Groucho has left the building…
So this week, we were at a stately mansion in New Orleans’ Garden District and apparently we’re enough of a deal here to warrant the local tour guides to adjust their routes to include us. (My wife took a city tour last week that devoted about 20 minutes to discussing the production and circling the set.)
We’re here at the mansion filming multiple scenes that occur here during the film with Dylan, Elizabeth (Anita Briem) and Marcus (Sam Huntington). As many have surmised already, Anita is playing Dylan’s love interest and Sam is Dylan’s sidekick, replacing the much beloved Groucho from the comics. A lot of people have complained about that replacement and I understand why. (Hey, I was pissed when they made Chas into Shia Labeouf.) It’s hard to see something you know so well and have for so many years go through drastic changes like that but here’s the reason why and it all boils down to one word: money. For those of you who might not know, in the Dylan Dog comics, Dylan’s sidekick is an actor who’s last role was playing Groucho Marx and he kind of got stuck there due to a memory loss (finally revealed in issue 228). He now lives and acts just like Groucho Marx. Now, when we started developing the movie, we immediately started researching it and found that Groucho Marx’s likeness is owned by a company who has licensed it from his estate (no need to mention their names). Such a place is likely to not care when an Italian publishing company starts using Groucho’s likeness in 1986. Heck, it probably won’t even last, right? By the time they realized it was going to last and it had become as big an international sensation as it was, the costs, in both cash and bad PR, would have been too great to make it worthwhile. Besides, it’s not like an Italian comic book character would ever make it to the American big screen, where the real Groucho is so well-known, right? So we come along, asking if we can make a movie with their character in it and they say, “Sure, it’ll just be seven figures. Several of them. Oh, and we want a piece of every image of him you use on anything, including any comics Bonelli publishes in the future.”
Well, as you might guess, we can’t really do that, especially at during the development phase when there isn’t even any money attached to the movie yet. And try going to any potential financers and ask for seven figures just to use a supporting character. So we have to plan for an alternative. Our first thought was to replace Groucho with another, more acceptable comedian and get the actual comedian to play the role. Like maybe the actor was playing Robin Williams or Roberto Benigni and we get the actual Robin Williams or Roberto Benigni to play it? Well, then we’re painting ourselves into another corner by needing to get one of those actors in the movie. And now we’ve got to be able to answer questions like “Why can’t it be Eddie Murphy? We could get Eddie Murphy for you.” or, worse, “Can we make his sidekick Robert Pattinson instead? Girls like him.”
So we made the decision to fight what battles we could win and not go looking for more that would keep us from making the film. (There have been enough about Dylan driving a bug or wearing a red shirt, believe me.) And so Marcus was born. There are plenty of nods to Groucho in the movie, hopefully in ways that make the fans know we care. Keep a lookout for the photos in Dylan’s office or when Marcus has to show up and throw him a gun from time to time.
Alright, I’m off to teach some actors how to fight. Ain’t Hollywood a weird place?
Development Exec/Stuntguy/SS (Spam Sculptor)