Henry Selick, the director behind the hit animated movie Coraline, has spoken out about his 2000s flop starring Brendan Fraser, Monkeybone. In an interview with Double Toasted via YouTube, the filmmaker revealed how the kids movie didn’t get a fair shot back in the day due to multiple factors such as studio interference and lack of advertising, and how he would ultimately like to see a director’s cut of the film.
Monkeybone is an adaptation of Dark Town by Kaja Blackley and Vanessa Chong that was first released in 2001. Taking a hybrid approach to animation and live-action, it told the story of the cartoonist Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser), who finds himself in a limbo-like place called Downtown after a car accident. There he meets various figures, including the cartoon character that he created, Monkeybone (John Turturro). Based on a budget of $75 million, the family movie only grossed around $7.6 million worldwide and, as such, was considered a failure outright.
However, Selick has come forward to state that the film we all saw wasn’t the movie that he originally signed up for. Similarly, during the production then-20th Century Fox president Bill Mechanic was fired, and his replacement was unsure of how to sell the film – resulting in a lack of advertising.
“They dumped the film with no publicity, not a single ad, because they just figured, well, it’s a failure, we don’t wanna help it any which way. And the funniest thing of all though was that we did get rave reviews in The New York Times, in the L.A. Times,” the director explained. “But then for a lot of other critics, they were like they’re angry about this film. So I have two thoughts: it would never have been a big hit. It certainly would have done better if they advertised it a little.”
“I would still like to do a Director’s Cut because there’s a lot of cool stuff that was removed… my main lesson learned is, I don’t really do well in the live-action universe,” he continued. “I love my world of stop-motion… I went down a slippery slope to make Monkeybone, but the film that came out it’s not my vision of what the film could’ve been, and I just don’t thrive in that.”
Considering that Selick is the mastermind behind animated movies such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and, most recently, the Netflix movie Wendell & Wild, we are curious to see what Monkeybone could have been if he had complete control. Hopefully, the world gets to see that director’s cut in the future!
For more animation here is our guide to the best Disney movies of all time.