News

Five Lost Guillermo del Toro Movies His Fox Searchlight Deal Could Revive

Now that the Oscar-winning director of The Shape of Water has partnered with the studio that produced it, he could finally realize some of his biggest passion projects.

by | April 4, 2018 | Comments

Ryan Fujitani

Thank goodness Fox Searchlight Pictures saw the potential in Guillermo del Toro‘s off-kilter romantic fantasy about a mute woman who falls in love with a fish-man. The gamble paid off, too; The Shape of Water took home four Oscars — including Best Director and Best Picture — from a whopping 13 nominations and earned a slew of accolades along the way.

Yesterday, the presidents of Fox Searchlight announced not only that they had officially inked a deal with del Toro to cover his live-action features, but also that they planned to create a new label for horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films, including movies produced and curated by del Toro himself. It sounds like a match made in heaven. Or a top secret Cold War research facility.

All of this got us thinking about the countless projects del Toro has been forced either to abandon or postpone indefinitely through the years, and what this new deal could mean for some of them. Del Toro’s a passionate filmmaker, and he’s famous for trying to keep half a dozen plates spinning at any given time, so this list isn’t comprehensive by any means. But if this Fox Searchlight deal does open up some new opportunities for him, here are a few long-gestating films and passion projects he could finally bring to fruition.


1. The Haunted Mansion Remake

The Haunted Mansion, 2003 (Photo by Walt Disney Studios courtesy Everett Collection)

We’ve already talked about the as-yet-not-finalized acquisition of 21st Century Fox by The Walt Disney Company and how it could impact the future of Marvel Studios (for the better, mostly). The hope and expectation is that Disney will leave Fox Searchlight alone, since the former lacks a proper distribution outlet for prestige projects.

So now that Fox and Disney will presumably hold hands and make nice, the Searchlight deal with del Toro could mean he’ll have the opportunity to revive the Haunted Mansion remake that Disney initially recruited him to write and produce almost eight years ago. Del Toro is a self-professed megafan of the Disneyland ride, calling it a “way of life” for him when he spoke at the 2010 Comic-Con panel where his involvement was first announced, and he already had a specific vision for the film.

We’ve only gotten a few updates here and there since then, noting that del Toro had written and submitted a script that was well-received; that some revisions were being done; that Ryan Gosling was in talks to star; and that del Toro would love to direct it himself if his schedule permitted. As far as we know, this thing is still in limbo, but if nothing else, we’d like to see it get made just to erase our memories of the 2003 film starring Eddie Murphy, a dud that scored just 13% on the Tomatometer.


2. The Vampire-Hunting Luchador Movie

The Strain (Photo by FX Networks)

If you watch FX’s The Strain, which was co-created by del Toro, you’re already familiar with the character of Angel (Joaquín Cosío), a former wrestler who made his first appearance in the show’s second season. In an episode titled “The Silver Angel”, he’s introduced in a pre-credits scene via a fictional low-budget black-and-white action flick about a luchador who fights vampires. You see where this is going.

It turns out del Toro has wanted to film a feature-length version of that little snippet for a long time, and The Strain simply provided him a taste of what it could be like. Reports of this first surfaced when some eagle-eyed journalists spotted a few curious lines in a 2015 interview with the Guardian, mentioning a pet project of del Toro’s called “Silva” and centering on “a Mexican masked wrestler who discovers that all politicians are vampires.” (Del Toro quickly clarified that it was “Silver”, not “Silva”, and the mistake was due to his accent.)

Fast forward a couple years to mid-2017, and in an interview about the “The Silver Angel” with SYFY (AU), del Toro casually mentions, “It’s a character I’ve been thinking about for ages. I wanted to do a whole feature film at one point, and I may still do it. It’s just a genre that I love.” He also specifies that the movie he wants to make is literally the one on display in that pre-credits sequence.

Sure, it sounds a lot like something Robert Rodriguez dreamed up between filming Spy Kids sequels, but this is an idea that del Toro has been mulling over for decades, and the minutes-long sequence he shot for The Strain likely left him (blood)thirsty for more. It’s the type of project that sounds perfectly suited for the new label Fox Searchlight announced.


3. The Bloody Benders

Adam Robitel (Photo by Justin Lubin/Universal Pictures)

Back in 2012, when he was still primarily referred to as “a protégé of Bryan Singer”, Adam Robitel (Insidious: The Last Key) wrote a spec script for a film about a real-life family known as the Bloody Benders, who murdered an estimated 20 people in their one-room Kansas inn during the 1870s. Most of us only found out about the script because in late April of that year, Deadline reported that Guillermo del Toro had optioned it alongside Angry Films, the producers of the only-just-Rotten Real Steel. Because serial murder is a great palate cleanser when you’ve spent a year with Hugh Jackman and giant rock’em sock’em robots.

