Welcome to Marwen
Welcome to Marwen is a 2018 American drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis, who co-wrote the script with Caroline Thompson. It is inspired by Jeff Malmberg's 2010 documentary Marwencol. The film stars Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monáe, Eiza González, Gwendoline Christie, Leslie Zemeckis, Siobhan Williams and Neil Jackson, and follows the true story of Mark Hogancamp, a man struggling with PTSD who, after being physically assaulted, creates a fictional village to ease his trauma.
|Welcome to Marwen|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Zemeckis|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Cinematography||C. Kim Miles|
|Edited by||Jeremiah O'Driscoll|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$12.8 million|
The film was released in the United States by Universal Pictures on December 21, 2018. Critics lamented the inconsistent tone and screenplay, although the visuals received some praise. The film was also a box office bomb, with projected losses for the studio running as much as $60 million.
A World War II warplane piloted by a doll-like figure is hit by enemy fire and forced to ditch. The pilot's shoes are burned in the forced landing and he finds women's shoes, which he wears instead. The pilot is confronted by doll-like German soldiers, who taunt him for wearing women's shoes. The Germans threaten to emasculate him, but are killed by a group of doll-like women who come to the pilot's rescue and protect him.
It is revealed that the scenario is part of an elaborate fantasy created by Mark Hogancamp, using modified fashion dolls in a model village named Marwen. Mark imagines that the dolls are alive and photographs his fantasies to help him cope with acute memory loss and posttraumatic stress disorder from a brutal attack he suffered some time earlier, when he drunkenly told a group of white supremacists about his fetish for wearing women's shoes. The dolls correspond to people that he knows in real life: himself as "Cap'n Hogie", the pilot; various female friends as his protectors; and his attackers as German Nazi soldiers. A green-haired doll named Deja Thoris is a Belgian Witch who prevents Cap'n Hogie from becoming too close with any woman.
Mark finally agrees to appear in court to deliver a victim impact statement after much coaxing from his attorney and friends, but upon seeing his attackers, he imagines them as Nazi soldiers shooting at him, and becomes terrified and flees, causing the judge to postpone the hearing.
Mark falls in love with a woman named Nicol who has just moved in across the street, whom he has added to his fantasy. Mark imagines that the doll Nicol is in love with Cap'n Hogie, and that they get married. In real life, Mark proposes marriage to Nicol, who tells him she wishes to remain only friends. Mark is distraught and contemplates suicide. In his fantasies, Nicol is shot by a Nazi, who in turn is killed by Cap'n Hogie but brought back to life, along with other Nazi soldiers, by Deja Thoris. Cap'n Hogie realizes that Deja Thoris is a Nazi spy, and Mark realizes that the pills that he thought were helping him were actually hurting him. Mark pours the pills down the sink and vows to break his addiction to them.
Mark attends the rescheduled sentencing hearing and delivers his statement. That evening Mark attends the exhibition of his work and makes a date with his friend Roberta, who is a sales clerk at the hobby store where he is a frequent customer. The film ends with a photograph of the real Mark Hogancamp, who has a successful career as a photographer.
- Steve Carell as Mark Hogancamp, an aspiring artist who was beaten up by five men for expressing his fetish with women's shoes and creates a miniature village called Marwen (later called Marwencol).
- Steve Carell also portrays Cap'n Hogie, a pilot and Hogancamp's heroic counterpart in Marwen.
- Leslie Mann as Nicol, Mark's new neighbor.
- Mann also portrays her Marwen counterpart, a new addition to the village who starts a romance with Hogie.
- Diane Kruger as Deja Thoris, the Belgian Witch of the fictional Marwen who curses Hogie and is secretly a Nazi spy.
- Merritt Wever as Roberta, a kind friend of Mark who works at the hobby shop where he buys the models and toy figurines he uses to build Marwen.
- Wever also portrays her Marwen counterpart, a member of Hogie's team who uses heavy artillery.
- Janelle Monáe as Julie, a social worker who befriends Mark while in rehab.
- Monáe also portrays her Marwen counterpart G.I. Julie, a veteran in Hogi's team.
- Eiza González as Carlala, Mark's friend at the bar where he has a part-time job.
- González also portrays her Marwen counterpart, a member of Hogi's team who drives their jeep.
- Gwendoline Christie as Anna, Mark's Russian caretaker.
- Christie also portrays her Marwen counterpart, a Soviet member of Hogi's team.
- Leslie Zemeckis as Suzette, Mark's favorite actress.
- Zemeckis also portrays her Marwen counterpart, a French member of Hogi's team.
- Siobhan Williams as Elsa
- Neil Jackson as Kurt, Nicol's rough and poorly mannered ex-boyfriend.
