Every filmmaker has at least one ‘dream project’, a movie they’ve been trying to make for years but aren’t able to get off the ground for one reason or another. For filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, that project has been his long-awaited adaptation of horror icon H.P. Lovecraft’s atmospheric 1931 story “At the Mountains of Madness”.
The story follows explorers in Antarctica who uncover the remains of highly evolved creatures neither plant or animal. Investigating a gigantic mountain range, they come upon an abandoned ancient city. Their explorations underground causes something to stir from its slumber.
The film has started and stopped again over the years at various studios. Things seemed to be gathering steam three years ago when the project was at Universal Pictures. James Cameron was slated to produce and Tom Cruise was linked as a possible star, but the film’s $150 million budget and R rating meant the studio wasn’t keen on green lighting it and ultimately pulled the plug.
Del Toro then went on to make “Pacific Rim” and the upcoming “Crimson Peak” with Legendary Pictures. Now, with Universal and Legendary in bed together, talk of ‘Mountains’ has come back around and del Toro is hopeful he has the chance to make it for both of them. He’s also realised that the need for an R rating isn’t as necessary anymore with PG-13 being more relaxed these days. He tells The Wall Street Journal:
“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. I think there’s a really strong possibility we can do it 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… Hopefully it’ll happen. It’s certainly one of the movies I would love to do.”