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Superhero movies are no longer summer-only experiences. As the genre has grown more popular, now various studios are comfortable releasing such theatrical offerings during other times of the year, which is why we find ourselves in an interesting predicament this April. Shazam!, Hellboy and Avengers: Endgame are all coming out that month, each representing a different comic book company. As previously acknowledged, Hellboy is the most likeliest to be negatively affected by this strange scheduling, so if Lionsgate is wise, it’ll push the reboot back further before it gets massacred by the competition.
For what it’s worth, Hellboy was originally scheduled to come out on January 11, but last September, Lionsgate decided to push it to April 12. No specific reason was provided, although given that marketing still hadn’t begun at the time, the move didn’t come as a complete shock. Plus, January is typically a lackluster month for movies, so one can’t blame Lionsgate for wanting to move it to a better spot. However, now Hellboy is sandwiched between Shazam! on April 5 and Avengers: Endgame on April 26.
If Shazam! was the only major motion picture Hellboy had to compete with, then maybe an argument could be made for keeping it where it currently is. But just like it did with Avengers: Infinity War last year, Marvel decided to move Avengers: Endgame from its early May spot to late April. So now, in addition to Hellboy contending with Shazam! stragglers its opening weekend, Hellboy will also have to deal with Avengers: Endgame grabbing peoples’ attentions in its third weekend. That’s not good at all.
Let’s face the facts: although he’s built up a solid fanbase ever since hitting the Dark Horse Comics scene in 1993, Hellboy isn’t a well-known character to the general public. Sure he got to lead two movies last decade directed by Guillermo del Toro that earned positive reception, but they didn’t make a splash commercially (which is part of the reason why Hellboy III never moved forward). No doubt Lionsgate is hoping that the Hellboy reboot will spawn an even bigger franchise that makes Big Red a household name; there’s certainly enough material that Hellboy mastermind Mike Mignola has created over the years to warrant a cinematic universe.
But as things stand now, Hellboy has DC and Marvel overlapping with its theatrical run. I don’t need to tell you how big of a deal Avengers: Endgame will be. Just look at how Avengers: Infinity War did last year, and then presume Endgame will do just as well, if not better. As for Shazam!, while the World's Mightiest Mortal also isn’t that popular a character to the general public, at least it’s part of an established franchise, with the latest entry, Aquaman, having just become the highest-grossing DC movie of all time. Combined with its fun tone, it’s a good bet plenty of people will check it out throughout April.
Taking all this into account, Lionsgate would be better suited postponing Hellboy so that it has a better chance of succeeding rather than be bombarded by two more high-profile blockbusters. Admittedly, a movie being delayed twice or more usually isn’t a good look, as evidenced by what’s happened with Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants. Public perception is important, but when pitted against how much money the movie will ultimately make, it’s better for the studio to prioritize the latter over the former.
So when should Hellboy be released? Definitely during the peak summer movie season. May to July is already packed to the brim with major blockbusters that would get interfere with Hellboy’s performance just like Shazam! and Avengers: Endgame will. It’s possible the reboot could potentially thrive in August, when the summer movie season winds down, but there are still the likes of Hobbs and Shaw and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark providing competition. November and December are also out because those winter releases (Terminator 6, Frozen 2, Star Wars: Episode IX, etc) are just as big, if not bigger, than the summer ones.
Since delaying Hellboy to 2020 would be questionable no matter what way you look at it, that leaves September and October, which is frankly a much better fit for this reboot. While the trailer didn’t do a good job of presenting this, it’s been said numerous times that Hellboy will be a darker, more horror-infused tale. What better time to release such a spooky movie then when Halloween is weeks away? Besides, having seen how Venom did last year as the only comic book movie of fall 2018, Hellboy taking a similar approach might get more people to see it on the big screen since there’s not as much action-packed content to check out that time of the year.
That being said, unlike Venom, Hellboy would be better off avoiding October and coming out in September instead. October has movies like Joker and Zombieland: Double Tap coming out, which Hellboy should steer clear from. In September, though, the only movie that could potentially interfere with Hellboy is IT: Chapter 2 at the beginning of the month, so if Hellboy comes out on the weekend of September 20 or 27, then it’ll have a week or two to “stand on its own” amidst the other movies that don’t really cross over with what it’s offering. It would certainly fare better than in its current April spot. So to the appropriate Lionsgate parties, consider moving Hellboy to the fall before it’s too late.
Inspired by the comic book storylines “Darkness Calls,” “The Wild Hunt” and “The Storm and the Fury,” Hellboy follows the eponymous protagonist and his allies at the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) fighting to stop a medieval sorceress from slaughtering humanity in her quest to merge the human world and monster world together. The main cast includes David Harbour as Hellboy, Milla Jovovich as Nimue the Blood Queen, Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan and Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio, among others. The Descent’s Neil Marshall directed and Andrew Cosby wrote the script.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates about Hellboy, including if it gets delayed again, as they come in. In the meantime, look through our 2019 release schedule to find out what other movies are coming out this year.