Is Guillermo del Toro’s ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ Dead?

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 5:02 pm,

Guillermo del Toro and James Cameron’s At the Mountains of Madness, the big-budget adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft novella of the same name, has been in some stage of pre-production for years now. In fact, it was only after Cameron joined the team in the wake of Avatar (bringing his vaunted 3D cameras with him) that there seemed to be any real progress on the film.

Now, unfortunately, it appears that it was all for naught. According to Deadline, after months of stalling on Madness, Universal still isn’t ready to give the go-ahead on the $150 million R-rated horror picture. Understandably, del Toro doesn’t want to wait around in perpetuity, which is why – if he doesn’t get an immediate green light – he’ll be moving onto his next film: Pacific Rim.

Apparently, the likelihood of there being an immediate green light is slim to none, as Universal just isn’t prepared to risk so much money on a hardcore horror movie about – amongst other things – nine-foot-tall monster penguins from Antarctica. I can’t say I completely blame them, even if I am incredibly disappointed. The movie would need to make at least $500 million worldwide to be worth it for the studio.

In addition to James Cameron, Don Murphy and Susan Montford were set to produce, and Tom Cruise was even on deck to star. (Not that that means as much these days, in terms of box-office returns.)

News of At the Mountains of Madness’ imminent demise comes mere hours after Murphy sent io9 an email saying:

“Mountains is very close to the Lovecraft supposed to shoot in June yes with [Tom Cruise].”

Which, if I may be so bold, implies that the filmmakers were at least hoping for a June start date.

Later in the day, Murphy walked the above statement back a bit in a correspondence with Drew McWeeny of HitFix, saying:

“We are all trying to get Mountains up and running with Tom [Cruise] and Jim [Cameron] and everybody but no start date has been set AT ALL.”

It seems that either something happened between Don Murphy talking up the forthcoming film production and the later reports of its doom, or he was just doing what every producer does – pretending everything was a-okay until the ship was officially sunk. Pardon my terrible metaphor.

The death of At the Mountains of Madness is extremely disappointing news for H.P. Lovecraft aficionados. Though the work of Lovecraft has been translated to the big screen more times than I can count – sometimes explicitly, but most times by way of that thing called “homage” (Evil Dead, In the Mouth of Madness, Hellboy) – never has there been a truly accurate nor faithful adaptation. Even Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and From Beyond, easily the best and most popular of the cinematic Lovecraft adaptations, are known far more for their satirical slant than they are for their place in the canon of Lovecraft.

What do you think? Are you disappointed that del Toro is likely leaving At the Mountains of Madness at least for the time being – or are you excited to see Pacific Rim in its place? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: Deadline, io9, & HitFix

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  1. This ruins my day, BUT it does leave him open to making Hellboy 3 now :D

  2. I doubt we will ever see Hellboy 3 .. I know he would eventually like to make the film but will he find a studio to finance it?

    • GK333, I hope you are wrong :) Ever since I heard that crazyman Cruise was set to be in this I totally lost interest, so it really doesn’t matter to me much.

  3. Harry Knowles has an excellent rant on the subject.

  4. If James Cameron is so passionate about this project why doesn’t he chip in towards the production costs. It’s not like the guy us short on cash.

  5. So much potential but I am NOT on board with Tom Cruise.

  6. Well 150M is allot of scratch even for Cameron considering the other things he has his fingers in. You gotta wonder too if the studio won’t pony up then perhaps it’s not that great of a business proposition right now. Finally you never know about these guys. If the script can be kept under wraps perhaps at a later date the costs might come down…

  7. Wtf? Does this guy ever really make films? I mean seriously, every movie he is attached gets canned and this sounded awesome with the lairing of Cameron and Del Toro.

    • LOL… You do have a point!

  8. What’s Pacific Rim?

    And wow, all this buildup for At the Mountains… for nothing.

