With a budget confirmed to be hovering around the $70 million mark, The Northman is almost five times as expensive as Robert Eggers’ The Witch and The Lighthouse combined, so it’s understandable that the studio would be keeping a closer eye on the movie’s progress than the director may have been accustomed to.
A brutal, uncompromising, and blood-soaked historical revenge thriller hardly sounds like the sort of project that’s easy to sell to the masses, especially when adult-skewing fare continues to struggle at the box office, but Eggers has flat-out denied that the final cut was taken out of his hands.
While the filmmaker did previously admit that people above his pay grade had gotten involved in post-production, he sought to clarify his comments in a recent interview with The Guardian.
“I hadn’t had to do test screenings before. My first two films were all tested for marketing, but I didn’t have to change anything. So this was new, and as much as I didn’t like that process, I did learn something from it. But more than that, this is the film I wanted to make. This is my director’s cut.
The studio pressure made the film what I originally pitched to them, which was the most entertaining Robert Eggers movie I could make. Honestly, without their pressure, I couldn’t have done that. It’s hard for me to tell a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, for goodness’s sake.”
Creative compromise is part and parcel of the Hollywood game when such vast sums of money are being thrown around, but Eggers hammering home that the version of The Northman coming to theaters hasn’t diluted his vision is encouraging to hear.