Guillermo del Toro Says Universal Wants Him to Do FRANKENSTEIN; Would Like to See the Universal Monster Universe Done as Period Movies

     July 17, 2014


Though there are a number of projects that filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has been attached to over the years, one of the biggest and most promising is FrankensteinMary Shelley’s novel is del Toro’s favorite book of all time, and he’s been very vocal about his passion for adapting the material.  He’s spoken of plans to have Doug Jones fill the Monster role and there have been various updates every now and then, but del Toro has been so busy with other projects (At the Mountains of Madness, The Hobbit, Pacific Rim, etc.) that Frankenstein hasn’t yet come to pass.

Steve recently took part in an extremely lengthy and candid interview with del Toro on the set of his next film, Crimson Peak, and del Toro touched on his planned Frankenstein adaptation, revealing that Universal Pictures chairperson Donna Langley has approached him a few times about getting it going.  Del Toro says he hasn’t made it yet because he’s “a chicken shit,” but added that when he does do Frankenstein (and also hopefully Bride of Frankenstein), he’ll drop everything else for three years to focus entirely on the monster pic.  Hit the jump for more, including del Toro’s thoughts on how he would tackle a new Universal Monster Movie Universe.

frankenstein-posterBoth Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak were made with Legendary Pictures, and del Toro looks to have found a solid fit for his genre material with the production studio, which is now housed at Universal Pictures.  Given that Universal holds all the rights to the classic monsters, del Toro was asked on set if he’s been thinking about diving into some of those properties:

“I would love to. I mean, look, I would love to do Frankenstein and Bride, or Frankenstein for sure, but it really, Frankenstein has been—I’ve been really, really, afraid.  Donna [Langley] has approached me a few times to start it now and I’m always like, you know, it’s like the dream project so I’m a little, I’m a chicken shit, you know? When I do it, I need to do it. Like, if I do Frankenstein, I literally would stop everything, and I’m going to a sabbatical of three years, just to write that. It’s not something that’s gonna just flow, like second nature. It’s my favorite book in history. [Laughs]”

When asked to clarify if he meant that he would do both Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, del Toro answered, “Yeah, I would like to.”  His current schedule is quite busy with finishing post-production on Crimson Peak, beginning pre-production on Pacific Rim 2, and firming up a small-scale film that he intends to shoot at the beginning of 2015, but one imagines he might start thinking about clearing his post-Pacific Rim 2 schedule if Universal is keen on getting Frankenstein going.

universal-monstersIt was recently announced that screenwriters/producers Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious franchise) and Alex Kurtzman (TransformersThe Amazing Spider-Man 2) will be overseeing an interconnected series of Universal monster films for the studio.  It’s unclear if del Toro knew of these plans during the time of this interview, but he offered his thoughts on the best way to tackle the Universal Monster Movie Universe:

“I think that it’s a great universe to develop. I personally think that they should all be period movies. I would love to see Creature from the Black Lagoon in Victorian England with the Victorian exploration, with a balloon and steam riverboats. I would love to see The Hunchback, Phantom, you know?”

With comic book movies all the rage at the moment, the superhero franchises are starting to bleed together.  What better palate cleanser than a moody, period-set series of Universal Monsters films?  Now that Legendary is under the Universal umbrella, hopefully del Toro and Legendary CEO Thomas Tull have at least some say in the creative direction of this new series of monster movies.

  • Steven

    I like del Toro, but I feel like everyone always gets the Frankenstein story wrong. The monster isn’t the creature, Dr. Frankenstein is the monster. The entire story is about whether or not humans should play God. A new Frankenstein movie should be used to address modern day issues such as the ethics of genetic engineering, cloning, stem cell, etc. And I always feel like everyone fails at the social and scientific commentary of the story.

    • 80sRobot

      I agree, but Universal wants a “franchise.” Meaning, the creature will need to be a cool action figure.

      So far the most faithful interpretation of the Frankenstein novel I’ve seen is on the Showtime series Penny Dreadful.

      • Steven

        I know Universal wants a franchise, which is sad that such a rich story will suffer because of it. Jurassic Park the novel was very much inspired by Frankenstein, but for the movie they turned it mostly into a straight up adventure movie, with a few philosophical musings. Hopefully Universal can reverse that with Jurassic World.
        I haven’t seen Penny Dreadful yet because I don’t have Showtime, but it’s on my list. When I first heard about it, it sounded like a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen rip-off. Is that true, or is it original in it’s own way?

      • 80sRobot

        On the surface Penny Dreadful may seem similar to League but it’s different, though hard to describe… it’s more of a difference of mood and character development? It hews more toward a gothic and horror vibe than the adventure style of League. Most of the characters are derived from classic horror literature of the time period (such as Frankenstein and Dorian Grey).

    • John

      I don’t think del Toro is interested in the book’s anti-technology message. He’s always said that he wants to focus on the Miltonian aspect of the creature’s story. Think Paradise Lost translated to the 19th century.

      • Steven

        Well the Miltonian aspects should come into play, because they were a big part of the book. The book even opens with a passage from Paradise Lost where Adam questions God about why he made him. It goes along with the aspect of should humans play God. Adam questions God of why he created humans, and the Creature (also named Adam) questions Frankenstein on why he was created, and how he fits into the world. It also shows Frankenstein as being an unfit creator who is incapable to taking care of his creation, and shows that man is incapable of taking care of anything they create.
        My problem is that it doesn’t look like Universal is interested in exploring any of those themes. Their original “classic” film completely bypassed all of those themes. I know it’s a classic and all, but I really dislike it. Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus really is my favorite novel and I hate to see it bastardized again for a quick buck when it is so relatable to modern day scientific ethics.

    • John

      I don’t think del Toro is interested in the book’s anti-technology message. He’s always said that he wants to focus on the Miltonian aspect of the creature’s story. Think Paradise Lost translated to the 19th century.

  • Leon

    No NO NO NO NO!! Sellout Del toro is awful! He takes good horror and turns it into PG-13 trash! I hate you Sell out del toro. I really hope you just stop! Stop ruining movies and stop making these trashy PG-13 suckfests

  • Pingback: Alex Kurtzman Talks Amazing Spider-Man 3, Venom, Sinister Six, Monster Universe, and More

  • Raptor Jesus

    This whole concept is a massive failure waiting to happen. Modern filmgoers WILL NOT ACCEPT re-makes of this old films we’ve all seen a hundred times.

  • Pingback: ギレルモ・デル・トロ監督、『フランケンシュタイン』の映画化について語る。

  • Pingback: Is Guillermo Del Toro Going To Direct Universal's 'Frankenstein'?

  • Pingback: More Details On Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe

  • Pingback: Will Del Toro Bring Universal's Classic 'Frankenstein' to Life?

  • Pingback: Daniel Radcliffe Calls Victor Frankenstein a Fun Adventure Movie