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Like many of you, I was upset to learn on Monday night that Guillermo Del Toro's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness would not be moving forward and was, in the words of the director, "dead." Debates raged across the internet about whether or not it was understandable that Universal would turn down the project, and things got fairly heated. The truth is, however, that the whole story wasn't available yet. Yes, we knew that the attempt to make the film was unsuccessful and we had an idea of what was going on behind the scenes, but it was all only speculation. Now we have facts.
Deadline recently had the chance to interview Del Toro about the goings on at Universal regarding the project, and the Mexican director was more than willing to explain what happened. For starters, it would seem that the biggest hold up for the project was not the budget, but, in fact, the rating. Said Del Toro, it was Universal who actually set the budget for the project and it was a number that he was able to reach, but that he wouldn't budge when it came to the restricted label. But before you jump to the assumption that he wanted to pump the film up with blood and cursing, the reality is that he just wanted to make an intense film.
"I think the R should be worn like a badge of merit in promoting the movie. To say, this is not a gory movie, not a movie full of profanity or violence, but it’s a really intense movie. It’s all what you do with what you’re given."Del Toro knew that the movie would have to be rated R when a film that he produced, Don't Be Afraid of The Dark, was given the same label despite including "no profanity, no sex, [and] no gore." While the MPAA could have ultimately decided to give At The Mountains of Madness a PG-13 label for the reasons listed above, the director didn't want PG-13 "on paper."
So if At The Mountains of Madness isn't next, what is? The answer is another epic monster film called Pacific Rim at Legendary Pictures. While Del Toro said that "God laughs as we make plans," the studio has confirmed via press release to Deadline that the director has signed on. Though he couldn't say much about the project, Del Toro did say, "The scope and imagination that have been outlined in it are absolutely appealing to [him]." The film will go into production in September of the this year and will be released in the summer of 2013.
So what of the future for the Lovecraft adaptation? Sadly it doesn't sound that great. The director has spoken with other studios, saying four or five of them have actually made offers, but they want to make the movie "the wrong way." In addition to wanting a contract with PG-13, they also wanted to cut $20-30 million off the budget, something he is unwilling to do. He has also spoken with proposed star Tom Cruise, however, who told him, "Let’s keep going, let’s make this movie down the road."
While I hope that someday a studio will be willing to take the risk and let Guillermo Del Toro make this movie right, I'm also not going to start holding my breath. As much as I want to see the film get made I also see it from the studio's standpoint. Let's just hope that Pacific Rim is awesome - and with Del Toro at the helm, there's a very good chance it will be.