- Neil Jackson also portrays Major Meyer, a member of the Schutzstaffel in Marwen
- Falk Hentschel as Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Topf, Deja Thoris's henchman in Marwen and a Nazi commander
- Falk Hentschel also portrays Louis, one of the Neo-Nazis that assaulted Mark
- Matt O'Leary as Lt. Benz, a Nazi soldier in Marwen
- Matt O'Leary also portrays Carl, one of the Neo-Nazis that assaulted Mark
- Nikolai Witschl as Rudolph, a Nazi soldier in Marwen
- Nikolai Witschl also portrays Rudy, one of the Neo-Nazis that assaulted Mark
- Patrick Roccas as Stefan, a Nazi soldier in Marwen
- Patrick Roccas also portrays Stevie, one of the Neo-Nazis that assaulted Mark
- Alexander Lowe as Werner, a Nazi soldier in Marwen
- Alexander Lowe also portrays Vern, one of the Neo-Nazis that assaulted Mark
- Eric Keenleyside as Larry
- Eric Keenleyside also portrays a Friar
- Stefanie von Pfetten as Wendy
- Conrad Coates as Demaryius Johnson
- Veena Sood as Judge Martha J. Harter
Ulster County Sheriffs portrayed by Fraser Aitcheson, Trevor Jones, Brad Kelly, Jeff Sanca, and Patrick Sabongui.
On April 28, 2017, it was announced that Robert Zemeckis would next direct an untitled drama film that would star Steve Carell. On May 19, 2017, it was announced that Leslie Mann and Janelle Monáe had joined the cast. On May 23, 2017, Eiza González joined the cast. In June 2017, it was reported that Diane Kruger had joined the cast to portray the villain  while Gwendoline Christie also joined the cast. In July 2017, Merritt Wever and Neil Jackson joined the cast of the film. On August 6, 2017, the studio hired a German actor Falk Hentschel to play the role of a villain, as Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Topf, a Nazi captain to a squad of SS Storm Troopers who terrify the people of Belgium. On August 21, 2017, the director's wife, Leslie Zemeckis, was cast in the film for an unspecified role; she plays an actress in a pornographic film that Hogancamp watches.
In June 2018, the film was officially titled Welcome to Marwen.
The first trailer was released on June 20, 2018. The film was released in the United States by Universal Pictures on December 21, 2018. The studio spent $60 million on promotion and advertisements for the film. The original plan was to spend $120 million on promoting, but after early test screenings went poorly, the costs were cut.
Welcome to Marwen grossed $10.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $2 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $12.8 million, against a production budget of around $39 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Aquaman, Second Act and Bumblebee, and was projected to gross $7–9 million from 1,900 theaters over its five-day opening weekend. After making just $909,000 on its first day (including $190,000 from Thursday night previews), three-day weekend estimates were lowered to $3 million. It went on to debut to $2.4 million, finishing ninth and marking the worst opening of Zemeckis' career. It then made $490,000 on Monday and $1.3 million on Christmas Day for an "awful" five-day total gross of $4.1 million. Following its low opening, insiders estimated the film would lose Universal $50–60 million, the second straight week the studio released a film that was a box-office bomb following Mortal Engines. The film made $2.2 million in its second weekend, dropping 5%.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 33% based on 149 reviews and an average rating of 4.92/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Welcome to Marwen has dazzling effects and a sadly compelling story, but the movie's disjointed feel and clumsy screenplay make this invitation easy to decline." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 40 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it a 57% overall positive score and a 37% "definite recommend".
Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave the film a "C" and wrote, "In trying to celebrate the healing powers of art, Zemeckis has created a sometimes fun, often morbidly compelling, and always ill-advised testament to the ways in which those healing powers can create problems of their own." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars and said, "The way Zemeckis shapes these stop-motion animation scenes, they're meant to be exciting, funny, scary, a little of everything. But they whack the movie completely off-kilter. We lose the strange, quiet intimacy of Hogancamp's careful manipulation of this world. The real-life scenes don’t feel like Hogancamp's real life; they feel like a Hollywood falsification of it, despite Carell's and Mann's valiant efforts."
Contrarily, Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun-Times praised the film, giving it 3.5/4 stars and saying, "Leave it to the innovative and greatly skilled veteran director Robert Zemeckis to deliver a beautiful and endearingly eccentric movie based on the life and the imagination of Mark Hogancamp. And leave it to the chameleon everyman Steve Carell to deliver a subtle, layered, empathetic and memorable portrayal of Mark — both the man and the doll."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||February 5, 2019||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature||Kevin Baillie, Sandra Scott, Seth Hill, Marc Chu, James Paradis||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project||C. Kim Miles, Matthew Ward, Ryan Beagan, Marc Chu for "Town of Marwen"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature||Woei Lee, Saul Galbiati, Max Besner, Thai-Son Doan||Nominated|
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Production companies: Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Perfect World Pictures, ImageMovers Productions Distributor: Universal
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