Legendary Pictures Attempts to Lure Guillermo del Toro away from AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS to PACIFIC RIM – UPDATED

     March 7, 2011


Writer-director-producer Guillermo del Toro deserves better.  He’s one of the most imaginative and creative filmmakers working today and he hasn’t gotten behind a camera since 2008′s Hellboy II: The Golden Army.  He left The Hobbit last May because there was no start date in sight and now, as some kind of cruel cosmic joke, The Hobbit is starting production (now with Peter Jackson at the helm) and del Toro may be stuck in a false start on his new project, At the Mountains of Madness.  As Universal stalls on del Toro’s dream project, Deadline reports that Legendary Pictures his trying to get del Toro to direct the PG-13 monster movie Pacific Rim.

You may recall Pacific Rim as the movie that was rumored to be the Godzilla reboot, but turned out not be  a non-Godzilla affiliated monster movie.  Del Toro was offered the project back in October, but responded that he was not involved with Godzilla, a fact which didn’t preclude his participation in Pacific Rim since it’s not the Godzilla reboot (that film is being handled by Monsters director Gareth Edwards).  Hit the jump for more on this tale of two del Toro projects.

Update: Steve here. I’ve been told that Universal killed At the Mountains of Madness on Friday and del Toro is going to take on Pacific Rim as his next film.  I’m sure this will all be worked out over the next few days.  I’m just sad that one of my favorite filmmakers is having so many problems getting a film made.

Guillermo del Toro image Hellboy 2 (1)Here’s what we reported last October concerning the Travis Beachem’s Pacific Rim script:

The story is “set in a future in which malevolent creatures threaten the earth, the planet must band together and use highly advanced technology to eradicate the growing menace.”

Legendary previously tried to get del Toro on board a Wizard of Oz project and I’m so happy he passed on that because there’s enough of those as it is and while seeing his grotesque re-designs of munchkins and flying monkeys would be intriguing, I’d rather see del Toro get his passion project: At the Mountains of Madness.

Like he did with The Hobbit, del Toro has reportedly done a large amount of pre-production design on Mountains even though the project hasn’t been given a green light.  Universal, the studio who owns the rights, is balking at the project’s $150 million price tag for what’s going to be an R-rated horror flick even though James Cameron is producing, the movie will be in 3D, and Tom Cruise is “ready to star”.

The problem is that the movie would have to gross $500 million worldwide for the studio to earn its money back.  That’s a huge gamble and Universal is reportedly hanging on to Mountains as something del Toro could come back to after Pacific Rim.  Clearly, Universal is hoping that Pacific Rim is a smash hit and maybe being able to write “From the Director of Pacific Rim” on the poster could potentially conjure up enough worldwide interest for the studio to be comfortable enough to give the green light.

If del Toro moves to Pacific Rim, I’ll be bummed because it pushes back every other project he has.  I don’t know how much pre-production time del Toro would need before he started shooting on Pacific Rim and presumably there would be a lot of post-production work required.  I’ll also be bummed because I want to see him get his passion project off the ground and while I think Universal’s concerns are legitimate, I’d rather see them take a chance on del Toro then spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a Battleship movie.  Then again, it’s not my hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.


  • Magnus

    I would love, love, love for Guillermo Del Toro to finally make At the Mountains of Madness. But the reported $150 million budget just seems insane for this kind of R-rated movie. Especially after The Wolfman…
    My hope was for this movie to only cost around $100 million. Now I really doubt this movie will ever get made. Can somebody please call Megan Ellison?

    And, yeah, $200 million for the Battleship movie is also insane, but I’m pretty sure it’s Hasbro that pays for it.

  • kure

    pacific rim is something HUGE!!!!
    i heard something little about this and that little is that this is something we have never seen before with a huge,huge budget of 250,300 mill.

  • dogg

    It’s good to be del Torro.

  • Bret

    “You may recall Pacific Rim as the movie that was rumored to be the Godzilla reboot, but turned out not be a non-Godzilla affiliated monster movie.”

    Mr. Goldberg, please to explain…

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  • Mr. Bobenterton

    Hasbro paying for it? Wrong. Not winning.

  • Jeff T.

    Damn Goldberg, you sure as hell like to kiss Del Torro’s big ass.

    I mean DAMN!

