The logic behind Guillermo del Toro’s madness

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Guillermo del Toro all but winked at us the other day that he’ll make his adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s 1931 novella ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ his first movie since things went awry with ‘The Hobbit.’ When we asked him in an interview on Friday whether it would indeed be his next film, as we were hearing, he flashed an impish grin and said, ‘We’ll see.’

This morning sources tipped that ‘Madness’ would indeed be his next movie, and it’s been something of an open secret in Universal circles that this is the one the auteur would go with. Now Deadline is reporting that it is, and, in something of a surprise, that James Cameron will produce, and that it will be in 3-D.

Fans have been calling for ‘Madness’ for years, and in a way it’s a perfect move at this moment. With the director losing two years on ‘The Hobbit,’ it’s now four years and counting since he last directed a picture. [Update -- Make that a non-sequel or new picture; he did of course direct ‘Hellboy 2' in 2008.] His fans — and no doubt Del Toro himself — don’t want to keep waiting. ‘Madness’ is difficult material to shoot, both narratively and logistically — it’s basically a monster movie set in Antarctica — but it is a movie that could be made with relative ease in other respects. Del Toro has a script that’s basically ready, and a studio in Universal that’s hungry for a hit. And given that the stars of his films are the creatures, casting shouldn’t be the usual logjam either.

So the director, who is currently in post on ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,’ could get going on this pretty much right afterward. (He had told us he could shoot as early as the first quarter of 2011.)


But there’s also a more specific Hollywood reason to choosing this over, say, ‘Frankenstein,’ another Universal project he’d flirted with. When you have a chance to make a risky passion project, you don’t wait.

Christopher Nolan did just that after ‘The Dark Knight’ by getting Warner Bros. to fast-track ‘Inception.’ Now Del Toro is doing the same with his own beloved film. He once told the L.A. Times that ‘Madness’ was ‘my obsession,’ and there’s little doubt it’s the one closest to his heart — and also, given the subject matter, the kind of film that’s extremely hard to make unless your stock is at Google levels.

And it is that high. Del Toro continues to have insane amounts of fan credibility, and he and agent Robert Newman have been wooed by pretty much every studio in town since the director landed back in Los Angeles last month.

Like most filmgoers, we’re excited to see what Del Toro does with the material — but not half as excited, we bet, as the filmmaker is to get moving on his dream after his last project became such a nightmare.

— Steven Zeitchik


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