Disney Was So Desperate To Hire This Actor, They Delayed Its Release, Agreed to Lose Money

Indiana Jones, The Little Mermaid, Doctor Strange, Elemental, Haunted Mansion and Beauty and the Beast; benedict-cumberbatch-doctor-strange
Images Credit: Disney

One Disney movie’s release was delayed by months just so that the company could hire the actor they wanted as the lead. 

One of the reasons that the Walt Disney Company has as wide a portfolio of films as it does is because of the number of companies it’s acquired over the years (particularly during Disney CEO Bob Iger’s tenure). 

One of Disney’s most profitable acquisitions is Marvel Studios, which was previously helmed by Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter. Fans who followed the Disney layoffs from last year will remember him—he was unceremoniously let go along with other senior executives.  

marvel studios avengers doctor strange black widow iron man thor captain america

Credit: Marvel Studios

Within each “department,” if you will, creatives are expected to innovate and continue to push the boundaries of what guests know and accept to be the Disney quality and standard of filmmaking. 

At the time of its release, one Marvel movie was hailed for its “overtly mystical story.” We’re talking, of course, of Doctor Strange (2016). 

The film follows the journey of neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, who, after a freak accident, loses his ability to use his hands, therefore also losing his career. He sets out in search of a mystic only known as the Ancient One and, through his interactions with her, ends up becoming a powerful sorcerer. 

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness / Credit: Marvel Studios

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as the lead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film, and he made waves in the role. Fans agree that the Englishman was absolutely the right actor for the role.

One expressed online, “Scott Derrickson cooked so hard with the first Doctor Strange movie and Benedict. He gave us one of the greatest castings ever.”

Another wrote, “They definitely made the right choice. One of the best castings in the MCU which is full of great castings.”

However, what many fans didn’t know is that Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson moved heaven and earth to make sure Benedict Cumberbatch would play the neurosurgeon turned sorcerer. 

While they had also been considering Joaquin Phoenix for the role, Derrickson was very particular about Cumberbatch being cast. 

He explained, “I wanted Benedict… I flew all the way to London to try to talk him into doing it. What it came down to was that it was a summer movie, and Benedict had committed to doing Hamlet in London theater.” 

marvel studios doctor strange in the multiverse of madness $100 over budget

Credit: Marvel Studios

However, as more casting discussions fell through and the company returned once more to Cumberbatch, Derrickson asked Kevin Feige if they could accommodate the British actor’s schedule. 

“I just went back to Kevin [Feige] and I just said, ‘We have to move the date because it’s got to be Benedict.’ Kevin went to Bob Iger and Alan Horn, and told them what I said. To their credit, they moved the date and it became a fall movie.”

Some have even posited that Disney was prepared for the movie to lose money by pushing its release from the summer to the fall. Of course, that didn’t turn out to be the case, and Doctor Strange still remains, to this day, one of Disney’s most successful movies, especially for one within the MCU.

marvel studios doctor strange in the multiverse of madness $100 over budget

Credit: Marvel Studios

Derrickson commented, “In the end, it came down to the heads of Disney knowing they would make less money on the movie, but letting me as the director have the right actor for the movie,” 

He concluded, “I just told them, I said, ‘It has to be him. There’s no one else who’s going to do what he can do in this role.'” 

Do you think Benedict Cumberbatch was the right actor for the role of Stephen Strange? Let Disney Dining know in the comments!

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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