Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim is newly-available on DVD and Blu-ray, so the filmmaker has been out promoting the release and providing updates on his many developing projects to the press. He's currently hunkered down with shooting the pilot for FX's The Strain TV series (based on the vampire novel trilogy co-written by del Toro), but that hasn't prevented the geek-favorite multi-tasker from getting a head-start on the script for a Pacific Rim sequel, even though WB has yet to issue an official go-ahead.
Fortunately, del Toro fans won't have to wait another five years for his next movie (a la the time between Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Pacific Rim), since the filmmaker will begin production on Crimson Peak around February 2014, with an impressive cast that includes Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam, Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston (subbing for Benedict Cumberbatch). The movie is said to be a throwback to set piece-centric haunted house fare like The Shining and The Haunting - Robert Wise's original, not Jan de Bont's CGI-heavy remake - that del Toro says takes place at the turn of the century, against the backdrop of an Emily Bronte-esque gothic windswept setting.
Previously, del Toro emphasized that Crimson Peak will be his first English-language horror film that feels in line with his R-Rated Spanish-language movies (Cronos, The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth); that is, quite violent and viscerally graphic in spurts, unlike his woebegone R-Rated sci-fi/horror flick, Mimic. Furthermore, in a newer interview with Rolling Stone, del Toro discussed the key difference between Crimson Peak and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, the lukewarm haunted house remake that del Toro co-wrote and produced (but did not direct).
Here is what the filmmaker had to say, on that subject:
The problem with Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was that it was designed to be a PG-13 movie. It was literally a horror movie for a younger generation. I was trying to do the film equivalent of teenage, young adult readers and when they gave it an R rating, the movie couldn't sustain an R. It had a couple of intense scenes, but it didn't have the weight to be an R-rated movie. Crimson Peak is an R-rated movie from the get-go. At the same time, it's a sincere, beautiful, classical gothic romance that's very violent and very kinky, in a way. What's a complete dream is the cast – Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Charlie Hunnam. It's amazing. We've also been designing the house to the last little corner, and it really is a monumental character in the film. I hope it's going to be my most beautiful movie.
Eye-catching production design and memorable creature effects - be it The Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth or the many Kaiju from Pacific Rim - have long been important aspects of del Toro's acclaimed storytelling approach, which makes his comments about Crimson Peak having the potential to be his most gorgeously dark and gothic film yet all the more intriguing. For similar reasons, it may always be a bit disappointing for del Toro's biggests fans that he never got to realize his own unique vision of Middle-earth and its fantastical inhabitants with his originally-planned version of The Hobbit (before he dropped out and Peter Jackson stepped in to direct instead).
Speaking of (seemingly) lost del Toro dream projects: a few years back, del Toro wrote the script for a new film adaptation of The Witches, based on the beloved Roald Dahl novel that was previously brought to the big screen in 1990, where the Jim Henson creature shop did its part to transform Oscar-winner Angelica Huston into the nightmarish monster that is the Grand High Witch (pictured above). Interestingly, back in the day, del Toro's fellow Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) was in line as a producer on the new screen version of Dahl's whimsical and spooky chidlren's book.
Here is what del Toro offered Rolling Stone, when asked for a status update on The Witches:
The Witches is at Warner Bros., and every time I can, I bring it up. Every time they say that they're interested and then nothing happens. I can tell you that [Felicity] "Liccy" Dahl read the screenplay and, when I went to see her at Gypsy House, she said, "I honestly think it's the best adaptation of Roald Dahl's books ever." I spent about two years adapting the screenplay. If anyone says to me, "You have to shoot the movie in the most difficult circumstances as you can, but you'll get to do it," I would do it. I think Roald Dahl had the rarest combination of talking to kids about complex emotions and he was able to show you that the world of kids was sophisticated, complex and had a lot more darkness than adults ever want to remember.
Could the critical and box office success of Gravity (combined with the inevitable awards glory) give Cuarón the clout he needs to help del Toro get Witches a greenlight? The movie was originally envisioned as being a stop-motion project; which, as promising as that sounds, may no longer be the case, following after del Toro's 3D stop-motion Pinocchio movie getting stuck in development limbo. Fact of the matter is, the box office track record for recent stop-motion films has been rocky, despite them having earned critical accolades (see: The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Frankenweenie), so del Toro might need to rethink his strategy if he wants to get either of his planned spooky chidlren's story adaptations made.
Look for Crimson Peak to open in theaters in 2015.
Source: Rolling Stone
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