A few weeks ago the news hit the trades that Guillermo del Toro ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ feature film had collapsed at Universal. This marks the second film that the director has had problems actually beginning principal photography in just under a year. Some ten months ago he passed on directing The Hobbit due to its now-infamous production delays. The Pan’s Labyrinth creator has opened up about just what happened with the ‘Mountains’ adaptation , saying that he will finally be behind the camera again this fall, on Pacific Rim.
With James Cameron producing, del Toro was poised to bring author H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness into a $150 million 3D film with Tom Cruise in the lead. It’s a project that should of been a no brainer for the studio, but of course the marketing department is most likely scared to death of a film like this. They really don’t see potential of this kind of material I figure. With what Guillermo has done with meager budgets and ‘out there’ material before is amazing. I was really looking forward to this film and seeing what Del Toro could do with a proper tent poll budget. Now we can only read about what could have been and hope some day that the project is resurrected by a brave studio head and Lovecraft is brought to the screen in all his glory.
Deadline sat down for a Q&A session with del Toro, in which the filmmaker admitted that he doesn’t know exactly why his Mountains of Madness collapsed:
“I haven’t had a face to face with [Universal chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chair Donna Langley] . We’ve exchanged a few phone calls. In my mind, we were given the parameters of a budget and screenplay, and I was given the chance by the studio to create a visual presentation. They were blown away by the visual presentation, they openly admitted to loving the screenplay, saying it was dead on. And we hit the target on the budget they gave us, not a figure I arrived at.
“This came after months and months of storyboarding, haggling with VFX companies, and bringing down the budget number. The week before the decision, I was scouting in the border of Canada and Alaska. We were a week away from opening offices in Toronto. We were crewed up, and frankly, I am as puzzled as most people are.”
The del Toro-produced remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark will finally arrive in theaters this August, and he (del Toro) describes that as being the sort of R-Rated “very intense movie [made] in a very classical mold” that he was aiming for with Mountains of Madness. An R-Rating for the Lovecraft adaptation was very much a deal-breaker for him too, according to del Toro. He seems aware that this may have contributed to the project’s termination, but points out that he’d made his feelings on the matter quite clear to studio heads:
“Ultimately, I think the MPAA could rule the movie PG-13 because the movie and the book are not gory. If that is the outcome, fine… The only thing I know about ‘Mountains’ is, I do not want it to be bloody, I do not want it to be crass, but I want it to be as intense as possible. And those discussions were had in the open. Everyone knew this was my position, that I knew I was asking the chance for the movie to be what it needs to be. I don’t think it’s a good idea to relinquish that on paper.”
Fans of del Toro can rejoice in the news that his next directorial effort, Pacific Rim, is set to begin principal photography this September, with Legendary Pictures looking at a Summer 2013 release. While directors lips were pretty much sealed about the picture – which is officially described as being a futuristic sci-fi thriller in which Earth must defend itself against attacking creatures – he did offer the following tidbit:
“People got it confused with the ‘Godzilla’ movie a few months ago but we cleared that up. I can say the scope and imagination that have been outlined in it are absolutely appealing to me. I cannot say more, it’s not the time.”
Well I guess Pacific Rim sounds interesting, anything that del Toro directs I’m there to check out. It really is a bummer that the Lovecraft epic will have to wait till a future date. Here’s hoping sooner than later.
Till Next Time. Stay Tuned.