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Over-Attached: What Projects Will Guillermo Del Toro, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann & Martin Scorsese Actually Make?

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist February 16, 2012 at 11:58AM

It is very very hard to get a movie made. Even if you're at the top of the tree, anything can happen -- think of even AAA-lister Steven Spielberg, who couldn't get "Harvey" off the ground a few years back. So as such, the best thing a director can do is have several projects on the go, so that if one hits a snag, there's something else that could be ready to go.
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It is very, very hard to get a movie made. Even if you're at the top of the tree, a number of factors ranging from casting to financing to scripts to endless development can stall a project before it ever gets started. So as such, the best thing a director can do is have several projects on the go, so that if one hits a snag, there's something else that could be ready to go.

But some directors take this to extremes, attaching themselves to more projects than they could ever hope to make. It's understandable -- when you're a big-time director, you get offered the best projects, and of course you'd want to take them for yourself, even if it just sits in a drawer for years.

In the last week, three of the worst offenders have cropped up in the news. Ridley Scott officially signed on to helm Cormac McCarthy's "The Counselor" for his potential next project. A few days later, Michael Mann was linked to two other projects, cop flick "The Big Stone Grid" and the South China Sea-set "The Tam." And two days ago, it was announced that Guillermo del Toro wasn't just going to produce a new version of "Beauty and the Beast," he would also direct it. With all of this in play, it seemed like a good time to examine the many, many projects of the three helmers while also using the opportunity to examine the many films Martin Scorsese has brewing as well.

Del Toro
Guillermo del Toro
While he'd been a hot prospect for well over a decade, Guillermo del Toro really hit the A-list with "Pan's Labyrinth," which broke out of the genre box to earn six Oscar nominations and three wins. Ever since then, he's taken on multiple projects, and while it looked like he gave up years of his life to make "The Hobbit," he eventually backed down due to MGM's financial woes slowing the process down. He's in production right now on mega-budget monster movie "Pacific Rim," which hits in May 2013 -- but what could come after that? At a spritely 47, he seems to be planning decades ahead, so we're sure he'll manage to make a fair dent in the list below, but not everything will make it through.

"Beauty and the Beast"
What Is It? Del Toro-d take on the classic fairy tale, last seen in the 1992 Disney version, with 'Harry Potter' star Emma Watson as Belle.
Odds Of Getting Made Anytime Soon: 2/1 favorite.
Why Those Odds? The attachment of Watson leaps it up the queue, and a script is in progress by "Three Musketeers" writer Andrew Davies, so it could be ready by the time he's done with "Pacific Rim" early next year. But as we said when the news broke, there's a rival Christophe Gans film, and two network TV pilots with the same story that may sap the desire of all involved to get it done.

Haunted Mansion

"The Haunted Mansion"
What Is It? An adaptation of the classic Disney theme park attraction, harder and scarier than the 2003 Eddie Murphy version, focusing on the iconic Hatbox Ghost.
Odds Of Getting Made Anytime Soon: 3/1
Why Those Odds? One of the filmmaker's more high-profile announcements (on stage at Comic-Con), capitalizing on their theme park brand is clearly a priority for Disney, what with the "Magic Kingdom" movie from Jon Favreau coming too. And del Toro said at last year's Comic-Con that he was on a third draft of the screenplay, which suggests it's getting closer. That being said, del Toro and a Disney flick is an uneasy mix, and the studio may end up feeling antsy about a greenlight for a film unless it matches their wholesome, four-quadrant image. More likely than most to follow "Pacific Rim," but not a dead cert.  

"Saturn & The End Of Days"
What Is It? The third part of his trilogy about childhood and monsters, following "The Devil's Backbone" and "Pan's Labyrinth," this follows a young boy watching the apocalypse unfold.
Odds Of Getting Made Anytime Soon: 4/1
Why Those Odds? Del Toro seems committed this small-scale Spanish-language film, which is likely to follow the same themes as the previous two entries. But with the blockbusters calling, we can absolutely see this being something that gets regularly postponed. It'll probably get made at some stage, but don't bank on it happening anytime soon.

Frankenstein

"Frankenstein"
What Is It? Another take on a classic creature-feature, this would see del Toro favorite Doug Jones play the creature in 'a faithful Miltonian tragedy,' according to the director.
Odds Of Getting Made Anytime Soon: 5/1
Why Those Odds? Part of a four-picture deal with Universal announced back in 2009, this was never meant to get before cameras until 2013, and could figure into del Toro's gameplan still. But "Beauty and the Beast" has more momentum, and it's unclear what effect a change of leadership at Universal and the scrapping of "At the Mountains of Madness" has had on the deal, which was set to take the director through to 2017. So that goes for the other projects there -- "Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde," "Drood" and "Slaughterhouse Five."