  9. Sulls!! I’m begining to wonder about that too!!!!

  10. I just died a little inside

  11. hollywood strikes again. i am pissed off!!!!!! i am sick of these comic book films being made all the time, and crappy action films, and all of them are pg with really bad comedy and action. i want to see some really great story driven r rated if need be horror films, and sci fi thrillers. del toro know what to do to make a great film and hollywood stands in his way. bring us some good monster flick, and sci fi thrillers with story/character and less action,pg, and comedy. VERY UPSET BY THIS NEWS, AND THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WE WILL NOT GET GOOD HIGH BUDGET MONSTER/SCI FI THRILLER FLICKS BECAUSE OF HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS.

  12. LAME! This would have been awesome even with Cruise in it. You would think with Cameron attached the studio would have a bit of faith.

  13. From potential Classic to Classic Fail in one news bulletin. I think I’m actually properly upset at Hollywood…like teary and everything.

    That’s just no use at all Hollywood. No use at all.
    (D-), could do much better.

  14. Honestly I’m at the point where until I see a trailer, I’m going to doubt any news I hear about any of his projects. I’m tired of hearing about all his canned projects. I’m a fan of his work but this is just ridiculous and annoying

  15. people have to remember that Hollywood is first and foremost a business. Money is their primary concern and they won’t risk a substantial sum unless they know it will make bank. however, risks have paid off. The studios originally told Cameron to dial back the environmentalism in Avatar. But they backed off because they didn’t want to mess with a potential cash cow. And what do you know: despite ALL the flak that movie got, it still set a box office record. Which makes this all the more baffling: Cameron is involved and is also paired up with an acclaimed director. But they are not willing to bet money so easily (also baffling, considering the money they pour into utter crap, like fast and the furious and resident evil). but it’s like what we saw in the Bioshock article: the bigwigs won’t sink money into something r rated, no matter how great the potential.

    This is most disappointing: i haven’t read Lovecraft, am marginally familiar with Cthulhu, and even i was hooked by this film.

  16. “Del Toro to direct” has become a phrase I laugh at now when I read it because lately it seems that whenever those words are in a sentence together a few months will pass and then the project will fall apart. It’s a shame because I think the guy makes amazing films and he is one of the best pure story tellers in the buisness today…

  17. Cruise does not impress me, but Cameron does. If del Toro and Cameron need big bucks to make this happen, by all means give it to them! They will make it back, and sometimes you have to spend money to make money.I really hope this movie will go forward ala cameron, even if Del Toro backs out. We need a good serious treatment of Lovecraft. My personal choice would be the story, “The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward”, but someone somewhere out there: Help! We need a Lovecraft movie! I am surprised Univerdal does not want to have a big banner film based on Lovecraft. They are famous for the old horror classics (Dracula, Mummy, Frakenstein, original Wolfman), and certainly made an honest effort with the Wolfman remake. Why not Lovecraft?

  18. At The Mountains Of Madness is still going ahead, with the project falling to Stella James Studios. See the press release at http://stellajamesstudios.com/pr_mountains-madness and also at stellajamesstudios.com/pr-views which was announced at the moment del Toro lost his bid at Universal. Stella James Studios released an audio version of the book as well.

  19. I’m sorry, but it must be said: it is narrow minded, unimaginative people like the author of this article who have killed this film by making “at the Mountains” sound like hokey crap instead of the EPIC HORROR MAStERPIECE it truly is. Read the story people; read and it and then go mad from the sheer horror and unimaginable terror that will wreak unholy vengeance on your puny mind.

  20. Kick Cameron and Cruise out of the Movie and everything will be fine.

  21. I have the sense that this story is better left to readers. The writer’s imaginative creatures would be very difficult to translate acceptably to the screen. I don’t believe the popcorn munching target audience would swallow anything other than a humanoid species to be responsible for developing the ancient alien civilization that is the foundation of the story. Then there is explaining the alien warfare, from what, wall carvings? It’s Prometheus all over again.