Major Grom, the plague doctor: behind the scenes (very) complicated

A year to find a new actor

Before the film on Netflix, adapted from Russian comics by Artiom Gabrelianov, Major Grom: The Plague Doctor, was entitled to a first adaptation, an eponymous short film, released in 2017. The idea was to give the public a taste before developing the story into a feature film. The project was well received, but at the time of the production of the film, everything got complicated. Already, the main actor of the short film, Alexander Gorbatov, did not wish to take over the role of Igor Grom for lack of interest in the long version of Major Grom: The Plague Doctor.

It took a year to find a replacement for him: “We couldn’t even imagine that it was so hard to find a handsome, tall and smart man in Russia“, explained screenwriter Roman Kotkov. The choice of the team therefore fell on Tikhon Zhiznevsky, who had to lose 10 kilograms for the role and undergo athletic training with professionals in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Creative disagreements

Once the problem of the main actor was solved, another came to be added to the development of the project. Some media have explained that Bubble Studios, the production company of the film, finally wanted to focus on the international scene with American actors, New York as the filming location instead of Saint Petersburg or even by changing the name of Igor Grom to Harry Thunder. The director Vladimir Besedin (it is the same as for the short film), the writers and the producers then opposed this idea, preferring to address a predominantly Russian audience.

The production was therefore able to continue calmly until the creative disagreements between Vladimir Besedin, the writers and the creative team: the director wanted to add action to the film while the creative team preferred to focus on the story. Producer Mikhail Kitaev then decided to rework the script. The disagreements being more and more numerous, the project stopped for several weeks before resuming with … a new team.

Change of director

Meanwhile, director Vladimir Besedin resigned, but a replacement was quickly found. Oleg Trofim then took over the reins of Major Grom: The Plague Doctor. Despite this new arrival, there were still disagreements at the level of the scenario: the political content, present in the comic book was considered too important. This whole part has therefore been deleted. Substantial changes have also been made to the script.

Initially, the film was due to be released in theaters in 2019, but with all these problems, its arrival in theaters has not stopped being postponed: filming in Russia ended only in December 2019. Finally, Major Grom: The Plague Doctor was uploaded to Netflix in 2021. It will therefore have taken 4 years in total for the feature film to be successful. Patience rewarded since he is still in the top 10 on the platform.

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