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Guillermo del Toro is a filmmaker whose plate is often too small for the many projects he piles on it, and it’s not surprising that the Victorian-era steampunk fantasy feature A Killing on Carnival Row fell by the wayside over the years. But del Toro has once again attached himself to the project, now simply called Carnival Row, and he’s developing it with Legendary through the burgeoning Amazon Studios as the streaming-centric company’s most genre-mashing effort yet.
Detective noir gets magical for Carnival Row, which takes place in a world where humans are quite used to living among fairies and other mythical creatures. When it was meant to be a feature, the central story revolved around a detective tracking down a serial killer who is murdering non-humans, and soon finds himself as the case’s number one suspect. That story is expected to be broadened and expanded though, if it become a full series.
It truly sounds like Carnival Row will be better off on the small screen, which del Toro also believes is the better medium for it. Here’s how he put it to THR, and I’m pretty sure no one else has ever said this exact sentence before.
”We always had too many ideas to fit into the feature. We can now really focus on the world and the politics of what it is to be a magical being in a Victorian steampunk atmosphere where you are seen as a lesser being.”
Normally known for getting series made through their pilot season process, Amazon might handle Carnival Row a little differently, as its size and scale make it a pretty expensive risk if the pilot wouldn’t work out. Travis Beacham, del Toro and The 4400 creator René Echevarria are writing the first script, and del Toro will indeed direct the pilot later this spring, once he’s completely finished with his gothic horror Crimson Peak. We can probably expect to hear something more official for it by then.
Carnival Row started life as a script written in 2005 by Beacham, who would later work with del Toro on the screenplay for Pacific Rim (and also its upcoming sequel). New Line picked it up, which is when del Toro hopped on, but then development hell set in, and he left to work on other things. Interview with the Vampire director Neil Jordan was attached for a while, but then Warner Bros. ate up New Line and the project floated away, with the rights reverting back to Beacham. Immortals director Tarsem Singh showed interest in 2011, but no studio wanted to put up the money to make it with him. Which is a shame, since his visual approach would have merged well with this world.
Having brought his own co-written novel to TV with FX’s The Strain, del Toro is quite possibly in the most prolific period of his career. Are you guys ready for Carnival Row?