Welcome to Marwen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Welcome to Marwen
A man dressed as a World War 2 pilot. A doll sized replica is seated beside him and look up at him.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Zemeckis
Screenplay by
Produced by
CinematographyC. Kim Miles
Edited byJeremiah O'Driscoll
Music byAlan Silvestri
Distributed byUniversal Pictures[1]
Release date
  • December 21, 2018 (2018-12-21) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$39–50 million[3][4]
Box office$13.1 million[3]

Welcome to Marwen is a 2018 American drama film[5] 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 in the lead role, 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.

The film was released by Universal Pictures on December 21, 2018. Critics praised the animated segments and performances, particularly Carell's, but criticized the inconsistent tone and screenplay. The film grossed only $13 million worldwide, becoming a box-office bomb.


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 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 post-traumatic 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.[6]

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. The main villain of Marwen Dejah Thoris, a teal-haired Belgian witch obsessed with Hogie, to the point where she would send any woman who gets too close to him 15,000,000 lightyears into the future with her magic.

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 Judge Martha J. Harter 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 both a Nazi spy and the personification of Mark's addiction to the pills that he thought were helping him, but were actually hurting him. Hogie saves Mark by vanquishing Dejah 15,000,000 lightyears into the future, never to be seen again. Mark pours the pills down the sink and vows to break his addiction to them.

Mark attends the rescheduled hearing and delivers his statement. That evening he also 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.


Most of the cast appears both as characters in the "real world", and as characters in the Marwen world that Mark created, using motion-capture and lending their voice for the animated character.

Actor Real World Character
Marwen Character
(Voice and Motion-Capture)
Steve Carell Mark Hogancamp, an aspiring artist who was beaten nearly to death by five men for expressing his fetish for women's shoes, and creates a miniature village called Marwen (later called Marwencol). Cap'n Hogie, a heroic pilot.
Leslie Mann Nicol, Mark's new neighbor. A new addition to the village who starts a romance with Hogie.
Diane Kruger None, but Dejah's revealed to be the personification of Mark's addiction to the pills he takes. Deja Thoris, the Belgian Witch of Marwen who curses Hogie and is secretly a Nazi spy.
Merritt Wever 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. A member of Hogie's team who uses heavy artillery.
Janelle Monáe Julie, a social worker who befriends Mark while in rehab. G.I. Julie, a veteran in Hogie's team.
Eiza González Carlala, Mark's friend at the bar where he has a part-time job. A member of Hogie's team who drives their jeep.
Gwendoline Christie Anna, Mark's Russian caretaker. A Soviet member of Hogie's team.
Leslie Zemeckis Suzette, Mark's favorite actress. A French member of Hogie's team.
Siobhan Williams Elsa, a French milkmaid who Hogie saves. He brings her into his team, but she is soon killed by a Nazi.
Neil Jackson Kurt, Nicol's rough and poorly mannered ex-boyfriend. Kurt believes Mark is a white supremacist pedophile after seeing a Nazi soldier doll in the Marwen scene in Mark's front yard. General Meyer, a member of the Schutzstaffel in Marwen.
Falk Hentschel Louis, one of the white supremacists that assaulted Mark. Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Topf, Deja Thoris's henchman in Marwen and a Nazi commander.
Matt O'Leary Carl, one of the white supremacists that assaulted Mark. Lt. Benz, a Nazi soldier in Marwen.
Nikolai Witschl Rudy, one of the white supremacists that assaulted Mark. Rudolph, a Nazi soldier in Marwen.
Patrick Roccas Stevie, one of the white supremacists that assaulted Mark. Stefan, a Nazi soldier in Marwen.
Alexander Lowe Vern, one of the white supremacists that assaulted Mark. Werner, a Nazi soldier in Marwen.
Eric Keenleyside Larry, Mark's friend. A Marwen Friar.
Stefanie von Pfetten Wendy, a woman who worked at the bar and found Mark after he had been beaten. Mark named MARWEN by combining the names MARk and WENdy.
(Wendy does not appear in the film in the "real world", only referenced.)
Wendy, a woman who once saved Cap'n Hogie, but has been gone from Marwen.
Conrad Coates Demaryius Johnson, Mark's attorney.
Veena Sood Judge Martha J. Harter, the judge who oversees the hearing of the white supremacists who attacked Mark.

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.[7] On May 19, 2017, it was reported that Leslie Mann and Janelle Monáe had joined the cast,[8] and on May 23, 2017, Eiza González was also added.[9] In June 2017, Diane Kruger joined the cast to portray a villain,[10] while Gwendoline Christie had also signed on.[11] In July 2017, Merritt Wever and Neil Jackson joined the cast of the film.[12][13] On August 6, 2017, the studio hired German actor Falk Hentschel to play the role of a villain, Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Topf, a Nazi captain to a squad of SS Storm Troopers who terrify the people of Marwen.[14] On August 21, 2017, the director's wife, Leslie Zemeckis, was cast in the film;[15] she plays an actress in a pornographic film that Hogancamp watches, and her Marwen counterpart.[16]

Principal photography on the film began in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on August 14, 2017,[17][18] and was completed around October 19, 2017.[19]

In June 2018, the film was officially titled Welcome to Marwen.[20]


The film's soundtrack was scored, composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri.[21]


The film was released in the United States by Universal Pictures on December 21, 2018.[1] The studio spent $60 million on prints and advertising for the film. The original plan was to spend $120 million, but after early test screenings went poorly, costs were cut.[4]


Box office[edit]

Welcome to Marwen grossed $10.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $2.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $13.1 million, against a production budget of around $39 million.[3]

