When Guillermo Del Toro left The Hobbit, speculation was rampant regarding what the visionary director would choose as his next project. In July, he put the speculation to rest as he announced that he would next take on H.P. Lovecraft’s epic novella At The Mountains of Madness in 3D, with the help of James Cameron as a producer. In September we broke the news that Universal was looking to cast James McAvoy in the starring role, while Del Toro had his sights set on Tom Cruise instead. It appears that pre-production is rolling right along, as Cameron recently gave an update on the project:
We’re very, very actively pre-producing the film right now with Universal. The design work is phenomenal, both the three-dimensional and two-dimensional design work, the physical maquettes, the CG test scenes; the artwork is phenomenal. The fans certainly won’t want for a visual feast with this film. But there’s [still] a bunch of number-crunching and “How you gonna do it?” and “How you gonna make it?”; “Where you gonna do it?” All that stuff.
Hit the jump for more from Cameron, including why he got involved in the project in the first place.
One word, one man – Guillermo. We’ve been friends for twenty years. We’ve been trying to work together, really, for that entire time. And it has never quite congealed. We’re both Lovecraft fans. Me from my college days, when I discovered Lovecraft. I think I read everything he wrote in about a month. I powered through it. And if anybody can bring Lovecraft to the screen it’s gonna be Del Toro.
He’s got a real vision for the film. It’s very, very well-developed in his mind. You know, I’m just there to facilitate his vision. I don’t have any strong sense of authorship; zero sense of authorship. I’m just there to try to get it made and help him do the movie that’s in his head.
When Del Toro spoke with Steve about the project at last year’s Saturn Awards, he explained how difficult it would be to get a studio to say yes to “an R-rated tentpole with a tough ending [and] no love story.” This is where Cameron comes in. With his muscle as a producer, it sounds like he’s acting as a safeguard for Del Toro’s vision, ensuring that his film doesn’t get watered down or converted into a more “family-friendly” flick.
Personally, I’m ecstatic to see what Del Toro and Cameron have in store here. While this update provides little in the way of details on the project, Cameron’s enthusiasm is infectious (say what you will about the man’s storytelling/screenwriting ability, but he’s got one of the best eyes for visuals in the business). I’m also quite fond of Cruise as the lead. I found Knight and Day to be a fantastically fun return to form for the actor, and could see this film as his comeback in more dramatic fare.
There’s no official start-date for production yet, but if Del Toro and Cameron can get the budgetary details hammered out, it seems feasible that they could begin rolling sometime later this year.
Here’s a brief synopsis of Lovecraft’s novella:
The story is written in first-person perspective by the geologist William Dyer, a professor from Miskatonic University. He writes to disclose hitherto unknown and closely kept secrets in the hope that he can deter a planned and much publicized scientific expedition to Antarctica. On a previous expedition there, a party of scholars from Miskatonic University, led by Dyer, discovered fantastic and horrific ruins and a dangerous secret beyond a range of mountains taller than the Himalayas. [Wikipedia]