Hellboy, which was a box-office bomb. Hellboy 3 ended up being one more title in the list of projects from del Toro that fans really wanted to see and were never made, and one that couldn’t even find a home as a comic book either. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.