"At the Mountains of Madness"
What Is It? A del Toro passion project, a 3D take on H.P. Lovecraft's horror classic, which nearly got rolling last year with Tom Cruise in the lead before being scrapped.
Odds Of Getting Made Anytime Soon: 10/1
Why Those Odds? This came tantalizingly close to getting made a year ago, thanks in part to the patronage of James Cameron, but ultimately a $150 million R-rated horror was too unpalatable for Universal. As such, it's probably not close to the horizon, but del Toro will likely always pursue it. If "Pacific Rim" is a billion-dollar hit, if the budget comes down, or if del Toro compromises on the rating, this could come back, but don't count on it.

Other Projects: Other than those other three Universal projects, del Toro and Ron Perlman will likely continue to talk about "Hellboy 3" in the years to come, but the second didn't perform much better than the first, so we'd be surprised if this ever got moving. As for older projects, superhero tale "Champions" was set up at United Artists, but likely died with the bankruptcy and the departure of Tom Cruise from the studio, while the Roald Dahl adaptation "The Witches" has probably long since slipped to the bottom of the pile.

Scott
Ridley Scott
Probably the most frequent culprit of attaching himself to EVERYTHING, Scott's been doing it for years -- you could write a book on all the projects that fell by the wayside over the years. Generally speaking, you can tell when he's serious about something, and when it's a fancy that'll tick along in development until the option lapses. Scott turns 75 this year and we're sure he'll work til he drops, but while he's got more energy than filmmakers a third of his age, surely only a small proportion of his films on this list will actually get done.
 
"The Counselor"
What Is It? The first feature screenplay from "No Country For Old Men" author Cormac McCarthy, about an attorney who gets over his head in the drug trade.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 3/5 favorite.
Why Those Odds? Well, the film is set up and heading for a May start date, with Michael Fassbender in early talks to take the lead role. It feels like the right kind of palate-cleanser between sci-fi outings (see below), and presumably this a lower budgeted offering which should make it easier to pull the pieces together to shoot.

Blade Runner
"Blade Runner" Sequel/Prequel
What Is It? A long-awaited follow-up to Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, set in near-future LA where lifelike replicants run amok.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 2/1
Why Those Odds? The film is certainly the most buzz worthy on Scott's slate, and that anticipation has to count for something, even if it doesn't yet have a screenwriter, or even a direction for the story. Ultimately, this depends on the numbers for "Prometheus." If that "Alien" semi-prequel is a well-received smash, this'll become a priority for all involved. If not, Scott and Alcon Entertainment might lose the will to make it, however keenly the geeks ask for it.

"Gertrude Bell"
What Is It? A biopic of the turn-of-the-century lady explorer, who helped found Iraq and Jordan, and whose writings on the Middle East are widely read to this day.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 5/1
Why Those Odds? A serious candidate for Scott's next film after "Prometheus" before "The Counselor" came along, this has the advantage of a screenplay by "The Constant Gardener" writer Jeffrey Caine, and a potential star in Angelina Jolie. But we suspect it might have missed its window as Jolie has "Maleficent" and "Cleopatra" coming up and filling her immediate calendar. Werner Herzog is also planning a similar project with Naomi Watts among the early names being tossed around to lead, and if he gets a headstart, Scott's interest might wane.

Gucci

"Gucci"
What Is It? The story of the fashion designer family, which came to a bloody end when wife Patrizia hired hitmen to kill head Maurizio.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 8/1
Why Those Odds? Scott has been developing this as far back as 2006 and in 2009, it looked to be his next film after "Robin Hood." Word then went quiet until a few months ago when Natalie Portman's name became attached to the film. But even with the Oscar-winner involved, this seems like a very vague prospect now that "The Counselor" is on the plate.

"Child 44"
What Is It? Adaptation of Tom Rob Smith's novel, about a disgraced MGB agent in the Stalin-era Soviet Union investigating a prolific child murderer who may have connections going to the very top of the party leadership.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 8/1
Why Those Odds? Another film that's been on the Scott Free slate for a while (the book that was published back in 2008), it surfaced again in discussions of what might followed "Prometheus," suggesting Scott's got a soft spot for it. But given there's only a few slots left, he's probably scratched his crime itch with the McCarthy script, although it may continue to float around for a while.

Simon Mann

"Untitled Gerard Butler African Coup Drama"
What Is It? A based-in-fact story of British mercenary Simon Mann, who is arrested in Zimbabwe in 2004 and accused of plotting a coup in Equitorial Guinea.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 12/1
Why Those Odds? This has ex-spy Robert Edwards writing a script and Gerard Butler attached to the lead. As such, you might expect it to be high on the priority list, but we cannot see a world in which this jumps ahead of everything else. The failure of "Machine Gun Preacher" also suggests that Butler isn't quite the leading man to get this thing financed.

