‘The Northman’ director addresses reports of studio interference

Image via Focus Features.

Robert Eggers has never come close to working on a scale as large as The Northman before, with the Viking revenge saga coming in at a princely $70 million, which is over six times more expensive than The Witch and The Lighthouse put together.

When a filmmaker throws their lot in with a major studio, then they have to acquiesce to certain demands and requests. It wasn’t too long ago that Eggers alluded to such events occurring in post-production, although he was keen to stress that The Northman arrives in theaters this coming Friday exactly the way he wanted and intended.

In a new interview with IndieWire, the co-writer and director sought to set the record straight once and for all on how heavy the interference was on behalf of the higher-ups at Universal.

“Well, OK. I knew when I gave the script to the studio that I was not going to have final cut on this movie. And that was a risk I was willing to take. The studio took a big risk on letting somebody made two sensationalist arthouse movies to make a big fucking Viking movie single-camera with all of his heads of departments. Frankly, our resumes did not warrant us making this movie, and they let us do it, which is amazing. I promised them the most entertaining Robert Eggers movie I could make.

I’ve said that the post process was the painful process of my life, and that is a fucking fact, OK? But it was also needed. I think if I’d had total control and was left alone, I’d be in a really bad position right now in the marketplace. I needed the pressure of the studio to make the most entertaining version of this movie. So this is the cut I’m proud of, but my instinct is not to make entertainment. I mean, entertainment was seventh on the list of The Witch and fifteenth on The Lighthouse. It was difficult but needed. It would’ve been a worse film in the end.”

Based on the rave reviews, it’s clear that Eggers retained authorial control over The Northman, because it’s one of the most unique and distinctive big budget Hollywood productions to come along in a very long time.