In actuality, Angry Films’ Susan Montford and Don Murphy had partnered on films with del Toro before, including probably the biggest missed opportunity of del Toro’s career (more on that below). But around the time they decided to buddy up on The Bloody Benders, del Toro had just wrapped shooting Pacific Rim, so they had to put it off for a while. We are currently still in the midst of that “while”, and we’ve heard pretty much nothing else since the initial announcement. This would be a great time to revive that project, and considering del Toro never planned to direct the film himself, it would make a pretty excellent addition to the yet unnamed genre branch of Fox Searchlight.


4. The Left Hand of Darkness

The Count of Monte Cristo, 2002 (Photo by Walt Disney courtesy Everett Collection)

In the late 1990s, Guillermo del Toro’s father was kidnapped and held for ransom for 72 days, and upon his release, del Toro packed up his whole family and left Mexico for good. The experience left its mark on the director, who, in his own words, lives “in involuntary exile.”

Years prior to that, Roman Coppola had approached del Toro about working on a Western adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo, and del Toro had completed a draft with Kit Carson and Matthew Robbins (co-writer on Mimic and Crimson Peak). When his father was taken, he furiously worked on a rewrite, pouring all of his anger and frustration into its revenge fantasy narrative, just to “stay sane.” Imagine what that script must look like, and how it must feel to read it. (Seriously, if anyone wants to slip us a copy…)

In interviews, del Toro subsequently explained that his vision was a steampunk Western in which the Count possesses a mechanical hand built specifically to draw his gun faster than anyone else. He also stated that Legendary came real close to financing the film, but opted to go with Crimson Peak instead. With that in mind, we think this is another del Toro passion project that could benefit from the Fox Searchlight deal, and we’re pretty sure it would turn out a whole hell of a lot better than Wild Wild West.


5. At the Mountains of Madness

(Photo by IFC Midnight)

You knew this was coming. This adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft novella has been in the works for decades, and around the same time that del Toro was first attached to The Haunted Mansion in 2010, At the Mountains of Madness almost — almost — got made. Del Toro had gone to great pains to secure the rights to the book and did a decade and a half’s work of his own in preparation, even before he went into preproduction with it for Universal. Monster designs and storyboards were created, and Tom Cruise had been attached to star with James Cameron on board as producer. Del Toro actually learned the studio had pulled the plug on it while he was on a location scouting trip, for crying out loud.

But the big reason Universal closed down the production, reportedly, was del Toro’s insistence that the film be rated R, and that kind of logic went the way of the red balloon after the success of last year’s It, a smash with audiences and critics alike (85% on the Tomatometer). Some changes and updates would obviously need to be made to all the prep work del Toro did over the years, but with so much of it at the ready, and a production company at his back, would it really be so difficult to fire up the movie-making machine and crank this out? OK, yes, we realize it wouldn’t be quite that simple, but he’s compared losing this film to having a miscarriage, in rather graphic fashion. Just let the man make his damn movie already.