"Brave New World"/"The Forever War"
What Are They? A pair of classic sci-fi novels, one a dystopian future by Aldous Huxley, the other an action-packed tale of humans fighting an alien race, only to discover that time has passed when they return to Earth.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 15/1
Why Those Odds: "Brave New World" surfaced a couple of years ago with Leonardo DiCaprio discussed as the lead with a screenwriter being hired in 2009, while "The Forever War" is a longtime passion project of Scott's. Neither has moved forward, and with sequels to "Blade Runner" and even "Prometheus" in the works, how can Scott possibly have time for another sci-fi project, let alone two?  

Reykjavik

"Reykjavik"
What Is It? The true story of the Icelandic summit between President Reagan and Secretary-General Gorbachev which helped pave the way to the end of the Cold War.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 20/1
Why Those Odds? This one, penned by "Becoming Jane" writer Kevin Hood, initially cropped up in 2008 but resurfaced at Cannes last summer, so you could suggest that it's an ongoing concern. At the same time, it's a political drama way, way out of Scott's wheelhouse, that studios aren't exactly going to be queueing up to finance.

"Monopoly"
What Is It? Adaptation of the board game.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 20/1
Why Those Odds? Well, on the positive side, it got new writers last year in the shape of "Ed Wood" scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. On the negative, it's an adaptation of a board game, the pitch is weirdly comedic, and despite Scott swearing that he's serious about it, it seems more like it's an elaborate joke on all of us. Universal dropped most of their Hasbro projects recently, so that could be another stumbling block, but the toy company is continuing the develop the movie on their own.

Other Projects: Other things that were announced, and basically were never heard of again: a remake of "Red Riding" that Scott has ruled out directing (Steve Zaillian was considering it at one point); the historical epic "Tripoli" which died long ago after getting very close to production; vampire flick "Passage" (which he's still producing); supernatural thriller "Stones"; Casey Affleck thriller "The Kind One"; and post-apocalyptic thriller "Blood Red Road."

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
Mann hasn't made a film since "Public Enemies" in 2009, and while that did better than the one before, "Miami Vice," it wasn't a massive success, so it may be a bit more difficult than the others on this list to get an ambitious project off the ground. Mann tends to be choosy about what he helms, and as he turns 70 next year, not all of these will wind up getting made.

"Go Like Hell"
What Is It? Drama about the competition between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari over the 24 hour motor race Le Mans.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 2/1
Why Those Odds? Widely reported to be Mann's next film, the project seems to be tailor-made for the director, who's allegedly something of a car nut. The film is reportedly heading for a spring start, but no casting has announced yet. Still, in lieu of anything else obvious, this is the frontrunner, particularly as 20th Century Fox seem keen to make it.

"The Big Stone Grid"
What Is It? Cop thriller about a pair of NYC detectives trying to break an extortion ring.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 3/1
Why Those Odds? Announced only this week, the spec script was bought by Sony last year and has attracted Mann's attention. He's going to be rewriting it with writer S. Craig Zahler and will decide after that, so at this point, time will tell. Seems like it's in his wheelhouse, though.

Agincourt

"Agincourt"
What Is It? True story of the Battle of Agincourt between Henry V's English army and the French.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 3/1
Why Those Odds? This has been in development for some time, first with Michael Hirst ("Elizabeth") writing, then more recently Benjamin Ross. But it seems to be a real passion project for Mann, who told PBS recently that, "I love medieval subject matter, I've been dying to do something of the period." But that subject matter isn't the box office gold it seemed to be a decade ago, so financing could be tricky, especially without studio backing.

"Gold"
What Is It? Based on an idea by Paul Haggis, this is a drama set among modern-day gold prospectors, inspired by "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 5/1
Why Those Odds? Six months ago, this seemed to have the advantage, with Christian Bale being sought for the lead, which surely would have ensured a studio snapping the film up. But Bale took two Terrence Malick films instead, and "Gold" seems to have gone on the backburner. Could it return down the line? All it takes is for one A-lister to get it under their skin.  

Big Tuna

"Big Tuna"
What Is It? Period gangster tale about Chicago mobster Tonny Accardo, and his successor Sam Giancana.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 7/1
Why Those Odds? Announced two years ago, this period gangster tale got some heat when "Up In The Air" scribe Sheldon Turner was hired to write it. But word has been very quiet since, and after "Public Enemies" underperformed, we're not sure anyone will finance another film in a similar vein, even with an A-list star involved.

"The Tam"
What Is It? Unclear at this point, but seems to involve the South China Sea.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 10/1
Why Those Odds? Uncovered only this week by one of our readers was a PBS interview with Mann where he talked about this project. It seems to be at the very earliest stages, so it's certainly not happening immediately, and may not even be his next, next film.

