“The ‘R’ did us in.”
That is what Guillermo Del Toro told New Yorker scribe Daniel Zalewski in a March 8th article, citing the reason that greenlight negotiations for AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS broke off between Universal Studios and Guillermo’s producing team, including James Cameron and Don Murphy.
Universal was unwilling to take a risk on GDT’s $150 million 3D horror epic – his dream project – as long as Guillermo inisted on making it an ‘R’ rated picture. A PG-13 film, such as AVATAR, was much more likely (in Universal’s estimation) to turn a profit. Deadline.com reported that Universal execs felt that AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS would need to gross $500 million dollar to turn a profit (due to global marketing expenses).
Universal, in the end, felt that Guillermo’s vision was too risky.
Guillermo’s unwillingness to compromise his vision is nothing new – after all, HELLBOY sat in development hell for years, if only for GDT’s insistence that Ron Perlman should play Big Red. He has shown that he is both patient and faithful to his artistic freedom.
Even so, this has got to sting.
Guillermo and his team had been working tirelessly for months on pre-production for ATMOM. Universal approved a budget for concept art, maquettes, and script rewrites, and GDT went “all-in” to make his dream project happen. Now, it is still possible that GDT could pitch this to another studio, now or on down the line, but the most likely scenario is that he moves on to a new project. This is a man who is itching to get back in the director’s chair.
Rim came on del Toro’s radar late last spring, after he had left The Hobbit and was back from New Zealand. Legendary picked up the spec in June from Travis Beacham, who in 2005 wrote A Killing at Carnival Row, to which del Toro was attached to direct for a while.
Rim, which Legendary sees as a PG-13 movie, is a monster movie that sees powerful extraterrestrial force threaten the Earth’s existence, with humans uniting to fight them off.
No deal hade been made on the Rim front, and Universal insiders say they would still like to see a Mountains movie — just not at its current state.