Guillermo del Toro on ‘Mountains of Madness’: ‘I’m not giving up’

June 27, 2011 | 1:43 p.m.
guillermo del toro Guillermo del Toro on Mountains of Madness: Im not giving up

Guillermo del Toro (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Guillermo Del Toro has not had an easy time bringing his dream project, an elaborate big-budget adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” to the multiplex. The filmmaker has spent years on the movie, which failed to receive a green light from Universal earlier this year after the studio had concerns about the cost of a project that was likely to receive an R rating for the intensity of its chills.

But Del Toro is optimistic that he might yet figure out a way to mount the story of a scientific expedition to Antarctica that yields unearthly finds. “I’m not giving up,” the Oscar winner said, speaking by phone recently from Canada where he’s readying his next directorial effort, the creature feature “Pacific Rim.” ” ‘Mountains of Madness’ has been with me for 13, 14 years and I really don’t want to give up on it. Look, the movies I do, I stick with them when I think, well, if I don’t do it, nobody will. … ‘Hellboy,’ if I hadn’t done it, I don’t think anyone would have. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ same thing. ‘Mountains of Madness,’ the way I plan to do it is a very peculiar take, and I think if I don’t stick with it the version I would like to see would never get made.”

The writer-director, who was just in town to present his new version of the 1973 telefilm “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” as the closing-night gala at the Los Angeles Film Festival, conceded that the main hurdles to “Mountains of Madness” remain the budget and the rating.

“I’d rather address the budget than the rating,” Del Toro said. “The movie can perfectly someday be PG-13, but contractually I need to protect it. There’s nothing in the movie that is profanity or sexual situations or any of that. But what we learned with ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ is that sometimes intensity, the intensity of the situations, garners you the R. ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,’ in my mind, should be a PG-13. It’s several intense moments [that] got us the R — I think some of the situations at the end, I don’t want to spoil it, but there are a couple of moments at the end that they deemed were too intense and I didn’t want to water down the movie.”

dontbeafraid Guillermo del Toro on Mountains of Madness: Im not giving up

Katie Holmes in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." (Miramax/FilmDistrict)

Del Toro produced and co-wrote (with Matthew Robbins) the screenplay for the new horror film, which is set for theatrical release Aug. 26 and tells the story of a precocious 10-year-old (Bailee Madison), who begins to hear creepy voices from the basement of the historic Rhode Island home where she’s sent to stay with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes). First-time feature filmmaker Troy Nixey, who previously did the short “Latchkey’s Lament,”- directed the movie, which was initially due out last year but ran into roadblocks because of studio wrangling.

“Pacific Rim” is scheduled to open in 2013, and after it’s completed Del Toro said he has every intention of turning his attention back to Lovecraft’s frigid alien landscapes. “I’m going to keep pursuing it,” he said. “Universal is still really interested in doing it. Coming out of ‘Pacific Rim,’ I intend to see if we can do it immediately.

“I knew ‘Mountains’ was a long shot,” he added. “In fact, it was a miracle we got that close to production.”

— Gina McIntyre


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17 Responses to Guillermo del Toro on ‘Mountains of Madness’: ‘I’m not giving up’

  1. J. Costa says:

    Del Toro's comment about Hellboy is ridiculous. It was already being developed by Universal studios with the other credited writer on the movie, Peter Briggs, for over two years before Del Toro was hired. (And the movie put into turnaround and then picked up by Revolution.) Del Toro was only a director for hire. If it hadn't been him, it would have been somebody else.

    • the cthulhu guardian says:

      Peter Briggs is a hack and generally a very unpleasant human being. As a long-time Hollywood executive, I’ve never met a guy with such a big a mouth and so little talent. This guy burns bridges and destroys potentially valuable alliances everywhere he goes. Zero chance of ever making it in Hollywood.

    • Snowdon says:

      Del Toro's "Hellboy" comment is only ridiculous if you chop out part of his statement and read it out of context.

      What I read in that article was that Del Toro was saying if he hadn't directed "Hellboy", then "the version [he] would like to see would never get made." Just like "At the Mountains of Madness".

