While under Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter, Marvel Studios became notorious for it's penny pinching ways. But how far did they go to save a buck? According to Joss Whedon, he's made more money from his internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog than he did from directing the first Marvel's The Avengers. He disclosed this information during this past Saturday night's Dr. Horrible reunion. But is what he says true?
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was an independently financed project that he put together back in 2008, and it has been a cult hit ever since with a strong army of fans. Whedon noted that writing and directing Marvel's The Avengers netted him far less than the 45-minute video starring Neil Patrick Harris as the title character. The actor joined the director, along with Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion to celebrate the 7 year anniversary of Dr. Horrible, which kicked off Paleyfest NY at the Paley Center for Media.
This has shocked some fans, especially considering The Avengers is the 4th highest grossing movie of all time, and has grossed more than $600 million domestically, pulling in a staggering $1.5 billion worldwide. Joss Whedon didn't say how much he made from writing and directing Marvel's The Avengers, or how much Dr. Horrible has racked in since it first launched in 2008. But inquiring minds certainly want to know more.
The Dr. Horrible reunion saw the four principle players sharing their memories from the DIY production. The musical served as a pioneering moment for homemade content produced specifically for the internet. Neil Patrick Harris was the first to say how much he's enjoyed the purity of its success. And that 'it just was what it was'. None of the actors would disclose how much they made off the project, either.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog features Neil Patrick Harris as the title super villain. The whole thing came about during the 2007-2008 writers' strike. The title came to Joss Whedon in what he describes as 'one big burst'. The director collaborated with his brothers Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon on the script, music and lyrics. His sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen was also heavily involved in the production process.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog debuted five months after it had been conceived, and it was released on iTunes and Hulu in three acts that were spread across three nights in July 2008. The project was later released on DVD, and even aired on The CW. Joss Whedon claims that he tried to secure traditional Hollywood backing for the short, but no one wanted to touch it. He later decided to fully fund it from his own bank account, calling it his mid-life crisis project.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog had a very skeletal crew, and there was a lot of improvising in every department of production. Most of the musical sequences were filmed with a crew member holding a boom box near an actor as they lip-synched. At the time, the whole enterprise seemed like a giant gamble. But in the long run, it has certainly paid off. The confidence Joss Whedon gained from making the Internet musical helped give him the push he needed to make his indie Shakespeare drama Much Ado About Nothing, which he shot and released after Marvel's The Avengers proved to be a gargantuan success.
At this time, there are no immediate plans for a Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog sequel. While the creative team began crafting a script and songs for the inevitable follow-up, Joss Whedon claims he got swallowed up by Marvel. The director did not comment on whether Avengers: Age of Ultron was also less lucrative than his self-financed musical.