Capa

"Capa"
What Is It? Biopic of the famous war photographer.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 12/1
Why Those Odds? Again, a couple of years ago, this looked about ready to go, with Eva Green initally attached as Capa's lover Gerda Taro, then, seemingly, Gemma Arterton stepping in, with Andrew Garfield linked to the title role. But since the start of 2010 there's been nothing. We're not sure there's a film here that we'd like to see Mann make more, but this seems pretty dead at this point.  
   
Other Projects: Mann's long-talked about an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls," and while Mann's hyper-masculine approach is a good fit, he needs another big hit before he gets that financed. Also long dead is "Death of A Dissident," which would have been a biopic of radiation-poisoned Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko with Johnny Depp. Rival project "Londongrad" being actively developed at Warner Bros. with Rupert Wyatt attached to direct put a stake into the heart of that project. And the untitled Hollywood noir that would have paired Mann, Leonardo DiCaprio and "Hugo" writer John Logan seems to be dead as well.

Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
At 69, Scorsese is arguably more popular and beloved than ever before. Stars still line up to work with him, and he's got a supportive producer in Graham King, who has backed "Gangs Of New York," "The Departed," "The Aviator," "Hugo" and the Scorsese-produced "The Young Victoria." So he doesn't have a problem of getting things made, the only question is how much will he be able to get done.

"Silence"
What Is It? Drama about Portugese Jesuit priests in Japan in the 17th century.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 3/1 favorite
Why Those Odds? Initially planned to get going before "Shutter Island," this was planned to star Daniel Day-Lewis, Gael García Bernal and Benicio Del Toro, but financing never came together. On the press tour for "Hugo," however, Scorsese has consistently reiterated that he's planning on making this next, with filming intended to get underway in the summer. Last month Scorsese revealed he was waiting for "Lincoln" to wrap to see if Day-Lewis would still be on board. Whether financing is any easier this time around remains to be seen (there's been no solid news on that front), but the Oscar nomination success of "Hugo" can't hurt.

The Snowman

"The Snowman"
What Is It? Adaptation of Jo Nesbø's Scandinavian serial killer thriller novel, about a detective tracking a gruesome murderer.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 3/1
Why Those Odds? Announced late last year, Scorsese's attachment to Working Title Films' thriller, which Matthew Michael Carnahan is writing, was something of a surprise. But the relative success of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" means that, if the money for "Silence" doesn't come together, it could be an easy segue to get something made. That being said, it feels a little low-ambition for someone of the director's calibre.

"The Irishman"
What Is It? Story of Frank Sheeran, a teamster who doubled up as a hitman for organized crime.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 4/1
Why Those Odds? Scorsese fans aren't looking forward to anything on his slate as much as this one, not just seeing as it plans to reteam him with Robert De Niro for the first time since "Casino," but also that Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel are all intended to have roles. Scorsese said late last year that he hoped the film gets before cameras in the next year, but the potential scheduling conflicts are such that we suspect that it's not next. The odds of it moving after "Silence" seem better.

Sinatra

"Sinatra"
What Is It? Biopic of the legendary singer.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 6/1
Why Those Odds? No director alive is better suited to tell Old Blue Eyes' story, but it's clear that he's taking the time to get it right: he's already been through a couple of scripts, and suggested that the most recent draft by "Field of Dreams"' Phil Alden Robinson, was going to be heavily worked if not ditched entirely. Given that, and the hands-on approach of the Sinatra estate, there's an uphill battle here, but we suspect that Scorsese, and his planned star Leonardo DiCaprio, want to make this happen at some point.

"The Gambler"
What Is It? Remake of the 1974 film, about an English professor with a gambling problem.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 9/1
Why Those Odds? Announced last year, this is another DiCaprio project, which would reteam him and the director with "The Departed" writer William Monahan, for a remake of Karel Reisz's James Toback-penned James Caan vehicle. It could be pretty interesting, but it's less sexy than "Sinatra," or indeed anything else here other than "Silence," and feels like something that will tick around in the background for a while.

Furious Love

"Furious Love"
What Is It? Story of the tempestuous romance between movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Odds Of Getting Made Any Time Soon: 10/1
Why Those Odds? Announced last summer, only months after Taylor passed away, Paramount picked up the rights to Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger's book about one of the most famous actor romances of all time, and were courting Scorsese to direct. But there's no news if he ever officially signed on, the project seems to still be getting out of the gate.

Other Projects: We've covered most of it, but the big question mark is something that isn't strictly a directorial effort -- "The Five Obstructions," which was to have seen Lars von Trier challenge Scorsese to remake "Taxi Driver" in five different ways. It would have been entirely fascinating, but only days after the announcement, von Trier put his foot squarely in his mouth with his infamous Nazi comments, and word has been quiet ever since. We hope it gets going, but we suspect this might have been a passing fancy.

This article is related to: Features, Guillermo del Toro, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese


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