      Makes a lot more sense when you put it in context with the rest of his statement.

  2. Aaron K says:

    Most of what Hollywood produces sucks. I think most people, even people who see movies quite often and are quite committed to the medium will admit that readily. Why can we not produce quality entertainment? I'm not talking about "indie" pictures either (let's face it, those have become as formulaic as the worst offenders in any medium.) I guess the only thing to do is to stop seeing movies.

    • A-COD says:

      You should get some cheese to go with that whine.

    • lovelyrita says:

      Bravo! I agree with everything you say. I used to love going to the movies but I don't go. Too much $$, time and effort for little reward. With TV having a renaissance, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Men of a Certain Age, Curb your enthusiasm, etc + netflicks, we can see everything worth seeing at home. The Hollywood studios are in the business for profit , art is not a consideration, hence the MBA's and Lawyers have taken over and the only thing creative is the bottom line…..

    • darkiscoming says:

      define "quality entertainment"? i'm rather certain your definition is in no way my definition

  3. IAN says:

    I really enjoy Del Toro's work. A very talented filmmaker. But this series of articles in the LA Times as to the myriad of projects he's doing or not doing is getting quite boring. Publicists gone mad (and the journalists that listen to them).

  4. S.O. says:

    At the Mountains of Madness
    (short animation movie)

  5. Courtney Martin says:

    Del Toro's publicist is at it again, and the LA Times has swallowed it once more. The best article on this self-promoter was the New Yorker piece, and they managed to point out archly that Del Toro is more famous for what he hasn't made than what he has. Pacific Rim has all the desperate stench of a drowning man clutching for a lifesaver.

  6. Tony Eccles says:

    Before the 00s, Lovecraft's stories and themes were poorly presented in films. Del Toro is a champion here in attempting to visually portray a popular Lovecraft story whilst attempting to be faithful to the text, I doff my cap off to him for doing this and for being so determined to get the film made.

    I think an R-rating is really needed for this project, otherwise you might as well let Disney do the film…

    One thing I don't agree with is the inclusion of Tom Cruise, this is a big personal no no for me and I really don't think this will work – believe it or not, I'd rather have Hugh Grant who I think would be more appropriate (he's been stereotyped and has appeared in too many Richard Curtis-style films). I hear you laughing and screaming and the suggestions for the lead role is partly subjective but the role doesn't require an action film lead but someone who would help bring atmosphere to the screen e.g. Edward Norton, Toby Stephens, Cillian Murphy etc etc

    Whoever the lucky person is I just Del Toro finds the good fortune to pull this epic off…and if he needs any help with its production he knows who to call…

  7. scienceorc says:

    Just make the movie without Tom Cruise. He is expensive, and their are much better theatrical actors that work for much cheaper. Then they would let him make the film.

  8. Julie says:

    I feel Del Toro is the only director who maybe be able to pull off this most difficult but wonderful stories by HP Lovecraft. I love the way he produced Pan's Labyrinth. I would not put Tom Cruise as the main actor but that maybe too late. Tom is good in a lighter role but he does not possess the qualities say old actor like James Mason had, Better choices for lead actors maybe Liam Neeson, James Purefoy or Micheal Fassbender, how ever he was a main actor in Prometheus which might clash a little.
    Basically you need a classically trained actor to give the full depth to this story. How do you create a creature on film so terrifying it would send you mad to look upon it? HP Love craft knew more than most about what fear, real fear feels like. I hope this film is finished and is good nothing at the cinema is any good the last good movie was Prometheus.

  9. Julie says:

    Make this movie an English, Canadian joint venture. Some of the best movies ever made have been difficult to fund.
    The mostly brain dead movies coming out of Hollywood right now are enough to make me sick and I grown with sadness.
    some of my favourite movies are movies with charactor and depth like
    Pan's Labyrinth
    The Orphanage
    Centurion with Michael Fassbender (low budget)
    IronClad with James Purefoy (low budget
    Master and Commander with Russel Crow (partly funded by Russel himself)
    The Nine Gates with Johnny Dep (low budget)
    All these movies I have watched many times.

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