Production on Guillermo del Toro's Fantastic Voyage has been delayed, in order to allow the filmmaker enough time to complete his next theatrical release, The Shape of Water. The Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim director has been attached to helm Fantastic Voyage - a remake of the 1966 sci-fi film of the same name - since early 2016, after talks with such prospective directors as Paul Greengrass and Shawn Levy ultimately fell by the wayside. Since then, del Toro has reportedly been working away on the film's script with his Blade II co-writer, David S. Goyer.
About a week ago (at the time of writing this), it was reported that production on Fantastic Voyage was gearing up to get underway in Ontario by the first quarter of 2018, with del Toro calling the shots as intended. According to the latest report on the matter, that was indeed the plan - before Fox and James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment (which are producing the film) hit the brakes, pushing the start of principal photography on Fantastic Voyage back to later next year.
Deadline is reporting that Fox and Lightstorm made the decision in order to allow del Toro enough time to wrap up post-production on The Shape of Water, ahead of its premiere at the Toronto International and Venice Film Festivals (followed by its December theatrical rollout). Construction on the sets for Fantastic Voyage is now expected to get started next spring, with production starting by the fall. That essentially rules out the original 2019 winter holiday release that Fox and Lightstorm were targeting for the film, setting Fantastic Voyage on a course to arrive in 2020 instead (with summer being a strong possibility).
Fantastic Voyage is a (literal) small-scale sci-fi adventure that follows a group of scientists as they are miniaturized and then injected into the body of a dying man, in an effort to save his life. Since the remake's primary setting will be a costly one to realize on the big screen, it's for the best that Fox not rush del Toro and allow him to finish up The Shape of Water first, so that he can then devote his attention in full to fine-tuning the production design for Fantastic Voyage before the cameras start rolling.
Like Pacific Rim and his other bigger-budgeted efforts before it (see Hellboy II: The Golden Army, for example), it sounds as though del Toro's Fantastic Voyage will utilize a combination of practical sets and digitally-rendered scenery to create its sci-fi backdrop. That method differs from the all-CGI approach to creating entire worlds (literally, in this case) that Cameron is currently taking on the finally-in-production Avatar sequels, but one imagines that del Toro (and his longtime fans) wouldn't have it any other way.
It's likewise encouraging to hear that del Toro is being allowed sufficient time to finish post-production on The Shape of Water, ahead of its film festival tour and subsequent general release. Seeing as there's been some initial speculation that the film (an original fairy tale set against the backdrop of the Cold War) will be del Toro's first awards season contender since Pan's Labyrinth was released over a decade ago, that's all the more reason for movie buffs to be thankful that he won't have to compromise his vision for The Shape of Water in order to make the old start date for Fantastic Voyage.
- The Shape of Water (2017) release date: Dec 01, 2017