'Mountains of Madness' is Kaput; del Toro Moving on to 'Pacific Rim'

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 12:39 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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'Mountains of Madness' is Kaput; del Toro Moving on to 'Pacific Rim'

Despite being one of the most sought after directors on the planet, Guillermo del Toro can't seem to get a film into production lately.  He spent months on Lord of The Rings prequel The Hobbit, which he exited when it appeared that MGM would never emerge from its financial morass and Universal seemed eager to finance del Toro's dream project: an adaptation of HP Lovecraft's novella At The Mountains of Madness.  After months of hesitation, even with the presence of producer James Cameron and star Tom Cruise, Universal has decided not to go forward with the $150 million 3D film.  Now, del Toro is moving on to direct another monster movie, Pacific Rim, for Legendary.  Read the director's thoughts on the whole aborted process.

Speaking to Deadline, del Toro was stumped as to why Universal pulled the plug so far into the production process.  He tells Mike Fleming,

"[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 story boarding, 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. One of the biggest, biggest points for me with this movie was the scope and the R, going hand in hand."

As for that R rating, del Toro says, "It was the subject of multiple conversations all the way through December."  He explains that he would not officially compromise on the rating, not to preserve blood and gore, but to ensure that the eventual film would have the requisite intensity.  He puts Moutains in the context of Are You Afraid of The Dark, which he co-wrote and produced:

"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. But I don’t want to put the PG-13 on paper, for one reason. We created Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, thinking we would be safe looking for PG-13 because we had no profanity, no sex, no gore, but we made a very intense movie in a very classical mold. And the MPAA gave it an R. They said the movie was too intense for a PG-13. The only think 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."

Reaffirming his G-status, del Toro also said,

"I’ve been offered four or five times at different studios the chance to make this movie in what I think was the wrong way. With $20 million or $30 million less than what I need, with a contractual PG-13, and I don’t want to do it that way."

After two huge movies that failed to leave dry dock with del Toro at the helm, he's eager to get a picture into actual production.  His next project, Pacific Rim, is already in pre-production and is scheduled to shoot in September for a Summer 2013 release.  In today's announcement, the director expressed his enthusiasm for his new monster extravaganza:

"We started developing PAC RIM a while ago with the mad passion and enthusiasm of a project unwatched and unchecked by politics or comparisons. We designed and shepherded the movie we want to make. We start shooting in September and we hit the ground running because we are so in sync. My partnership with Legendary represents, both in scale and creative demands, a huge step forward for me."

Following Pacific Rim, however, del Toro still hopes to pick up again with his dream film.  On finding another studio for At The Mountains of Madness, he says,

"We were gauging interest and there was interest, very serious interest, but nothing that could happen before Universal names the terms in which they would allow us to try and set it up somewhere else. That is my hope right now that they just allow us to seek a home for this. It will remain a timely premise for years to come, so I don’t have to do it next month. I know it’s not an easy proposition. It is, if you have faith. I think a studio needs to fully believe in that."

It's a bummer that, even with the Cameron-Cruise juice behind it, At The Mountains of Madness isn't happening just yet, particularly after reports on Monday implied that it was set to shoot in June.  Nonetheless, the director's clearly determined to make the movie on his own terms, which is every shade of encouraging.

If you're so inclined, you can read At The Mountains of Madness, along with the rest of Lovecraft's work, over at Project Gutenberg.  And if you have the time, read this remarkably in-depth profile of del Toro and his work on The Hobbit and Madness from The New Yorker.

So I'll ask again, do you think we'll ever get to see Guillermo del Toro unleash his mad, Lovecraftian vision?

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