Based on the caliber of the talent involved, there were initially reasonably high hopes that The Professor and the Madman could end up finding some Academy Awards glory.
Leads Mel Gibson and Sean Penn have proven to be regularly divisive and polarizing figures, but they’ve each got two Oscars under their belts and have proven themselves to be very good at their day jobs. Throw in a period setting, a story that allows for much Acting with a capital ‘A’, and you can understand why those conclusions were reached.
Gibson’s James Murray begins the arduous task of compiling the first Oxford English Dictionary, where over 10,000 entries are submitted by Penn’s William Minor, who also happens to be a patient at the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, giving a unique angle to the typical prestige drama format.
However, Gibson ended up suing one of the production company’s involved, with director Farhad Safinia and the star disowning the project, which was eventually credited to the filmmaker under the P. B. Shemran pseudonym, and neither of them promoted the film at all.
The Professor and the Madman was eventually shuffled into select theaters and VOD in early 2019, where it vanished without a trace. However, it’s appeared out of nowhere to crash right into the Netflix most-watched list in 26th position, as per FlixPatrol.