- 28 June 2010
- By Gerard Wood
Guillermo Del Toro’s departure from the Hobbit movies has left many of us with conflicted feelings. On the one hand it’s disappointing that he won’t be the One to guide Tolkien’s beloved fantasy from the page to the screen. A constellation of qualities make him the ideal director for this project, not least his talent as a director, his obvious love and understanding of the fantastic and the bizarre, and his remarkable sensitivity and appreciation for the word on the page. If you have any doubt about this last quality, check out the superb H. P. Lovecraft documentary, Fear of the Unknown, in which Del Toro talks knowledgeably about Lovecraft’s life, peculiar psychology and even more bizarre fiction. As well as being a superbly crafted analysis of Lovecraft and his fiction, the doco also features Neil Gaiman (who clearly admires Lovecraft’s contribution but can’t help poking fun at some of Lovecraft’s writing techniques!), John Carpenter and others.
Disappointment that Del Toro won’t be going there and back again with Bilbo Baggins has been lessened of course by news that Peter Jackson will be accompanying Bilbo all the way to the Lonely Mountain and back to Hobbiton. If not Del Toro, who better than Peter Jackson? I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on many of us. When it was revealed that PJ would not be directing the Hobbit movies, we were saying if not Jackson, who better than Del Toro?
Back to out conflicted feelings. Disappointed as many of us are, it’s almost as exciting to contemplate what Del Toro might be working on next, especially as he’s been linked to a remarkable (and almost obscene) number of projects as writer, director or producer. In case you missed it, Collider posted an interview with Del Toro at the Saturn awards the other day in which he speaks for over 20 minutes about many of the pies he has his fingers in, including Hellboy 3, Frankenstein, At the Mountains of Madness, and Saturn and the End of Days. He also has something to say about his experience working on the Hobbit, clearly a sensitive subject, and about his continuing work with Jackson and team on the screenplay. Definitely worth checking out.
There’s no word yet on exactly which project he will tackle next, although it looks like an announcement will be made at Comic-Con in July. He has whittled down the field of possibilities to just three however. One of the deciding factors for Del Toro is a desire to be shooting by May next year and the one thing the three most likely projects have in common is screenplays well advanced.
So where does that leave us? Although it’s unclear exactly which project will be next, he does make it clear that some of the most highly anticipated projects will not be next in line, and this includes the long talked about adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. The reason? "It's very difficult for the studios to take the step of doing a period-set, R-rated, tentpole movie with a tough ending and no love story." Frankenstein also won’t be next off the rank as the screenplay is "not ready. That's the problem. It's not an easy one to crack. There's been so many versions, and I really believe what we're doing is something new, without changing the novel." Design work is underway however and Doug Jones (Abe Sapien in Hellboy 2) has been confirmed in the role of Frankenstein’s monster, so we could anticipate this one to be the second or, more likely the third movie off the rank. Hellboy 3 also won’t be next and for the same reason, "the Hellboy screenplays are not quick to write. For whatever reason, they end up being very complicated." There is a suggestion that Hellboy 3 might be the movie after next however.
Other projects he is attached to include an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Death: The High Cost of Living, but his involvement will be as producer it seems, as he’s convinced that Gaiman is the only suitable director. And he says nothing about other high profile projects he’s been attached to, including Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Slaughterhouse 5 or, most interestingly, Drood.
He does reveal that the script he really wants to do started 15 years ago, which clearly rules out his adaptation of Dan Simmon’s Drood as that was only published last year. But I’d be surprised if Drood is not in the top three. Del Toro was keen to work on this one when it was announced last year and back then it was suggested it would be first off the rank when the two Hobbit movies were done and dusted.
Is his silence about Drood simply a cunning ploy to put us off track ahead of an announcement? Or does it mean that he’s no longer interested. I hope not. Time will tell.
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