Tuesday, March 08, 2011

It Appears that Guillermo Del Toro's Adaptation of "At the Mountains of Madness" is Dead

If I were to ask you how you would go about killing a possibly excellent adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's novel At the Mountains of Madness, what would be your first answer?

When I first read that Guillermo del Toro was working on the project I had high hopes indeed. del Toro is one of the pre-eminent horror directors in the market today and his combination of surreal and horrific imagery seems a perfect match for the Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket inspired Lovecraftian tale. That was until I read that del Toro wanted to spend $150 Million on the production of the film. That is a tremendous amount of money to spend on a film, and Lovecraft has never been a name that -- as much as he inspires gamers and defined modern horror -- has ever brought people to the theater. Given that horror movies are typically lower budget films, and that the del Toro written remake of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark came at around a $13 Million budget, making an epic $150 Million Lovecraftian epic seems even more difficult sell.

Last night, the Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision blog reported that the movie had been put in jeopardy writing, "The situation had been building to a head for a quite some time, and del Toro is not going down without a fight, exploring the option to take the project to another studio. Sources say Fox is a likely destination, since James Cameron is one of the producers and has a long association with that studio. (Other producers include Don Murphy and Susan Montford.)"

Those who follow how Hollywood works know that conflicts like these can be hints toward the demise of a project, and according to indieWire the movie is now officially dead.

As indieWire also points out, it isn't like Universal Pictures has been particularly risk averse of late, but after a string of box office fizzles it seems that they have reached their limit.

Given that the R rating and $150 budget were the major stumbling blocks, what are your thoughts?

Does a version of At the Mountains of Madness need to be rated R, or can thematically horrific moments suffice in translating the tale? Does it need gore and profanity, or just tone?

Does the film need a $150 Million budget or could a director who is less in demand than del Toro bring in a quality version for less?

One thing is certain, fans of Lovecraft are still waiting for a quality big screen version of the film. As good as the H P Lovecraft Historical Society's version of Call of Cthulhu was, it hasn't caught the imagination or passion of main stream audiences.

While we wait, might I interest you in the HPLHS's radio adaptation of Mountains? Or perhaps their upcoming film The Whisperer in the Darkness?


Wesley Robinson-Samhain1073@yahoo.com said...

I think that a very good movie could be made with very little to no gore. Lovercraft was more about tone and feeling. Good actors could convey the building horror and madness without having to show much of anything. I think hollywood has become to dependant on gore and special effects and for me it just detract from the hole thing. I understand wanting things to be realistic but unless you have had a very bad experience who has seen all that carnage for real anyway.

Taranaich said...

I don't think an R rating is at all necessary for a terrifying Lovecraft adaptation. Some of the scariest films ever made have the equivalent of a PG-13.

However, I do think AtMoM does need a decent budget to pull off the vast Elder city, and the titular mountains themselves. One can use the classic "don't reveal too much of the monster" routine for the Shoggoths, but there are at least a few effects shots necessary.

$150 million, though, seems unnecessary. A third or quarter of that would be ample.

Victor Von Dave said...

I don't know about the budget, but I would like to see it with an R rating. I find horror movies targeted to younger audiences tend to pull their punches. Although Lovecraft doesn't get into the nitty gritty gore details in his story, the expedition members die horrible grisly deaths - and when translating that to a visual medium its better to show and not tell.