  • rocky

    What, they didn’t think of this before they hired him and had him start on pre-production. Fucking idiots.

    I like DelToro a lot, mostly for his Blade and Pan’s Labyrinth films and his fanboyish attitude. But the guy hasn’t had that honest to God blockbuster which is why I sometimes wonder what’s up with all the love this guy seems to get.

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  • Elitist Prick

    Ugh, I just want him to go into production on SOMETHING. I know a lot of it is studio politics and financing and other such nonsense, but he’s one of my favorite directors, so I’m eager for something new from him.

  • h

    I hope they get raped.

    • RAR


  • this guy again

    OH COME ON!!!!!!!

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  • Deluca

    I was the chubby lady hiding in the bushes…

  • 198d

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????????

  • Visionaries Rule!

    This just pisses me off! Universal is willing to spend 200 million on a Battleship movie starring Rihanna and a Ouija movie from the writers of Tron Legacy, the producers of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street remakes, and the director of Terminator Salvation but they won’t let two visionary directors, Guillermo del Toro and Gore Verbinski, make R-rated films (At The Mountains of Madness and Bioshock) that will be unlike anything audiences see. The reason Universal is having so many flops is that they are putting out films people are tired of seeing (The Dilemma, The Wolfman, Leap Year, Get Him to the Greek, Land of the Lost, Cirque du Freak, and Charlie St. Cloud). If they really want to turn things around go big or home and let directors make films that are going to surprise and captivate audiences by showing them something they do not see from studios.

  • C.S. Lewis

    It would have been the best thing ever.

  • MarsHottentot

    Low Com Denom. We live in a entertainment world controlled by the disposable income of children.

  • Junierizzle

    Del toro is great but him never having a huge box office hit doesnt help.

    Im glad THE HOBBIT is finally set to begin production. I for one would have preferred del toro over Jackson. I know Jackson did LOTR but Ill always wonder what del toro would have done.
    If you read that great New Yorker article on del toro, youll recall that they implied that del toro was let go. Of Course he walked away but they wanted him to walk away. It wasnt something about the studio being more comfortable financing the movies if Jackson was the director. Because Jackson already directed huge mone makers,LOTR.
    It is funny that once Jackson signed on the ball really,really,really got rolling on The Hobbit.
    So it makes sense that Uni would kill the project. Maybe Pacific Rim is his shot. Then he can do whatever he wants. You know, if it makes money.

    I think he should do something small and practical like Pans Labyrinth. But he probably would have done that already.

    Or maybe there is something else to it? Its true, the man is more famous for stuff he is working on then finishing things.

  • Valmordas

    He should have stuck with the Hobbit. He had a chance to make a classic and he blew it. Now his career will wallow in mediocrity until he is forgotten altogether.

    • Agent_Black

      Sorr Valmordas… but mediocrity? Guillermo del Toro? Are you fucking kidding?

      Pan’s Labyrinth was a masterpiece and The Devil’s Backbone wasn’t far off it… if your idea of ‘making it’ is having a blockbuster huge then stick to Michael Bay films.

  • junierizzle

    I’m no studio head but At the Mountains of Madness starring Tom Cruise sounds more a money maker than “story is set in a future in which malevolent creatures threaten the earth, the planet must band together and use highly advanced technology to eradicate the growing menace.” Isn’t that pretty much Battle LA??

  • Alex–

    Legendary Studios is the most creative and one of the most successful mainstream studios around.

    That’s where Nolan, Snyder and Singer make their home.

    Getting Del Toro was a huge coup, the guys been a punching bag for 3 years now, studios mocking him at every corner. Not even James Cameron could get a film of his made.

    Del Toro making a more traditional film that’s a hit is just what he needs to get a studio to finance his dream madness film.

    In the meantime we actually get to see this guys films. He could have made two films in three years.

  • Tony

    This is what the Movie industry has become, If you want to spend alot of money on an unproven commodity you had better have already put alot of money in the studio’s bank account.

    Do you think there is any way we would have ever seen Inception if Nolan hadn’t already lined WB’s pockets with Batman money.

    If Del Toro Plays nice, and puts out a Audience friendly Monster movie with enough of his personal touches on it to make it a “Box Office Blockbuster” then the studios will be begging to make his Mountains of Madness movie.

