Guillermo del Toro likes to keep his fingers in a whole bakery's worth of pies; the man just cannot bear to be anything less than crazy busy. As of this writing, he's a month away from premiering The Strain on FX, while animated picture Book of Life, which he performed production duties on, hits theaters in October. Meanwhile, he's working on Pacific Rim 2's script, he still wants to make Hellboy 3 with Ron Perlman, he has ties to a Justice League Dark film, Crimson Peak comes out in 2015, and his stop-motion retelling of Pinnocchio is waiting in the wings, too.
So, yeah, del Toro lives to work, and believe it or not, all of the above just scratches the surface. The list of potential projects on his docket is practically endless. (At the Mountains of Madness, anybody?) Which means that, every once in a while, del Toro writes himself into the corner by signing onto one (or two, or three, or four) too many endeavors at once, and when that happens, even the most industrious creative types have occasion to make hard decisions and let something go.
For del Toro, that "something" is the proposed live-action Beauty and the Beast film he committed to several years ago in that lovably flaky way only del Toro can. Not the Disney version of the same film, mind, currently titled The Beast and boasting Twilight: Breaking Dawn director Bill Condon at the helm; no, del Toro's Beauty and the Beast, tentatively called Beauty, is another animal entirely, but according to Deadline, he's setting aside his best-laid plans for the movie and leaving the reigns to an as-yet undecided substitute.
He's not washing his hands of Beauty completely, though; del Toro penned the screenplay himself, so he still has a stake in its success. To that end, he's remaining aboard as, surprise, surprise, a producer, and it sounds like he's going to be involved in the search for his replacement. (Of course, nobody can truly replace del Toro. That's just basic science.) But the Pan's Labyrinth auteur's change of heart here does leave Beauty kind of rudderless, putting the Mouse House's take on the story slightly ahead just for sheer value of being the first out the gate.
That's not to say Condon has the superior version here, just that he's ahead of the game as del Toro slips behind. Frankly, this is probably a bigger deal for Beauty's star, Emma Watson, than for del Toro himself; del Toro has things to do all day long, and no shortage of many and sundry enterprises to distract himself with. Watson's an established star, so this won't break her career whatsoever - particularly with Darren Aronofsky's Noah on the books and Alejandro Amenabar's Regression ahead of her - but missing the chance to work with a guy like del Toro has to sting a little.
At least the Harry Potter alum has kept busy herself, between her stint in Aronofsky's latest as well as roles in This is the End and The Bling Ring. All the same, del Toro's exit feels like rather a big deal for Beauty. Think of other recent big-ticket productions that had, and lost, del Toro's directorial touch (a'la The Hobbit), and wonder what those films might have been like with him in charge. Maybe Beauty won't fail without him, but it certainly won't be the same, either.
We'll keep you up to date on Beauty as events warrant.