Calculating the success or failure of a movie extends beyond simply looking at how much money it makes. Several vital factors play a role in how well a film does, and that is something that Guillermo del Toro has had to cope with throughout his career. In fact, while recently talking about his 2015 gothic horror love story, Crimson Peak, del Toro explained that the film ultimately failed at the box office because of its relatively high $50 million budget. The Shape of Water's director said:
If I'd done Crimson Peak for $25 million, the movie would have been a success because it made $75 million. But because I made it for $50 million, it wasn't a success because it needed to do $150 million.
A movie like Crimson Peak may have technically grossed $25 million more than the budget, but that figure only factors in how much it costs to shoot the movie. Between marketing costs and countless other elements, a movie needs to clear far more than its production budget in order to break even. Crimson Peak has arguably developed a cult following since its theatrical run (even Stephen King raved about it), but its high price tag basically made it impossible for the film to achieve mainstream financial success.
That tricky equation of budget size highlighted in Guillermo del Toro's interview with Deadline is something that he has become all too familiar with over the course of his career. This phenomenon is perhaps most notable in the $411 million worldwide gross for his $190 million Pacific Rim. Like Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim is a film that has developed a rabid fanbase, and it will even receive a sequel called Pacific Rim: Uprising in 2018, but compared to other 2013 movies like Iron Man 3 or Man of Steel, it didn't become a full-blown hit.
This issue even reared its head on Guillermo del Toro's most recent film, The Shape of Water, which cost a fraction of his Crimson Peak budget. Specifically, del Toro planned to make The Shape of Water for $12 million in black and white, but Fox Searchlight offered him a budget of $19.6 million to produce the film in color. That figure is reportedly shoestring compared to what he managed to accomplish, so for many fans of del Toro's work, hope remains high that it can make enough money in its theatrical run to achieve mainstream success.
On that note, make sure to catch Guillermo del Toro's work on The Shape of Water, which is now in theaters.