  • JoseKalEl

    I for once, want to see a Hellboy 3 movie. Yes, I know the Hellboy franchise hasn’t been a huge money maker, but they’re bot great action flicks with amazing designs and direction.

    I also think that it’s unfortunate that he hasn’t had many blockbusters, or else, he would’ve been able to make any movie he wanted, like Tony said about Nolan; once you put money into a studio’s bank account, they’ll let you ‘invest’ with it. Sadly.

  • GuillermoDelSorrow

    Oh come on Universal!!! I was SO looking forward to ATMOM even though Tom Cruise didn’t sound like the perfect fit. Universal is full of Shoggoths!!!


    Uh why does he need a hundred and fifty mil to make this pic? He pulled off the first Hellboy (which was visually amazing) for something like sixty million. One of the things that always impressed me about Del Toro was his ability to pull off so much with so little. Does Cruise cost so flippin’ much? Or does the addition of Cameron’s name automatically double the budget?
    This is a shame because I was looking forward to SOMEONE finally doing Lovecraft right and if anyone can do it, Del Toro is the man.

  • Farzan

    People need to shut up and realize its not Universal’s fault for saying no. The films budget was $150 million with prints and advertising, its mostly going to be above $200 million. Its rated R and is more horror than action adventure. It would need to do at least $500 million worldwide for the studio to even make its money back. Thats basically Lord of the Rings-Harry Potter numbers.

    When was the last time a horror movie made that much money? Not to mention Guillermo del Toro doesn’t exactly have a blockbuster hit. Believe me, I’m also disappointed by this news because I know Guillermo del Toro would have made this into something special and unique. That said Universal is just thinking smart.

    Of all the studios making films these days, Universal are the ones taking risks. They did Scott Pilgrim and advertised the crap out of it. Look what happened, nobody saw it. They have Paul coming out soon and they just released The Adjustment Bureau. Universal at least takes risk with their films unlike Disney and Paramount who only rely on sequels.

    I know people are going to bring in Battleship and Ouija into this, but they fail to realize that Hasbro is essentially paying for most of the budgets on those films….not Universal. Universal is only distributing and paying for advertisements. Del Toro should have just made this for $100 million instead of $150 million. I don’t know why he needs that much money for this film.

    • PaulUK

      I think it is quite obvious that a large part of that budget would be the use of the specialized 3d filming involved (James Cameron as producer and technical adviser). I mean avatar cost between $300-500 million depending on source. Also I thought it was a standard practice of doubling the production cost to break even, so that would make $300m to recoup not the the $500m as reported. I’d rather watch any of his personal Spanish films over the “hollywood blockbuster” shite any day but as mentioned you have to play the game aka Nolan. I would like to see him get onto the last part of trilogy, Devils Backbone and Pans Labyrinth being parts I and II, could be the best trilogy ever!!!

  • Mathieu

    I couldn’t say whether or not Mountains of Madness would have been a sound financial gamble for Universal. But I can say with absolute certainty that neither I nor anyone I know will be wasting my money on fucking Battleship or Ouija movies.

    Cameron should use his clout at Fox to get this made over there, or dip into his very deep pockets and co-finance it himself. It would earn him a lot of credibility with all the Avatar-haters anyway!

    • Bill Graham

      I doubt Cameron really cares about the few dozen Avatar haters. The film smashed open the box office and led to the current oversaturation of 3D. He made plenty of money making the movie he wanted to make. Ha.

      I do agree though. He should help co-finance it. He can’t bring it to FOX because Uni owns the rights.

      Farzan, great point about the films others arent bringing up in regards to Uni. Scott Pilgrim was a bit of a box office dud, but I firmly believe the home video sales were likely way above what they expected. Pilgrim is a film that begs to be watched again and again.

  • Alex–

    Scott Pilgrim was a niche movie. Universal was foolish to have given the film such a big budget, keep in mind it’s writer director isn’t known at all for his big hits. Just cult films.

    So there was no reason to expect Scott Pilgrim would have been a hit. it’s still a cult film that will probably makes it money back someday and it got the studio artistic credit. But it was a big flop, that probably did as much harm as good.

    Studio excecs are probably dumping great idea after great idea with the saying “It will just be another Scott Pilgrim”.

  • Leigh

    Who cares?! Just do Hellboy 3 already!

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