Tag Cloud

Year in Review San Diego Comic-Con festival Tumblr facebook Mudbound fast and furious supernatural Ellie Kemper book chucky sitcom Tokyo Olympics twilight king kong Hear Us Out HBO nature AMC Plus jurassic park high school The Purge TCA Winter 2020 Vudu Red Carpet psycho video spain Peacock Comics on TV japanese parents Hulu Apple TV Plus Sneak Peek franchise marvel cinematic universe cancelled TV shows cancelled art house Premiere Dates cars Winners Paramount Network 71st Emmy Awards Spring TV blockbusters thriller serial killer 2021 unscripted Marathons venice gangster Brie Larson Columbia Pictures 93rd Oscars screenings Lionsgate Television Critics Association period drama know your critic Adult Swim spider-man Disney+ Disney Plus ESPN WarnerMedia green book Freeform asian-american superhero target canceled Musical Sci-Fi TCA Awards scary travel hispanic new york werewolf Grammys award winner VOD doctor who Amazon Studios tv talk transformers TV renewals mob critic resources Sundance TV television independent Fox Searchlight Sundance boxoffice Quiz boxing Mystery CW Seed Christmas Universal Pictures child's play 90s japan Set visit live event comic book movies popular Apple TV+ Trophy Talk Holidays political drama DirecTV 2018 ABC Family Election adaptation TV Land sequels pirates of the caribbean Alien Syfy Pixar RT History Western aapi Valentine's Day Marvel Family 2019 Binge Guide CNN Schedule zombies latino FX on Hulu sequel romance FX heist movie razzies saw elevated horror halloween Netflix crime Musicals Country harry potter Starz halloween tv joker Disney streaming service Sony Pictures Food Network Biopics National Geographic renewed TV shows spinoff nfl hollywood ghosts Women's History Month 72 Emmy Awards Esquire biography A&E PaleyFest zombie HBO Go italian new zealand rom-coms Mindy Kaling Legendary IFC Trivia President Wes Anderson The Witch marvel comics Ghostbusters mcc Thanksgiving screen actors guild adenture fresh binge AMC Turner Classic Movies dceu Turner Television Academy worst movies Cosplay The Arrangement science fiction TBS YouTube Tubi SXSW The Walt Disney Company cats Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt children's TV women dogs CBS All Access witnail 24 frames Instagram Live 4/20 telelvision archives king arthur Fox News TNT revenge Comic Book Horror police drama MTV ITV stoner BBC One Reality Competition Shudder Arrowverse anime Captain marvel Nickelodeon politics kids comic Song of Ice and Fire Martial Arts video on demand Apple Hallmark Christmas movies Endgame james bond cooking singing competition Britbox trailers ratings MSNBC Walt Disney Pictures hidden camera Crackle CBS TCA TruTV 2020 hist NYCC feel good space crossover MCU social media Rom-Com Discovery Channel USA Awards Summer Cartoon Network golden globe awards CMT Universal stand-up comedy spanish New York Comic Con zero dark thirty FOX The CW kaiju Stephen King game of thrones GoT Marvel Television IFC Films quibi sopranos foreign composers Box Office Winter TV Polls and Games PlayStation X-Men Netflix Christmas movies TIFF concert First Look aliens all-time emmy awards posters Animation 2015 psychological thriller Extras movies royal family basketball worst DC streaming service Writers Guild of America finale Mary Tyler Moore Countdown lord of the rings SDCC news wonder woman Toys mockumentary APB YA animated cancelled television game show prank Bravo debate Image Comics E3 toy story Reality versus young adult Film Festival Fall TV movie natural history remakes critics universal monsters batman BBC America Mary poppins Academy Awards monster movies Certified Fresh Holiday deadpool Podcast die hard Super Bowl football a nightmare on elm street golden globes Drama Trailer comics crime drama A24 Lifetime Christmas movies Music mutant casting rotten movies we love genre disaster based on movie black international documentary godzilla Marvel Studios vampires NBA canceled TV shows 45 olympics rotten cartoon Pride Month Elton John Disney Channel FXX Pacific Islander black comedy See It Skip It Star Trek Classic Film 1990s Lucasfilm jamie lee curtis dark dc rt labs critics edition Star Wars ABC dragons book adaptation DGA richard e. Grant reboot Masterpiece The Walking Dead spy thriller OneApp blockbuster GIFs Broadway Film Epix TCM streaming directors El Rey 99% Pet Sematary hispanic heritage month docudrama docuseries Video Games documentaries Creative Arts Emmys miniseries HBO Max YouTube Red Disney Plus cults WGN stop motion GLAAD 2016 Cannes Comedy Central biopic films First Reviews indie Interview Best and Worst Heroines The Academy slashers teaser DC Comics Calendar superman 73rd Emmy Awards dramedy Superheroes comiccon criterion dexter TV Chilling Adventures of Sabrina History discovery Chernobyl french Awards Tour kong VH1 Rock true crime obituary cinemax Comic-Con@Home 2021 what to watch Exclusive Video Paramount TCA 2017 slasher BET Awards new star wars movies Neflix robots ID Photos Warner Bros. Amazon Prime Video rt labs LGBTQ DC Universe Teen Shondaland spanish language Acorn TV suspense Emmy Nominations Emmys war Oscars classics Superheroe TLC BBC free movies YouTube Premium diversity toronto American Society of Cinematographers anthology TV One Watching Series E! streaming movies Spectrum Originals medical drama scary movies NBC technology 2017 talk show legend comic book movie Kids & Family PBS 20th Century Fox indiana jones series Character Guide ViacomCBS Tarantino 007 nbcuniversal comic books cops adventure comedies TV movies cancelled TV series Travel Channel dreamworks crime thriller Amazon Prime Crunchyroll Pop TV Amazon action-comedy festivals scene in color sag awards australia OWN 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Showtime satire Tomatazos Baby Yoda blaxploitation justice league best reviews SundanceTV Black History Month Pirates Mary Poppins Returns Logo laika name the review Hallmark BET Dark Horse Comics ABC Signature Comedy Fantasy Disney Nominations breaking bad USA Network live action Pop mission: impossible Avengers Rocketman theme song Action Anna Paquin BAFTA Infographic Sundance Now spider-verse IMDb TV vs. 21st Century Fox Rocky Black Mirror Lifetime sports south america Ovation RT21 Paramount Plus Spike VICE strong female leads Opinion Funimation christmas movies rt archives romantic comedy LGBT scorecard historical drama Nat Geo