Del Toro Discusses ‘Mountains of Madness’ Collapse, Teases ‘Pacific Rim’

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 5:02 pm,

Despite being involved in the development of enough upcoming projects to make your head spin, Guillermo del Toro has struggled recently to actually begin principal photography on any single film. Some nine months ago he passed on directing The Hobbit due to its now-infamous production delays, and just last Friday del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness adaptation became officially dead in the water.

Now the Pan’s Labyrinth creator has opened about just what happened with At the Mountains of Madness, saying that he will actually be behind the camera again this fall, on Pacific Rim.

With the assistance of James Cameron, del Toro was poised to transform author H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness into a 3D, $150 million motion picture with Tom Cruise in the lead. It had the makings of a dream project come true for fans of Lovecraftian Horror, but was always considered a risky proposition – in part due to the limited appeal of the source material.

Deadline sat down for a Q&A session with del Toro, in which the filmmaker admitted that he doesn’t know exactly why his Mountains of Madness collapsed so suddenly:

“I haven’t had a face to face with [Universal chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chair Donna Langley] . We’ve exchanged a few phone calls. In 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 storyboarding, 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.”

Dont Be Afraid of the Dark gets international distributor Del Toro Discusses Mountains of Madness Collapse, Teases Pacific Rim

Katie Holmes in 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark'.

The del Toro-produced remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark will finally arrive in theaters this August, and he (del Toro) describes that as being the sort of R-Rated “very intense movie [made] in a very classical mold” that he was aiming for with Mountains of Madness.

An R-Rating for the Lovecraft adaptation was very much a deal-breaker for him too, according to del Toro. He seems aware that this may have contributed to the project’s termination, but points out that he’d made his feelings on the matter quite clear to studio heads:

“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… The only thing 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.”

Fans of the darkly imaginative auteur can at least take comfort in the news that his next directorial effort, Pacific Rim, is “unequivocally” set to begin principal photography this September, with Legendary Pictures eying a Summer 2013 release date.

While del Toro’s lips were by and large sealed about the picture – which is officially described as being a futuristic sci-fi thriller in which Earth must defend itself against attacking creatures – he did offer the following tidbit:

“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.”

So Pacific Rim will be a monster invasion movie of sorts, with del Toro calling the shots? That should help to tide over fans who are hoping to see At the Mountains of Madness make the leap to the big screen sometime in the next few years.

Source: Deadline

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  1. Just do Hellboy 3 and everyone will be happy.

    • Agreed. Pacific Rim reminds me too much of Godzilla: Final Wars (for some reason), which was a bad film itself.

    • Hellboy 2 was not a good film. I’m with Mignola on this. No Hellboy 3. I’d rather see the film made in a decade or so with a more capable director and a tone that’s closer to the source material. Hellboy being a cat lover and watching cartoons like a little kid… fail.

  2. I agree Jose. his projects recently just seem to fall apart for some reason.

  3. How is an alien invasion film any less expensive or risky than Madness? It’ll be done to death this year by the time Del Toro’s film arrives. Since when has a monster movie been risky, also? Cloverfield anyone?

  4. Looks like crazy Hollywood politics

  5. i want to see giaant tigers and lions and lizard like the game rampage. that would be sweet

  6. Really is too bad that this project died. I finished the story about a month before it was announced that it was being developed, so I was surprised and excited that this was going forward. It would have made a really good suspenseful monster movie, especially if it was rated R.

  7. I’m so sorry that “At The Mountains Of Madness” died. It would have been a very good monster movie, more in line with the intensity and fright factor of the first two “Alien” movies.

    Unfortunately, studios are attempting to cater more to the family crowd (especially teen boys and girls who have slightly more disposable income), which is why more horror movies are going for that PG-13 rating.

    Such is life and Hollywood politics.

  8. Weird since it sounds like things were going so well. I was quite looking forward to it myself since it would have been great if he could create an intense horror film like he planned.

  9. I really hate how this is turning out for one of the best director’s in the business (in my opinion).

  10. I’m pissed now, I’m readin At the Mountains of Madness and i wanted this to be made. Del Toro, Cameron, and Cruise? What tha hell Hollywood, do you need Weta and ILM and every other A-List actor and filmmaker to be in it too?

    NOt so sure with Pacific Rim, need to know more and I really hope Hellboy 3 and his takes on the classic Universal monster come about.

  11. Universal, you blew it. You’d better rethink this, as Del Toro and cameron knew what they were doing. Perhaps some other studio with a little more vision may pick this up—hope so. You have to spend money to make money, and a big budget film with so m uch going for it would have made you the money back and then some. You did good with The Wolfman remake. Whence since then hast gone thy former glory? And your brains?! Lovecraft, Del Toro, Cuise, Cameron, etc. etc…..what were you thinking? If an R rating and $150 million is what thyey say they need, give it to them, for goodness sakes! I would if I could. There is more to profit than just the box office. There is merchandise, there are DVD sales, there is reputation of the studio and the possibility of spawning a Lovecraft movie franchise (there is lots of his material right there between the covers of his books to do, say, The Dunwuch Horror, The case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and many others. You ned to have confidence in their abilities. This decision will hurt Universal, who could have usd this as well as The Wolfman remake to step back up to the front as the premiere horror movie studio!

  12. But for all you Lovecraft fans, here’s a press release leak… At The Mountains Of Madness IS NOT DEAD. It left the hands of Del Toro and Cameron, but its dropped into the lap of Shadow Mihai and Carrie Cain Sparks at their new studio, Stella James ( and Press releases are coming out this week.

    • Universal has been taken over by a bunch of statues with perhaps as many as two grey cells amongst the lot of them. Perhaps they could rub them together and make a thought . . . and sorry, Joanne W., the thought of anyone lesser than Del Toro making MoM is beyond laughable. Lovecraft is very hard to properly translate to the screen, just ask Stuart Gordon, he’s made most of the “best” attempts to date. They are reasonably good campy B faire. NOT the blockbuster that would have resulted from Del Toro. This is the saddest news for horror film fans in the last 50 yrs . . . easily so.

  13. Gotta say I disagree with the aptly named Farty2 (maybe a euphemism for too farty?). I think its the BEST news. All I saw from the many, many releases from Del Toro team were monster concepts from old pictures – nothing not already done by anyone else in fact it was so blatant that they hadn’t conceptualized anything new… Fresh minds and reasonable budgets are whats needed, not the overblown B-movie that people said they expected when they read the script. And since you brought up the topic – adaptation and writing is not Del Toro’s strong suit – it’s monsters. Monsters really aren’t what Lovecraft’s work, especially in At The Mountains Of Madness, is about. I expect the film makers at Stella James Studios will do a great job.