It's no secret Guillermo del Toro has a strong affinity for ghoulish stories, which partially explains why he has passed on directing certain Marvel movies (Thor, The Wolverine) that were lacking in the area of creepy monsters. That affection for all things macabre and eery extends to Disney's Haunted Mansion, accounting for the fan-favorite Mexican storyteller's involvement with a new live-action take on the ride.
However, when the Mouse House recently pulled del Toro's project from its official website - coupled with nothing in the way of recent news signaling progress - it left many people wondering: Has the filmmaker's lack of availability (he's currently overseeing post-production on Pacific Rim, and will co-direct the 3D stop-motion Pinocchio movie in the near future) inspired Disney to pull the plug on Haunted Mansion?
Fortunately, according to del Toro, the answer is no. As he informed Collider:
"I delivered my last ['Haunted Mansion' script draft] five weeks ago. I have a meeting with [Disney heads] in three weeks. I know they like the screenplay. I need to meet with them in three weeks. That’s what I know. I know their reaction to the draft was good. We have a bunch of conceptualist art, but you never know, to predict anything else is hard for me to know."
Pacific Rim won't be finished until (most likely) sometime in early 2013, while Pinocchio is already developing under the watchful eye of del Toro's collaborator, Mark Gustafson. It's worth mentioning that del Toro remains attached to write and direct a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (starring Harry Potter's Emma Watson) somewhere down the line - moreover, the filmmaker still yearns to finish off his planned Hellboy trilogy in the foreseeable future.
Nonetheless, del Toro remains committed to Haunted Mansion, and speculates that Disney may be holding out to see if he directs the attraction-based film (in addition to writing and producing):
"I still would love to make that movie. I came on board originally as a writer and producer, the decision I think they may be waiting, is for me to say I’m directing the movie. Or am I directing it next, which is too early for me to know what I’m doing next in live-action. I’m in the middle of Pacific Rim and I don’t know what I’m going to do next."
We learned this week that another del Toro-backed venture, a new Incredible Hulk television series, is waiting for an undisclosed writer to help revise the pilot script. If del Toro accepts helming duties on (at least) the first episode, that could remove his as a contestant to helm Haunted Mansion, similar to how David Slade recently vacated the Daredevil reboot director's chair (to move ahead with the Hannibal TV series instead).
Stay tuned for additional status updates on Haunted Mansion in the forthcoming weeks.