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.[22] After making $909,000 on its first day (including $190,000 from Thursday night previews), three-day weekend estimates were lowered to $3 million. The film went on to debut to $2.4 million for the weekend, 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.[23] 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.[24][4] The film made $2.2 million in its second weekend, dropping 5%.[25]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 35% based on 168 reviews and an average score of 4.9/10. 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."[26] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 40 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[27] 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."[23]

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."[28] 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."[29]

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."[30]

Glenn Garner, writing in Out, noted that "Zemeckis’ film surprisingly features a prominent and respectful depiction of Hogancamp's gender expansive dress, making it a potentially valuable form of representation for gender nonconforming viewers. It seems a missed opportunity as that detail was largely omitted from the film's marketing."[31]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
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 [32]
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
Art Directors Guild Awards February 2, 2019 Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Film Stefan Dechant Nominated
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards January 10, 2019 Best Contemporary Make-Up Ve Neill and Rosalina Da Silva Nominated
Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards April 30, 2019 CSC Award for Theatrical Feature Cinematography C. Kim Miles Nominated
Leo Awards June 4, 2019 Best Cinematography in a Motion Picture Won
Best Sound in a Motion Picture Chris Duesterdiek Won
World Soundtrack Awardas August 12, 2019 Film Composer of the Year Alan Silvestri Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d "Film releases". Variety Insight. Archived from the original on 2018-09-03. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  2. ^ a b Uhlich, Keith (December 19, 2018). "'Welcome to Marwen': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 20, 2018. Production companies: Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Perfect World Pictures, ImageMovers Productions Distributor: Universal
  3. ^ a b c "Welcome to Marwen (2018)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 24, 2018). "Why 'Welcome To Marwen' Was Unwelcome At The Box Office: Robert Zemeckis Pic To Lose Around $60M". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  5. ^ Perez, Lexy (June 20, 2018). "'Welcome to Marwen' Trailer: Steve Carell Stars in Robert Zemeckis' Heroic Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  6. ^ McClintock, Pamela (December 23, 2018). "Box Office: 'Welcome to Marwen' Bombs With $2.4M Debut, Will Lose $50M-Plus". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  7. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (April 28, 2017). "Untitled Robert Zemeckis Project Starring Steve Carell Eyes Thanksgiving 2018 Release". Deadline. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  8. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 19, 2017). "Leslie Mann, Janelle Monae Join Steve Carell in Robert Zemeckis' Next Film (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  9. ^ Kit, Borys (May 23, 2017). "'Baby Driver' Actress Eiza Gonzalez Joins Steve Carell in Robert Zemeckis Drama (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  10. ^ Kit, Borys (June 16, 2017). "Diane Kruger Joins Steve Carell in Robert Zemeckis Drama (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  11. ^ McNary, Dave (June 28, 2017). "Gwendoline Christie Joins Steve Carell in Robert Zemeckis' Drama". Variety. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  12. ^ Sneider, Jeff (July 7, 2017). "Nurse Jackie Alum Merritt Wever Joins Steve Carell In Robert Zemeckis Next Movie". The Tracking Board. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  13. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (July 31, 2017). "Universal's Untitled Robert Zemeckis Project Adds Neil Jackson". Deadline. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  14. ^ Galuppo, Mia (August 6, 2017). "Robert Zemeckis' Universal Drama Casts a Villain". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  15. ^ The Deadline Team (August 21, 2017). "Leslie Zemeckis Joins Untitled Robert Zemeckis Project Based On Docu 'Marwencol'". Deadline. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  16. ^ Topel, Fed (December 20, 2018). "Welcome to Marwen movie review: Toy story of terror". Monsters and Critics. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  17. ^ Mirchandani, Amar (August 1, 2017). "21 Movies Filming in Vancouver This August - 604 Now". 604 Now. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  18. ^ Mirchandani, Amar (August 4, 2017). "9+ Hollywood Stars You Can Catch Around Vancouver This August". 604 Now. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  19. ^ Marc, Christopher (June 25, 2017). "Robert Zemeckis' Next Film Shoots August–October In Vancouver". Ome Gaunderground. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (13 June 2018). "Film News Roundup: Laverne Cox Boards 'Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen' Documentary". Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Welcome to Marwen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Alan Silvestri on iTunes". iTunes. January 1990. Retrieved 2018-12-26.
  22. ^ McClintock, Pamela (December 18, 2018). "'Box Office Preview: 'Aquaman,' 'Mary Poppins Returns' to Lead Christmas Crush". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  23. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 26, 2018). "'Aquaman' Unwraps $22M+ On Christmas For $105M+ Cume; 'Holmes & Watson' Opens To $6M+; 'Vice' $4M+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  24. ^ Sharf, Zack (December 24, 2018). "'Welcome to Marwen' Is Universal's Second Christmas Box Office Bomb, Expected to Lose $50 Million". IndieWire. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  25. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 30, 2018). "'Aquaman' Sailing To $52M+ 2nd Weekend; $189M+ Cume Pacing Ahead Of 'Doctor Strange' & 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  26. ^ "Welcome to Marwen (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  27. ^ "Welcome to Marwen reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  28. ^ David Ehrlich (December 19, 2018). "'Welcome to Marwen' Review: Robert Zemeckis Turns Outsider Art into Hollywood Product". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  29. ^ Phillips, Michael (December 20, 2018). "'Welcome to Marwen' review: A hate crime sparks Steve Carell's fantasy world — and a seriously misjudged movie". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  30. ^ "'Welcome to Marwen': Uplifting story of a charming figure and his action figure". 20 December 2018.
  31. ^ Garner, Glenn (21 December 2018). "Welcome to Marwen Depicts Cross-Dressing with No Shame". Out Magazine. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  32. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (15 January 2019). "'Avengers,' 'Lost in Space,' 'Ready Player One' Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations".

External links[edit]