Guillermo del Toro loves movies. This much we know for sure. The Oscar-winning filmmaker loves movies so much, that he took a bit of flack in the past for being attached to so many projects at once, only for a select few of them to actually come to fruition. But those who lamented his litany of projects neglected to understand how Hollywood works, nor appreciate that del Toro’s passionate candor was the only reason we knew of so many of these projects.
The truth is, a number of directors of del Toro’s stature develop multiple projects at once. In Hollywood, you never know exactly when a movie is going to be greenlit to shoot. You can put all your eggs in one basket, only for the entire project to fall apart weeks—or even days—before filming is due to begin. If you have nothing else developed at that time, it’s back to Square One.
But in del Toro’s case—and in the case of a number of other filmmakers like him who are far less forthcoming with the number of projects they’re currently developing—he’s spinning many plates at once. This means that when a project like At the Mountains of Madness gets scuttled, del Toro can move right into Pacific Rim, because the latter project was already being developed. But this also means that a number of the projects del Toro has developed have yet to get made.
The director took to Twitter today to run down a list of screenplays that he’s written or co-written that have yet to come to fruition, lamenting the time and work lost on these projects that never happened. It’s a fascinating and infuriating list (will someone please pay for At the Mountains of Madness already?!), but it’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes projects take decades to happen. Steven Spielberg developed Lincoln for a very long time before the film was finally made, and del Toro’s next project—a stop-motion animated Pinocchio for Netflix—has been in development since at least 2012.
Here’s the list of unproduced Guillermo del Toro screenplays that the filmmaker revealed:
You may be wondering how close some of these projects came to happening, in what form, and why they haven’t happened yet. Luckily, again due to del Toro’s passionate candor, we have some extensive information on some of these projects. So let’s take a closer look at what they are, with the hopes that someday del Toro’s screenplays will be produced.
At the Mountains of Madness
Speaking with Collider in 2017, del Toro reflected on the project’s cancellation, noting that he could have lied to the studio and agreed to PG-13, but opted not to:
“We thought we had a very good, safe package. It was $150 [million], Tom Cruise and James Cameron producing, ILM doing the effects, here’s the art, this is the concept, because I really think big-scale horror would be great … but there was a difference of opinion; the studio didn’t think so. The R [rating] was what made it. If Mountains had been PG-13, or I had said PG-13 … I’m too much of a Boy Scout, I should have lied, but I didn’t.”
So could the project still happen? In 2012, in the wake of the release of Prometheus, del Toro noted that similarities to Ridley Scott’s film could mean At the Mountains of Madness never gets made. But never say never. That was a long time ago, and del Toro has unending passion for this particular project.
Justice League Dark
In 2013, del Toro revealed he intended to pitch Warner Bros. on a Justice League Dark movie called Heaven Sent, which would bring to life the DC Comics characters who are kind of like the “weird” Justice League—folks like Constantine and Madame Xanadu. He began work on the script, with Constantine as the lead and Swamp Thing, Etrigan, Zatanna, The Floronic Man, and others poised to appear. In July 2013, del Toro expressed enthusiasm for the project and noted that another writer was due to come aboard:
“I can tell you it’s the writing project I’ve enjoyed the most in English. Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth are in Spanish, but of all my writing and screenplays, this was so much fun because it was character. It was a pretty easy plot, but the character interaction, Swamp Thing with Deadman and Demon, it’s so joyful for me to write that. Constantine is such a great character, so dry. I think it could be a great movie. I don’t want to do many changes until the proper writer comes onboard.”
But in the wake of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, del Toro revealed that his film would now have to fit inside the DC Extended Universe, and by 2015 he had moved on to other projects like Crimson Peak and eventual Best Picture-winner The Shape of Water. Meanwhile, the project remains languishing in development hell at Warner Bros.—Doug Liman was attached to direct for a brief spell after del Toro left, but he moved on as well.
This one we don’t know too much about, but in 2008 del Toro and his friend and fellow Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón were due to team up on a stop-motion animated adaptation of the Roald Dahl book The Witches. That project never came to fruition, and in June 2018 it was announced that del Toro and Cuarón would instead now executive produce a new adaptation of The Witches with Oscar-winning Forrest Gump filmmaker Robert Zemeckis writing and directing for Warner Bros.
Beauty and the Beast
In 2014, del Toro dropped out of directing the Warner Bros. project but still hoped to produce the film, owing to scheduling issues—at the time he was in post-production on Crimson Peak and developing The Shape of Water and Pacific Rim 2. Disney’s version was in the works at this point as well, and clearly they liked del Toro’s casting as Watson eventually went on to play Belle in that studio’s musical adaptation. Warner Bros. and del Toro’s version, meanwhile, never came to fruition.
The project actually got pretty far along, with filming due to begin in late 2017 before del Toro asked 20th Century Fox to push production back so he could enjoy the awards season run of The Shape of Water. This turned out to be a wise decision, as del Toro went on to win a bevy of Oscars for the 2017 love story. But instead of returning to Fantastic Voyage after the Academy Awards, del Toro instead took 2018 off from directing entirely, and it’s unclear when or if he’ll return to Fantastic Voyage.
The Count of Monte Cristo
Del Toro has been wanting to make a new adaptation of the classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo for over a decade now, and he planned a radical take on Alexandre Dumas’ classic. His version would have seen disgraced sailor Desmond Dantes’ quest for revenge set against a steampunk backdrop, with Desmond wielding a mechanical prosthetic hand that could morph into a gun. The script was fueled by del Toro’s personal life, and fairly recently he said he’d still like the film to get made someday.
Pacific Rim 2
For a time after Crimson Peak, it looked as though del Toro would be returning to the realm of blockbusters to make Pacific Rim 2. He began working on the screenplay as far back as 2014 with writer Zak Penn, and that same year announced his intention to return to the director’s chair. Development got pretty far along, but after Legendary’s sale to Chinese Wanda Group and a couple of delays, del Toro stepped back and announced that Steven S. DeKnight would take over as director. Del Toro explained his decision to vacate the director’s chair:
“The timing started to suck. I had this little movie that I wanted to do—The Shape of Water—very, very much. At one point it was Justice League Dark or Pacific Rim, I said, ‘Let’s go to Pacific Rim.’ The reality is they said, ‘We’re gonna need to postpone,’ because they were changing hands—Legendary was going to be sold to China, to a Chinese company [called the Wanda Group]. They said, ‘We’ve gotta wait nine months’ and I said, ‘I’m not waiting nine months, I’m shooting a movie,’ and I went and shot [The Shape of Water] and we chose Steven DeKnight.”
As del Toro notes in his tweets, his script for Pacific Rim 2 was very different, and he previously teased making Charlie Day’s character the antagonist while continuing the story of Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi’s characters. That wasn’t exactly the story of Pacific Rim Uprising, which saw a number of other screenwriters come on in del Toro’s wake to rework the story when Hunnam became unavailable.
Unfortunately, since that time we haven’t heard much of anything, though it’s always possible this one comes back around at some point.
The Hulk TV Pilot
In 2010, it was announced that del Toro was teaming up with Battlestar Galactica executive producer David Eick to create a new TV series revolving around The Hulk for ABC and Marvel TV. This was actually the first Marvel TV series announced for ABC, preceding Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which debuted in 2013 after The Avengers film. However, after The Avengers was a huge hit and everyone sparked to Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal, Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb says the studio decided that del Toro’s new Hulk TV series wasn’t the right fit anymore.