Special Features – The Future of Guillermo del Toro

David Bishop sorts through the multitude of projects on Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming slate to see which ones have a shot at reaching the screen…

Visionary director / producer / writer / filmmaking machine Guillermo del Toro has about a million projects on the go. It seems his name is never far away when a major new franchise rears its head, on top of the ridiculous amount of self-starting projects he seems to announce on an almost daily basis. So, with the recent release of the (mind-blowing) Pacific Rim trailer, it seems a good time to get things straight and find out what’s concrete, what’s a possibility and what’s just wishful thinking.

The Hobbit – “But he’s no longer involved you complete moron.” I hear you cry. Well indeed, but such was his involvement that he still got a co-writer credit for his troubles. Whether his influence will be felt in the finished project is another matter but it’s good to see that his months of effort are still being recognised by Jackson.

Likelihood of release – Ummmm, it’s already out. Duh.

How excited are we? Some of us are and some of us couldn’t give a monkey’s. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has got a bit of a mixed response.

Pacific Rim – The poster is amazing, the trailer is even more awe-inspiring and it appears we’ve already got the film quote of 2013. This mash-up of giant robots (Jaegers) and giant monsters from another dimension (Kaiju) is a mouth-watering prospect, but in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, could be little more than another Transformers. However, with del Toro’s love of fantasy and monsters, we’re almost guaranteed something special. While not a highly original concept, it’s something that hasn’t been seen in American cinema all that often. Combine that with a lack of previous source material and Warner Bros. are putting a lot of faith in this. Good on ‘em.

Likelihood of release – Guaranteed; pencil July 12th 2013 into your diaries.

How excited are we? Before the trailer – very. After the trailer – off the charts.

Crimson Peak – A fairly recent development this one with not much info to go on, except that it’s a haunted house story in the fashion of The Haunting or The Innocents (both very enticing reference points). Del Toro explains – “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.” All very exciting stuff and his first all-out horror movie for quite a while (not including films he’s produced).

Likelihood of release – Very high. Looks set to be his next project, even before Pacific Rim 2.

How excited are we? A full blown horror going back to the genre which made del Toro’s name? Count us in.

Pacific Rim 2 – Apparently Warner Bros.’ is so confident in the success of del Toro’s monster-mash that they’ve commissioned a script for a sequel by original writer Travis Beacham already.

Likelihood of release – Depends on the success of the first film. It’s certainly a risky prospect, with no previous source material for audiences to draw upon and a lack of big name stars. Hopefully the first one won’t end up being the John Carter of 2013 and we’ll actually get to see the sequel. Even if it is a success there’s no guarantee of del Toro’s involvement.

How excited are we? We haven’t even seen the first one yet. Give us a chance.

Mama – Del Toro’s producing credits have been a mixed bag. On the plus side we’ve had the beautifully told The Orphanage and the shocking and unexpected Julia’s Eyes. On the downside Splice was an average Cronenberg knock-off and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was fairly unremarkable. Still, Mama has a suitably terrifying trailer which should pull in the hard-core horror crowd.

Likelihood of release – Again, it’s guaranteed. Run to your local cinema on February 22nd.

How excited are we? While its director is fairly unknown (this is Andres Muschietti’s debut feature length film), the trailer and cast alone make this a tantalising prospect. One to watch out for.

The Incredible Hulk (TV Series) – This one has been on the cards for what seems like ages now but it’s unclear how close it is to actual completion. Also unknown is how this will tie into the current Marvel Universe. Originally it was going to be unconnected to the films but with the colossal success of The Avengers, and more specifically the Hulk character, Marvel may want to go in a different direction. Del Toro is set to write and direct the pilot.

Likelihood of release – Seems quite strong. The Hulk has a lot more pulling power after The Avengers and the character has always enjoyed more success on TV than in the cinema. Whether that still remains true today is unclear and it’s slightly worrying that word has gone quite quiet on this one.

How excited are we? After Louis Leterrier and Ed Norton’s failed attempt at the character, it seemed like the Hulk was desperate for a radical interpretation from a visionary director. However after Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo nailed the characterisation of both Bruce Banner and ‘the other guy’, it seems a tad unnecessary to see yet another interpretation (the fourth in ten years). Wait and see on this one.

Pinocchio – The 1940 adaptation is probably Disney’s scariest film and therefore seems ideal material for del Toro to draw from. Coupled with the news that this will be stop motion and we have something very intriguing.

Likelihood of release – Who knows? It’s been on the plate for the while and before Crimson Peak was announced it was rumoured to begin filming next summer. This seems unlikely now.

