Guillermo del Toro Next Directing 'Crimson Peak' Horror for Legendary
by Ethan Anderton
December 3, 2012
Most people are still waiting for their first glimpse at Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim which arrives next summer (we saw some killer footage at Comic-Con), but the director is already looking to his next project, and it's actually one that's been gestating for awhile. As far back as 2008, del Toro was slated to produce a film called Crimson Peak for Universal from a script he wrote with Mimic collaborator Matthew Robbins. Now he's lined up the film as a directing job for Legendary Pictures, the same company behind Pacific Rim. I guess now that Legendary and Warner Bros. have a taste of del Toro's magic, they want him to get comfortable. As for Universal, they can still co-finance at a later date, but it's not longer just their project.
Del Toro is supposed to do a rewrite of the script with Lucinda Coxon (Wild Target) and is looking to start production in early 2014 (the filmmaker has to do press for Pacific Rim and direct an FX pilot for an adaptation of his vampire novel The Strain first). The story is described to Deadline by del Toro himself who says it's "a very set-oriented, classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story. It will allow me to play with the conventions of the genre I know and love, and at the same time subvert the old rules.” Coming from the director of Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone, that sounds perfect to me.
Del Toro elaborates that Legendary is being very accommodating when it comes to give him the freedom and resources to honor this genre. The director says:
“To me that is Robert Wise’s 'The Haunting', which was a big movie, beautifully directed, with the house built magnificently. And the other grand daddy is Jack Clayton’s 'The Innocents'. I’ve always tried to make big sized horror movies like the ones I grew up watching. Films like 'The Omen', 'The Exorcist' and 'The Shining', the latter of which is another Mount Everest of the haunted house movie. I loved the way that Kubrick had such control over the big sets he used, and how much big production value there was. I think people are getting used to horror subjects done as found footage or B-value budgets. I wanted this to feel like a throwback.”
So why is Universal not taking the project anymore, and how did this all come together now for del Toro to direct himself? Thankfully, the filmmaker was not shy about explaining:
“It was the first one I wrote after 'Pan’s Labyrinth', and I sold it to Donna Langley at Universal. She loved it, I was going to direct it, and then 'Hellboy II' happened, and then I was off to New Zealand for 'The Hobbit'. Donna suggested I move aside and produce it. It went out to directors, but I didn’t quite like anyone for it.
Finally I went through the experience of 'Pacific Rim' with Warner Bros and Legendary, and it was the best experience I have ever had making a a movie, period. I had a really good working relationship with Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, and they asked what I wanted to do next. I sent them 'At The Mountains of Madness', I sent them '[The Count Of] Monte Cristo', another project I’ve tried to do for 20 years. I also sent 'Crimson Peak', but didn’t expect a reaction because it’s not a typical Legendary movie. Much to my surprise, Thomas Tull called 9:30 at night on the day I sent it and said, ‘I don’t know how it ends, but I am on page 45 and I love it.’ Next day, Jon Jashni called and said we think it’s the best project for us, just the right size.”
This is just evidence of how long it takes to get films made, even with a director like Guillermo del Toro involved. Hell, the man has been trying to make some of these projects for two decades. And with that in mind, del Toro still hasn't given up on At the Mountains of Madness. Just because Legendary didn't want to make it immediately doesn't mean they're not interested. Del Toro says, "They love it, but we just finished Pacific Rim,” he said. “They want to let that film happen [it opens July 12] and then my hope is, down the line we can do it." A new project from del Toro, and hope for At the Mountains of Madness? That's about the best news we could ask for from he director at this point.