On paper, a blockbuster fantasy epic written and directed by two-time Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro, with three-time Oscar winner James Cameron producing and world’s biggest movie star Tom Cruise in the lead role, sounds like a recipe for box office success.
However, despite boasting a trio of top talents, del Toro’s long-gestating At the Mountains of Madness just couldn’t come together for a myriad of reasons. For one, the filmmaker refused to budge from an R-rating, while Universal felt the screenplay bore too many similarities to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, even though the source material was published in 1936.
You get the distinct feeling that del Toro won’t abandon his dream of making it happen until he’s either retired or dead, and he admitted during a recent appearance on The Kingcast he still hasn’t abandoned At the Mountains of Madness.
“The thing with Mountains is, the screenplay I co-wrote fifteen years ago is not the screenplay I would do now, so I need to do a rewrite. Not only to scale it down somehow, but because back then I was trying to bridge the scale of it with elements that would make it go through the studio machinery. I don’t think I need to reconcile that anymore. I can go to a far more esoteric, weirder, smaller version of it. You know, where I can go back to some of the scenes that were left out. Some of the big set pieces I designed, for example, I have no appetite for. Like, I’ve already done this or that giant set piece.
I feel like going into a weirder direction. I know a few things will stay. I know the ending we have is one the most intriguing, weird, unsettling endings, for me. There’s about four horror set pieces that I love in the original script. So, you know, it would be my hope. I certainly get a phone call every six months from Don Murphy going ‘Are we doing this or what? Are you doing this next or what?’ and I say ‘I have to take the time to rewrite it.'”
His dedication and commitment can’t be faulted, and even though del Toro estimates he’s spent well over a decade of his career working on projects that never even got made, At the Mountains of Madness is going to stick with him until somebody takes the plunge and makes it happen, and surely there’s got to be a streaming service out there that fancies taking the risk.