Fresh off Oscar wins for Best Picture and Best Director with The Shape of Water, it appears Fox Searchlight is keen on staying in the Guillermo del Toro business. The studio announced today that it has signed a deal with del Toro that covers live-action feature film projects to be written, produced, and/or directed by the Oscar-winning filmmaker. In addition, Fox Searchlight is launching a new soon-to-be-named label focused on projects in the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres that will be curated by del Toro.
Here’s what del Toro had to say about the deal:
“For the longest time, I’ve hoped to find an environment in which I can distribute, nurture and produce new voices in smart, inventive genre films and channel my own. In Fox Searchlight, I’ve found a real home for live action production — a partnership based on hard work, understanding of each other and, above all, faith. After the wonderful experience I had with Fox Searchlight on ‘The Shape of Water,’ I am honored to have the opportunity to continue the relationship. I am more than grateful to Nancy, Steve, David and Matthew for their trust in me and for joining me on this adventure.”
This is big news for the filmmaker, who in years past has struggled to get financing or a greenlight for passion projects ranging from At the Mountains of Madness to Pinocchio. The Oscar-winning fantasy The Shape of Water was one of del Toro’s passion projects, and he finally found a home for the film at Fox Searchlight. The filmmaker went small with the budget but big with the execution, crafting a film that looks at least double what it actually cost to make, and critics and audiences swooned over this story of outsiders.
Del Toro has not yet settled on his next project. He had intended to direct a Fantastic Voyage remake for 20th Century Fox, produced by James Cameron, but that project was postponed so del Toro could enjoy the release and awards campaign for The Shape of Water. That decision paid off, but del Toro hasn’t committed to returning to Fantastic Voyage just yet. He’s said he’s taking 2018 off entirely, and for at least part of the year he’s going to be interviewing filmmakers George Miller and Michael Mann for a book he’s putting together on the craft and form of filmmaking.
It’s exciting to know that del Toro now has a home for projects he wishes to write, produce, or direct—although I wouldn’t expect Fox Searchlight to spring for something as massive in scale and budget as At the Mountains of Madness. I’m still hoping that film will get made at some point, and I’m curious to see what del Toro chooses as his next directorial project when the time comes. He was gearing up to make Pacific Rim 2 when the opportunity to do The Shape of Water arose, and while it was no doubt a tough decision, it resulted in the best film del Toro has ever made.
The first film to be released under del Toro’s new deal with Fox Searchlight will be Antlers, which tells the story of an elementary school teacher who takes in a troubled student that harbors a mysterious family secret with deadly consequences. Scott Cooper (Hostiles, Black Mass) is directing from a screenplay co-written by Channel Zero scribe Nick Antosca. Del Toro will produce alongside David Goyer and J. Miles Dale.