December 2, 2014

SPECULATION: Could AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS Be Apart Of The Universal Monsters Franchise?

Writer and director Guillermo del Toro hasn't really been mentioned often when Universal Monsters franchise is being reported. We know he's been attached for ages with Universal to reboot Frankenstein for them, along with a feature that focus on Val Helsing. The two characters are indeed apart of this new cinematic universe, and considering Legendary-Universal's relationship with del Toro he will likely have a role with those projects. However, he might let those movies go to get another monster passion project made at the studio.

Guillermo del Toro has been trying for years to get Universal to pick-up his adaptation of the classic H.P. Lovecraft horror story In The Mountains of Madness. The project had Tom Cruise attached for the lead role and del Toro even agreed to scaling-down the violence to a PG-13 rating. A budget couldn't be locked-down and combining this with the rating back-and-forth so Guillermo exited talks and made Pacific Rim instead. Ridley Scott's Prometheus having similar sets/themes also contributed to Universal giving it the axe.

I wouldn't be entirely shocked that film factors into this world as well, since it could be the kind of threat could bring them all together. Meaning, that it could have it's own period film but the Lovecraft monsters could end-up becoming a threat in the modern world. The monster heavy project is seemingly ready to go, and just needs to be greenlit by the studio. Considering a majority of the monster films were adapted from existing novels (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula), this could be a way to help del Toro get his passion project made. Lovecraft's work seems like it could fit into this world, if given more of a modern touch. Perhaps, making it one of the first new monster films added to their lineup.

Here is Guillermo talking his love of the Lovecraft monsters to the NYTimes back in 2010, the film had a bulk of it's development/design work all ready to go. I'm curious to see what unique monster designs he had come-up for the film. I love to think he brings those drawings to his meetings with Legendary and keeps pitching the film.

"We've been designing for the last 3-weeks. It's being produced by James Cameron, who's been a friend for 20-years," del Toro said, "we have avoided working together until the time came for the right project. Obviously, the difference between the novella and the movie is that Lovecraft had a gift for making everything specifically ambiguous. He would say 'the leering face loaded with madness,’ or 'the evil perverse entity of unnamable'… everything was unnamable, indescribable. When you're reading you go,'Whoa!' your brain fills those spaces. For every creature, everyone has a secret mental image of what those creatures look like. It's going to be impossible to please everyone."

 "I've been thinking of those monsters for twenty years. Fortunately for me no one has done monsters like the ones I'm doing. In all the movies ever made there's never been monsters like the ones we're doing. About two weeks ago we were visited by Dennis Muren. He looked at the designs, and he turned to us and said, 'No one has seen monsters like this ever.' I was like, [boyish grin] 'Yeah!' I was happy and vindicated and all that."

Guillermo also spoke to TheWallStreetJournal over the summer and was asked if Legendary are interested in making Mountains with him. He confirms he's already talked about it with the production company, which sounds like it could happen if they can find middle-ground on the rating. Del Toro sounds a bit more open to the idea of PG-13, since the ratings are bit more relaxed recently on fantasy violence.

"That’s exactly what I discussed with them. I said to them, that’s the movie that I would really love to do one day, and it’s still expensive, it’s still … I think that now, with the way I’ve seen PG-13 become more and more flexible, I think I could do it PG-13 now, so I’m going to explore it with [Legendary], to be as horrifying as I can, but to not be quite as graphic. There’s basically one or two scenes in the book that people don’t remember that are pretty graphic. Namely, for example, the human autopsy that the aliens do, which is a very shocking moment. But I think I can find ways of doing it. We’ll see. It’s certainly a possibility in the future. Legendary was very close to doing it at one point, so I know they love the screenplay. So, we’ll see. Hopefully it’ll happen. It’s certainly one of the movies I would love to do."
"I think there’s a really strong possibility we can do it (“At the Mountains of Madness”) at Legendary because now they are at Universal, and Universal, you may remember, almost greenlit the movie. The fact that we now have two studios together that love the material, and if they support each other, they are risking a lot less. It would be great to do it, but I’ve understood that you don’t plan your career, it just happens."
We know that Guillermo has Pacific Rim 2 up next, but he hasn't been vocal on what he wants to do beyond that. Considering all the development work that's already been done on Mountains and that fact he's been more positive about it landing at Legendary Pictures. We know that a script for his Justice League Dark adaptation has been sent to Warner Bros., but it's unknown if Guillermo will even direct that film if it get's the greenlight. I'm sure if it came down to the two options, he might go with Mountains over Justice League Dark, since he was so invested in getting that made it almost went into production.

The addition of Jay Basu (Monsters Dark Continent) might be Universal trying to get some of that that Gareth Edwards magic. Before directing Godzilla and the first Star Wars spin-off Edwards wrote and directed the first Monsters film. I'm finding it hard to imagine what Jay could be writing but if they indeed want to incorporate Mountains of Madness into this cinematic universe, he could be a solid writer to do that.

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