It's been a long, hard road for Guillermo Del Toro for the past few years. He held on as long as he could with "The Hobbit" before the constant delays eventually forced his hand to get out and moving on to something else. That salvation appeared to be in the form of "At The Mountains Of Madness," the director's longtime passion project, an adaptation of the novel by H.P. Lovecraft. It seemed to be moving forward as his next gig with James Cameron producing, and Universal reacting very positively to pre-production visuals presented to suits, and moreover, the ambitious project was set to come in at the approved $150 million budget. But it appears the studio isn't quite ready to pull the trigger on an R-rated horror big budget horror film.
Deadline reports that Legendary Pictures is putting the pieces together on "Pacific Rim" and it may just leap frog 'Mountains Of Madness' as Del Toro's next film. The project first came on the radar last fall when it was reported the it was apparently being offered to Del Toro and it looks like things are now moving forward. The script was bought from a 25-page treatment by writer Travis Beacham ("Clash of the Titans") back in May, and is set in a near future where 'malevolent creatures' threaten earth, and humanity must use advanced technology to fight them off. Clearly, for a director who likes to imagine new worlds, this could be a good fit.
At any rate, Universal is apparently getting cold feet on 'Mountains Of Madness' despite their love for the project. With a big price tag and an R-rating, the film would need to do big numbers to recover its cost and it's a major gamble to make for the studio. While everyone will be quick to point to "Inception" as an example of visionary directors being given free reign with box office success, that film was PG-13 and thus able to sell tickets to a much broader swath of moviegoers. While we we hope Del Toro gets to make his dream project, we do understand the studio's hesitancy to greenlight the project.
Speaking of which, io9 reported earlier today that according to producer Don Murphy, Tom Cruise was set to star in 'Mountains Of Madness' with a June start date lined up. However, reps for Cruise tell us he's not confirmed and the summer date has long been in the cards. As Deadline elaborates, even with Cruise circling, Universal don't seem ready to take a chance on the film.
If Del Toro directs "Pacific Rim" he will apparently try and mount 'Mountains Of Madness' afterward but another option might be to try and find a way to make the film with a PG-13 rating on a smaller budget. We'll have to wait and see how this one plays out.