Guillermo Del Toro reveals why he's directing PACIFIC RIM; says AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS is not dead
As we reported earlier, Guillermo Del Toro is officially directing Pacific Rim for Legendary Pictures instead of At The Mountain's of Madness. Rim is a monster movie with a PG-13 rating with a script written by Travis Beacham. Since Madness fell apart there have been tons of fan speculation and some great debate. My personal favorite piece is by Drew at HitFix, which is worth a read.
Del Toro shared his thoughts and plans for the project in an interview today with Deadline. Good news for fans is that the project based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft is not dead, the director hopes to land at another studio.
There was a lot of speculation that the film had fallen apart because Tom Cruise was not locked in to star and that Universal would not pony up the $150 million price tag for the film. Here is what Del Toro had to say in response:
"Definitely, closing Tom’s deal was in their hands. He was without a doubt, absolutely in favor of being in the movie. We met extensively, both in Canada and the U.S., dozens of times. Final polishes of the screenplay met with his approval. Closing the deal is not something that was in my hands. They needed to close it corporately. As far as the movie grossing that much, obviously I’m not impartial, but I have to believe that with 3D, Tom Cruise, Jim Cameron, the scope of Lovecraft’s novel that is one his best regarded and most widely known works, I would venture that it could absolutely have been done. 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. I had to believe right along that they were betting as much as I was. I was betting essentially everything I had, in terms of leverage, betting nine months of development when I was onThe Hobbit. This was for me a do or die movie."
This project has been in the works for years and that is a big part of many fans being angry. Del Toro was reportedly supposed to have a final answer last year from Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson, but that obviously didn't happen. Here is what Del Toro said was the reason the process took so long:
"You may think I’m being glib, but I don’t know. Since the day of the decision, I haven’t had a face to face with them. We’ve exchanged a few phone calls. I 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."
Here is what Del Toro said when asked how hard the studio worked to get him to change from an R rating:
"It was the subject of multiple conversations all the way through December. The definitive answer was known in December after a big meeting, when we were given the new parameters of budget and rewrites. We proceeded over the next few months to hit those parameters."
A big question that remains to be seen is how this debacle will impact Del Toro's relationship with the studio and if he still plans to direct several of their monster movie franchises. According to Del Toro:
"That’s still unknown. We have active projects where I’m a producer there and I’m still going to pursue my year and a half or two years I have left in my time with Universal. As disappointed and heartbroken as I am, for the studio, this is a business decision."
I am happy that Del Toro is directing any film so I am going to support him in whatever film he does. That being said, here is what the director had to say about his excitement for Pacific Rim:
I can only say I was very happy to be able to develop it under the radar in many ways. 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.
Here is what Del Toro said when asked when filming would begin on Pacific Rim:
"The idea is unequivocally to start shooting in September. The terms of that will become public very soon, but the idea is to get behind the camera this year. I miss it terribly. Unfortunately for me, I have passed discreetly on a number of high profile projects last year in order to save myself for a project that I’ve been shepherding. That was Mountains, and now it seems like it’s going to bePacific Rim. In both instances, these are projects I am generating.
Universal plans to develop a Doom reboot which just goes to show that studios are more interested in brand tie-ins and sequels than original content. Here is what Del Toro had to say:
"Even if you go back to the golden days of monster movies at Universal, some of the best ones were sequels. To me, Bride of Frankenstein is in many ways superior to Frankenstein. I don’t think that in principle, a sequel or a spinoff or a movie that comes something, or a remake, should be shunned. What is really dramatic to me is that most decisions are now being taken by comps, and charts, and target quadrants. All these marketing things we inherited from a completely different system, in the 80s, it has taken hold of the entire industry. Marketers and accountants seem to be running things and less and less of the decisions are in the hands of filmmakers. There are still some filmmakers that can push through. I will say though, I count my blessings. In my time, I’ve been able to make impossible things like a big superhero movie starring Ron Perlman. Frankly, I think we’ve come so close with Mountains that to me it’s an indicator of the great possibility we will get to make it, as soon as possible. As long as the idea stays fresh and no one beats me to it, in terms of the origins of the monsters, the scope and the aspect of Antarctica where these creatures are discovered, I will continue to press forward. I’m knocking on wood. I have great partners in Jim Cameron and Lightstorm, and Don Murphy and Susan Montford, great partners in this adventure who are not giving up and not letting me give up."
Here is what Del Toro said when asked if he planned to direct At The Mountains of Madness after Pacific Rim:
"I have learned in the last few years that God laughs as we make plans. The beauty of it is, in the last few days, I spoke to Tom, who has been incredibly supportive and who said, ‘Let’s keep going, let’s make this movie down the road.’ He’s definitely that interested and that happy where we were creatively. So we have good legs to travel on, if the time and the opportunity present itself. But we’re going to fight for that to happen. 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."
He goes on to share why the R-rating is must for him:
"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. 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."
So there you have it folks! What are your thoughts?