How excited are we? Imagine the opening to Hellboy 2 across a whole movie. Need we say more?

At the Mountains of Madness – Little of H.P. Lovecraft’s work has found its way to the big screen and it’s not difficult to see why. Mountains especially doesn’t really lend itself to the cinematic treatment, with a barebones plot and strange atmosphere. However while the plot would certainly have to be expanded, if anyone was going to pull it off it would be del Toro. The final third will be especially intriguing, with plenty of scope for terrifying monstrosities.

Likelihood of release – While things seemed to be going along smoothly, with Tom Cruise to star and James Cameron to produce, Universal bulked at the budget and pulled the plug. While that appeared to be the end, del Toro has been getting along so well with Legendary that they might be reviving the project.

How excited are we? Trying not to get our hopes up as this may not happen but if del Toro makes only one more project, it really should be this one.

Frankenstein – News has been quiet on this one lately (probably because of everything above) but there was talk of this while del Toro was still attached to The Hobbit. Whether we need another version of this is another matter however the director did let slip that this wouldn’t be an adaptation of the novel, instead, he’s creating an entirely new story involving Shelley’s most famous creation. It worked for Bride of Frankenstein so this could be a real treat.

Likelihood of release – No idea. This just seems like another project del Toro won’t have time for at present, which is a shame because if he is telling an original story then this would be right up his street.

How excited are we? The character suits the director’s sensibilities perfectly but it may be a case of being too perfect and could end up being another Tim Burton / Alice in Wonderland effort. It’s unlikely we’ll ever find out though.

Star War Episode VII – It seems that with every new franchise entry, del Toro’s name is branded about. However, this time the director has been in actual talks with the producers. How far those talks actually went is unclear, but we can’t imagine he’s all that serious about directing.

Likelihood of release – Guaranteed. However, it is very unlikely to be in del Toro’s hands.

How excited are we? Most will be very excited by a new Star Wars film but the Lucas universe doesn’t seem like a great fit for del Toro. It will almost certainly go to a less arty pair of hands.

The Strain (TV series) – Based on the trilogy of novels written by del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Strain is about a virus turning the human population into vampires. Plans are afoot for FX to adapt this into a TV series. While the books aren’t brilliant (the two author’s styles don’t really mesh), it is structured around the style of a TV series making it ripe for adaptation. Del Toro will write and direct the pilot with Carlton Cuse (Lost) acting as show runner.

Likelihood of release – Very high as FX has already green lit the pilot. Hopefully it will make it to air with at least one full season.

How excited are we? There’s no shortage of brilliant TV drama at the moment but one more would certainly be welcome. Also, with the books already complete, there’s no chance of a Lost ‘making-it-up-as-we-go-along’ approach being at work here. This may actually work.

Book of Life (formally Day of the Dead) – A sensible title change to avoid confusion with George A. Romero’s zombie classic (actually, it’s to avoid confusion with a Pixar film in development with the same name). This animated film is not about zombies attacking a military outpost, but is set against the backdrop of the famous Mexican festival. Del Toro will produce with Jorge R. Gutierrez directing.

Likelihood of release – Fox animation has announced a release date of 10th October 2014 so a while to wait.

How excited are we? Without much plot info and no previous source material to go with, there’s not much to get excited about at the moment.

Alma – Another DreamWorks animated film with the producing guidance of del Toro. This one appears a bit more unique though, telling the story of a toy shop which turns children into dolls for its collection. Based on a short film.

Likelihood of release – Seems quite strong with nothing to indicate it won’t happen, and currently due in  2015 according to IMDb.

How excited are we? DreamWorks’ animation has usually been a step behind the competition with endless sequels and films full of pop-culture references and little else. However this sounds a lot more exciting, especially with the horror angle, and can hopefully follow the form the studio found with How to Train Your Dragon.

Hellboy 3 – No plot details and not much of anything else to be honest. It would be amazing to see another entry but we could be waiting a while.

Likelihood of release – This is more wishful thinking than anything else, but both del Toro and Mike Mignola have talked about its possibility. Hellboy 2 made money though, so all that stands in its way is del Toro getting round to writing the thing. We shouldn’t have too long to wait then.

How excited are we? Hellboy 2 was one of the greatest comic book adaptations ever made and improved ten-fold on the first film. If the next one can follow that trend then we’ll be in for a treat.

There’s probably a million and one projects going round the director’s head but the above should keep him busy for at least a decade or two. Expect this list to be out of date in a week…

David Bishop

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