Landing The Doctor Strange Director Gig Was A Pricey Process For Scott Derrickson

Scott Derrickson really wanted to direct "Doctor Strange." No, seriously. The filmmaker who is known for directing horror movies such as "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and "Sinister" helmed the Sorcerer Supreme's debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a former gifted surgeon who gets trained in the mystical arts after a car crash leaves his hands scarred, shaking, and unfit for surgery.

In 2016, "Doctor Strange" opened to favorable reviews from both fans and critics, and itt was unlike anything we'd seen in the MCU before. It not be the best Marvel film, but it is arguably the best-looking one. Its mind-bending, physics-defying, psychedelic visuals are trippy, to say the least, and the film's depiction of a kaleidoscopic New York City is an incredible visual experience. 

But "Doctor Strange" had a long journey from its planning stages to its release. Benedict Cumberbatch wasn't always going to be Doctor Strange, and Scott Derrickson wasn't always going to be at the helm. In fact, in order to convince Marvel Studios that he was the right guy for the job, Derrickson went all out, spending an obnoxious amount of money (out of his pocket!) to get the gig.

Scott Derrickson wanted Doctor Strange so badly

Scott Derrickson wasn't the only filmmaker in the running to direct "Doctor Strange." Marvel Studios was considering two other directors: Jonathan Levine ("Warm Bodies" and "50/50") and Mark Andrews (Pixar's "Brave"). But Derrickson eventually got the job because his efforts to woo Marvel Studios paid off.

Derrickson's path to landing his first Marvel Studios gig wasn't easy. He spent a lot of money planning the film, including designing an animatic of a 12-page scene of Doctor Strange's astral fight before he's stabbed and needs Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) to save him. Here's a refresher:

The director also created concept art for other sequences in the movie to show the studio executives at Marvel his vision for the film. Derrickson explained to Collider:

"I spent a lot more money than was reasonable to get the job... I designed several set pieces. The one that's in the movie, it was a 12-page scene of the astral fight with Rachel McAdams saving his life [based on a scene from the comic Doctor Strange: The Oath]. So I wrote a 12-page version of that scene, and then storyboarded the whole thing, and then created what's called an animatic which is a moving storyboard. And then I also created a whole bunch of concept art for other sequences in the movie to try to give an example of what I wanted the visuals to be like."

Don't worry, Derrickson got his money back

Derrickson also revealed (via Yahoo) that he hired professional storyboard artists and did a 90-minute presentation on the film at Marvel Studios. Derrickson's concept art and set pieces ended up all being a part of the film, and that turned out to be a lucrative move for the filmmaker. Thankfully, he was paid back every penny when he landed the job. The director explained:

"And, the great thing is though, when I got the job, they had to buy all of it from me, because one of the set pieces in the middle of the movie was the scene I wrote, and they needed to own everything because a lot of it ended up being the movie we made, so I got all my money back. I was committed. I was going to outspend every competing director."

Derrickson might also be the reason behind Benedict Cumberbatch's casting. From the beginning, the filmmaker was confident he wanted the "Sherlock" star to fill the role. It must have been destiny, because despite the actor's scheduling conflicts and his theatre commitments, he was ultimately cast in the role and has appeared as Doctor Strange in the MCU ever since!

Cumberbatch will be next seen in the film's highly-anticipated sequel "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." However, Scott Derrickson was replaced by Sam Raimi (who, of course, helmed the original "Spider-Man" trilogy) since "The Black Phone" ended up taking up the former's time. The rest of the cast includes Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, Benedict Wong as Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, and Xochitl Gomez in her MCU debut as America Chavez, among others. 

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" will release worldwide on May 6, 2022.