Geesh! So much for that one!
Although Guillermo del Toro has long been developing an adpatation of the H.P. Lovecraft novella At the Mountains of Madness, and seemed to finally secure Tom Cruise for the lead role only two days ago, the project has reportedly been scrapped indefinitely while the director instead takes on the Travis Beacham-scripted monster movie Pacific Rim!
In a new interview, he explains what exactly caused Madness to fall apart, and if he thinks his dream project will EVER get made!
Here are some HIGHlights:
When I first wrote Monday about Universal suddenly balking at Mountains, studio insiders said they weren’t sure Tom Cruise was definitively in, and they couldn’t stomach a $150 million R rated film because few of those have grossed the $500 million or so needed for Universal to make money. What do you think of that?
Definitely, closing Tom’s deal was in their hands. He was without a doubt, absolutely in favor of being in the movie. We met extensively, both in Canada and the U.S., dozens of times. Final polishes of the screenplay met with his approval. Closing the deal is not something that was in my hands. They needed to close it corporately. As far as the movie grossing that much, obviously I’m not impartial, but I have to believe that with 3D, Tom Cruise, Jim Cameron, the scope of Lovecraft’s novel that is one his best regarded and most widely known works, I would venture that it could absolutely have been done. I think the R should be worn like a badge of merit in promoting the movie. To say, this is not a gory movie, not a movie full of profanity or violence, but it’s a really intense movie. It’s all what you do with what you’re given. I had to believe right along that they were betting as much as I was. I was betting essentially everything I had, in terms of leverage, betting nine months of development when I was on The Hobbit. This was for me a do or die movie.
You were supposed to have an answer from Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson by the end of last year. What caused the process to drag out and what changed at a studio that once seemed so excited about making Mountains?
You may think I’m being glib, but I don’t know. Since the day of the decision, I haven’t had a face to face with them. We’ve exchanged a few phone calls. I my mind, we were given the parameters of a budget and screenplay, and I was given the chance by the studio to create a visual presentation. They were blown away by the visual presentation, they openly admitted to loving the screenplay, saying it was dead on. And we hit the target on the budget they gave us, not a figure I arrived at. This came after months and months of story boarding, haggling with VFX companies, and bringing down the budget number. The week before the decision, I was scouting in the border of Canada and Alaska. We were a week away from opening offices in Toronto. We were crewed up, and frankly, I am as puzzled as most people are. One of the biggest, biggest points for me with this movie was the scope and the R, going hand in hand.
How hard did the studio try to get you to budge off the R rating?
It was the subject of multiple conversations all the way through December. The definitive answer was known in December after a big meeting, when we were given the new parameters of budget and rewrites. We proceeded over the next few months to hit those parameters.
I’d heard your reps and your producing partners tried to make this happen at Fox and other places. Why didn’t anyone else step up? Would Universal let it go?
That is not a quick process. We would have needed first to get the formal terms of turnaround from Universal before we could formally get an answer from another studio. We were gauging interest and there was interest, very serious interest, but nothing that could happen before Universal names the terms in which they would allow us to try and set it up somewhere else. That is my hope right now that they just allow us to seek a home for this. It will remain a timely premise for years to come, so I don’t have to do it next month. I know it’s not an easy proposition. It is, if you have faith. I think a studio needs to fully believe in that. Certainly, in the last year, you can find movies of that scope or bigger that have been green lit on a wing and a prayer. We are part of show business, and it seems the business side takes more and more command of things, and the show part of the business seems to be dwindling. It’s a sign of the times, in a way.
So Pacific Rim next, At the Mountains of Madness next after that?
I have learned in the last few years that God laughs as we make plans. The beauty of it is, in the last few days, I spoke to Tom, who has been incredibly supportive and who said, ‘Let’s keep going, let’s make this movie down the road.’ He’s definitely that interested and that happy where we were creatively. So we have good legs to travel on, if the time and the opportunity present itself. But we’re going to fight for that to happen. I’ve been offered four or five times at different studios the chance to make this movie in what I think was the wrong way. With $20 million or $30 million less than what I need, with a contractual PG-13, and I don’t want to do it that way.
Why is that such a deal breaker for you?
Ultimately, I think the MPAA could rule the movie PG-13 because the movie and the book are not gory. If that is the outcome, fine. But I don’t want to put the PG-13 on paper, for one reason. We created Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, thinking we would be safe looking for PG-13 because we had no profanity, no sex, no gore, but we made a very intense movie in a very classical mold. And the MPAA gave it an R. They said the movie was too intense for a PG-13. The only think I know about Mountains is, I do not want it to be bloody, I do not want it to be crass, but I want it to be as intense as possible. And those discussions were had in the open. Everyone knew this was my position, that I knew I was asking the chance for the movie to be what it needs to be. I don’t think it’s a good idea to relinquish that on paper.
For all of that planning, and for it to just fall apart like that so quickly! Unbelievable!
But we do have to really give him props for sticking to his guns and refusing to compromise his vision!
Hopefully he'll get to make this project someday soon, and exactly the way he wants it, with no studio or financial restrictions!
Best of luck!
Thoughts?? Are U sad to see At the Mountains of Madness scrapped?