You really have to feel for Guillermo del Toro. First, the guy is slated to direct The Hobbit films, but has to leave the project because it’s taking too long to begin shooting and he wants to work on other projects, specifically his much-anticipated adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. And now, the director has confirmed that At the Mountains of Madness is dead.
Of course, it’s easy to point fingers at studio executives and call them out for being cowardly and whatnot, but the Playlist adds some perspective to del Toro’s announcement:
Getting an R‑rated film to do boffo box office is a hard, hard task not made any easier when you’re selling a niche, R‑rated horror film. What do “300,” “Wedding Crashers,” “The Hangover,” “The Matrix” and “The Passion Of The Christ” all have in common? Yes, they are some of the highest grossing R‑rated movies of all time, but they were also cheap, the most expensive among them was “300” with a budget of $65 million. Peanuts, compared to ‘Mountains Of Madness’ which would have cost more than double, not to mention the P&A coin that would need to be spent. As Deadline noted yesterday, the film would need to take in $500 million worldwide to break even. It would have to be the most successful R‑rated movie of all time (“The Passion Of The Christ” currently has that honor with $370 million worldwide) or do “Lord Of The Rings” or “Pirates Of The Caribbean” sized numbers. And now you begin to understand why the studio had trouble flipping the switch.
All told, this is terribly disappointing: I love del Toro’s films, and I would have loved to see his take on the Lovecraft mythos (though one could argue he’s already delved into Lovecraftian territory with the Hellboy movies). Now, it looks like del Toro’s next project will be Pacific Rim, a PG-13 film about humans facing an alien invasion. Perhaps if Pacific Rim is actually made and does blockbuster business, del Toro’s At The Mountains Of Madness can be revived and receive a true green light, but I’m not holding my breath.