Guillermo del Toro Doesn’t Know Why ‘At The Mountains Of Madness’ Was Killed

Wednesday, March 9 by

Alright, I’ll admit that I was being facetious when I requested more back and forth regarding the green lighting of At The Mountains Of Madness. I can’t help but feel personally responsible for all this hullabaloo. I’m sorry. I now know to be careful what I wish for.

To recap, earlier this week it looked like all systems were go for Guillermo del Toro to begin shooting this June. Then suddenly, the project was dead. And today, he confirmed that he’ll direct Pacific Rim next. So, what happened? Nobody really knows. Including del Toro.

He answered Deadline‘s questions about the failed project. Here are some highlights:

Did Universal have issues with the budget?
“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.”

Was Tom Cruise on board?
“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.”

What’s the deal?
“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. 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.”

Can you set it up elsewhere?
“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.”

What are his personal parameters for the project?
“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…..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.”

Are you and Universal still bros?
“We have active projects where I’m a producer there and I’m still going to pursue my year and a half or two years I have left in my time with Universal. As disappointed and heartbroken as I am, for the studio, this is a business decision.”

What’s up with Pacific Rim?
“I can only say I was very happy to be able to develop it under the radar in many ways. People got it confused with the Godzilla movie a few months ago but we cleared that up. I can say the scope and imagination that have been outlined in it are absolutely appealing to me. I cannot say more, it’s not the time,” del Toro said. “The idea is unequivocally to start shooting in September. The terms of that will become public very soon, but the idea is to get behind the camera this year. I miss it terribly. Unfortunately for me, I have passed discreetly on a number of high profile projects last year in order to save myself for a project that I’ve been shepherding. That was ‘Mountains,’ and now it seems like it’s going to be ‘Pacific Rim.’ In both instances, these are projects I am generating.”

Poor guy. It’s gotta suck to have two huge projects dump out one after the other. Let’s leave him alone to play with his action figures for a bit. Dude’s earned that.