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Scott Derrickson Talks Leaving Doctor Strange 2, And The ‘Satisfying’ Feeling That Eventually Followed

Bendict Cumberbatch stands on a chaotic street in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Sam Raimi was able to return to Marvel earlier this summer when the three-time Spider-Man director helmed the MCU sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a gig that once belonged to Scott Derrickson. He was in line to follow up on his 2016 origin story, Doctor Strange, when creative differences led to Derrickson walking off of the project. Part of what inspired him to walk is that he knew he had a solid screenplay for an adaptation of Joe Hill’s short story, The Black Phone, waiting to be made. And coincidentally, that horror movie ended up in theaters at the exact same time as Multiverse of Madness, which you would think might be strange (no pun intended) for the Sinister filmmaker.  

But when Scott Derrickson hopped onto the ReelBlend podcast to discuss The Black Phone ahead of its digital and home video release, he addressed the timing of the two movies competing against each other at the box office, telling us:

It wasn't strange. It was satisfying Because I walked off of a Marvel movie. Who does that, you know? And I knew that whatever I did next, I wouldn't say I thought I'd be scrutinized for it. I just knew that it was really significant that if I did that, and I walked off and made a bad movie or made a movie that was a failure, that would be very problematic for my career. . … I mean, it's quite a thing to walk off of one of the most anticipated movies in the world, that's a sequel to your own film.

Scott Derrickson has been an absolute class act when it comes to Sam Raimi taking over Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, complimenting the movie’s trailer and basically hyping it up to any fan that asked him about it. Not that the Doctor Strange sequel needed that much help. Coming on the heels of Spider-Man: No Way Home, of which Stephen Strange was a significant contributor, the buzz already was high for Multiverse of Madness. Add in the fact that it was the first official blockbuster of the summer season, as well as Sam Raimi’s return to superhero storytelling, it should surprise no one that it came close to $1 billion in worldwide tickets sold. 

At the same time, Scott Derrickson could afford to take a victory lap because the movie he shifted over to, The Black Phone, was no slouch at the box office. Even before it has opened in Korea (a significant market for horror), Derrickson’s adaptation has brought in nearly $150 million globally, and is expected to draw very well on home video. 

In our conversation, Derrickson hints that the story of The Black Phone lends itself to sequelization ideas despite the movie’s ending, but stopped short of giving away any details. For now, the movie is still in theaters, and will be made available on home video on August 16, 2022. 

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.