Del Toro & Tom Cruise Still Hope To Make AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS

Deadline has confirmed that Guillermo del Toro, who really can't catch a break and must be desperate just to helm anything right now, is 100% locked in to direct Legendary Pictures' new monster movie Pacific Rim after Universal balked on fronting the $150 million needed (and previously promised) for his R-rated adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness. Pacific Rim, a PG-13, big scope tentpole, will film this September for a release in 2013, which is a cruel twist of fate for the director as Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, a movie he bailed on because of incessant studio delays, will begin filming in a few weeks time for a release next Christmas, months before Rim is ready. The movie Gods haven't been kind to Del Toro lately. In a fascinatingly open interview Del Toro has afforded Mike Fleming at Deadline, which you absolutely should read, the Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director reveals that he is still in the dark over why Universal made the decision to hault production this past week... Del Toro claims he met all the studio requirements that were laid out to him last year - including the approved $150 million project - and the decision to can the movie just a week before production offices were to open in preparation of serious casting, and after A-lister Tom Cruise had already committed himself to a June shoot, is as 'puzzling' to him as it was to us. Here's some highlights from the interview that you should really check out in full. On his surprise that Universal canned the film they had been so excited about....
€œThey 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.€
Could The Film Have Made $500 million, a figure interviewer Mike Fleming says Universal were hoping for with a $150 million budget?
...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.
After 20th Century Fox had shown interest, could the movie end up at another studio?
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.
On other studio's interest?
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.
On Tom Cruise remaining committed...
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 do admire Del Toro's enthuisiasm that he one day might get to make At The Mountains of Madness and the way he wants to make it, but when you have the backing of James Cameron, a lead star in Tom Cruise and Universal still won't go for it... I don't see how it will ever get made. The only I can think of is if Pacific Rim becomes a GIANT hit for Legendary Pictures in 2013 and Cruise has a string of successes, starting with his return to the Mission Impossible franchise later this year. Then, maybe, it will happen. In the meantime, make sure you sign this online petition (found via Bleeding Cool) that a Guillermo Del Toro fan has put together to convince Universal to change their minds about not financing 'Madness' this year. It won't make any difference to the film that is now dead and Del Toro has moved on to Pacific Rim now, but showing your support for a director who must be severely depressed inside by the state of the industry, certainly won't do any harm.
Dear Universal Studios, €œAt The Mountains of Madness€ scares you. You fear the risk in funding such a movie. You fear the film will not bring in enough profit, when in fact a fresh film like this is exactly what the industry needs. This film will take the horror genre to new places. This is your chance to be credited as a modern day pioneer studio. This is your chance to be the studio willing to take the risk and make something original in a time of uninspired remakes and reboots. Fearing the outcome of a risky venture is understandable, but risks are unavoidable. This petition should ease your fears of the outcome somewhat, as everyone signing it is doing so as a promise to see this movie in theaters. Yes, we are asking you to take us on our word. We want to show you just how much this movie is needed. We want you to make €œAt The Mountains of Madness€. We want it to scare us. Sincerely, The Undersigned
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.