Even when he didn’t have his next directing effort ready Guillermo Del Toro has always had a lot of projects developing. Right now we know he’s planning a smaller black & white film to shoot next before moving on to Pacific Rim 2, but that’s just the start of it. He’s also got the Gothic horror Crimson Peak arriving next year, and his FX series The Strain premieres tonight (my DVR is set!), but there’s even more that we haven’t heard much about of late, like Del Toro’s adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness and Disney’s The Haunted Mansion.
There’s still one film that fans won’t stop asking about and that is Hellboy 3, which star and Del Toro pal Ron Perlman has been gung-ho for a long time. The last film was six years ago and while they have been reasonably successful no progress has ever been made beyond a few vague comments about what a third film could entail. When asked about the film during a Reddit AMA, Del Toro doesn’t sound confident the film will happen, but does give some clues to what the plan might have been.
Del Toro: “Well, you know, we don’t have that movie on the horizon. But the idea for it was to have Hellboy finally come to terms with the fact that his destiny, his inevitable destiny, is to become the beast of the Apocalypse, and having him and Liz face the sort of, that part of his nature, and he has to do it, in order to be able to ironically vanquish the foe that he has to face in the 3rd film. He has to become the beast of the Apocalypse to be able to defend humanity, but at the same time he becomes a much darker being. It’s a very interesting ending to the series, but I don’t think it will happen.”
He goes on to note that a combination of factors are keeping the film from happening, from scheduling to studio concern over the budget….
Del Toro: “It’s very unlikely it’ll happen because you need things to converge so strongly. [Producer] Larry Gordon, Universal, the rights, Ron [Perlman’s] and mine’s availability, [comic creator] Mike [Mingola’s] blessing; we have pieces of that, but we don’t have all of that. You need so many things to confluence and then you need about $150 million….I think that the first movie made its budget back, and a little bit of profit, but then it was very very big on video and DVD. The story repeated itself with the second already, it made its money back at the box office, but a small margin of profit in the release of the theatrical print, but was very very big on DVD and video. Sadly now from a business point of view all the studios know is that you don’t have that safety net of the DVD and video, so they view the project as dangerous….Creatively, I would love to make it. Creatively. But it is proven almost impossible to finance. Not from MY side, but from the studio side. If I was a multimillionaire, I would finance it myself, but I spend all my money on rubber monsters.”
You may recall a few years ago there was this broad sweep of really expensive projects that studios suddenly got all nervous about. One of those was Del Toro’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, a film Universal put the ax to over concerns about the cost and prohibitive R-rating. But now that he’s over at Legendary Pictures, Del Toro is again talking the film up and considering both a PG-13 version and an unrated one….
Del Toro: “The way I’m thinking is, PG-13 goes a long way. It’s not that the novel is graphic, but people forget that there are crucial elements in the novel that are pretty horrific. Like the human autopsy, you know? I think that’s a dark moment. So what I would like to do is shoot it, as dark as it is, in an unrated cut and a PG-13 cut. Ideally they would be released simultaneously if that’s at all possible. We could release one [cut] in a certain format and the other in a different format with the hopes that we can offer more intense moments in one cut and equally intense moments but without graphic content in the other cut. Lovecraft was famous for suggestion, and a lot of the piece can suggest, but there are [certain moments] you need to show. Part of it is budget, part of it is rating.”
It may be awhile before that one ever gets moving even with Legendary’s support, and at least that gives Del Toro time to develop it in the manner he wants, adding…
Del Toro: “So I’d rather make it in a way that doesn’t compromise the content, or not do it.”
And yet that’s still not everything on the director’s plate. Four years ago Disney made a splash at Comic-Con by announcing a film based on The Haunted Mansion theme park attraction. Del Toro has been attached only as a writer and producer, although he apparently still has designs on directing if time allows and if the script can be figured out…
Del Toro: “It’s a hard screenplay to crack. We’ve done it a few times. We are on our third or fourth draft, with 2 different writing teams, and I think the main thing is to try to combine everything that is great about the ride into the movie, and to make it a really intense but with a sense of fun – just like the ride.”
Another one that sounds a long way off, but when it does happen it’s likely Doug Jones (also of the Hellboy movies) will be playing a version of the ride’s Hatbox Ghost…
Del Toro: “We have developed 50-60 pieces of art. We’ve developed maquettes of the Hat Box Ghost, over the body and face of Doug Jones, but we have not succeeded yet in cracking the screenplay. I have to believe that Disney will make this movie as soon as we crack the screenplay, but until then we cannot tackle it… We always feel like we are very close, but not yet.”
He also has a film that would team up DC’s supernatural heroes like Swamp Thing, Zatanna, and Constantine, but there hasn’t been any talk about it in quite some time. Hopefully it’s still in Warner Bros.’ future plans.