Guillermo del Toro has revealed no less than 17 movie ideas which he developed into full-blown screenplays that were never produced into films. The Oscar-winning storyteller behind Pan's Labyrinth and The Shape of Water has delivered more than his fair share of beloved films over the years, along with a handful of hit TV series (ranging from Netflix's Trollhunters to FX's The Strain). At the same time, however, del Toro is somewhat infamous for working on far more projects that never see the light of day than movies that actually get produced and released.
To be fair, there have been certain occasions where del Toro has ultimately passed his script and pre-production work onto another director to carry a project across the finish line (as happened on The Hobbit movies) - and on even rarer occasions, his long-developing ventures have suddenly come roaring back to life after finally getting the funding they need (see: his stop-motion Pinocchio, which Netflix is now backing). Nevertheless, the filmmaker himself posted about no less than 17 of his canceled movie ideas to his Twitter account this week; and we're going to rundown each and every one of them.
- This Page: The Witches, Justice League Dark & Beauty and the Beast
- Page 2: Fantastic Voyage, Mountains of Madness & Pacific Rim 2
- Page 3: The Hulk, Haunted Mansion & Wind in the Willows
A film adaptation of Roald Dahl's fantasy/horror novel for children (which was previously brought to the big screen by the late Nicolas Roeg in 1990), The Witches was developed as a stop-motion animated film by del Toro back in 2008. While del Toro originally wanted his good friend and fellow Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón to helm the project, he later lined up to direct the movie himself (with Cuarón producing). Sadly, the film simply never got picked up by a studio - though, Robert Zemeckis is currently working on a live-action adaptation of The Witches for Warner Bros. that del Toro and Cuarón are credited as executive producers on.
Justice League Dark
About four years after his sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army hit theaters in 2008, del Toro set to work on another supernatural horror-driven comic book movie in the form of Justice League Dark. The film was developed under the working title Dark Universe and would have featured characters like John Constantine, Swamp Thing, and Zatanna. However, due in no small part to the ever-changing trajectory of Warner Bros.' DC/Vertigo movie universe at the time (the more things change...), the project kept being pushed back until del Toro formally stepped away around mid-2015. Directors like Andy Muschietti (IT) and Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) have since circled the project, but the film has yet to come to fruition.
Beauty and the Beast
Nearly two years before Disney set to work on their live-action Beauty and the Beast retelling starring Emma Watson, del Toro was developing his own version of the "Tale as Old as Time" that Watson was attached to star in. The film had two reported working titles (Beauty and Beast) and was based on a script that del Toro cowrote with Mr Selfridge creator Andrew Davies. Unfortunately, with Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast picking up speed and his own retelling struggling to land a green-light, del Toro eventually stepped away from the project in mid-2014 - though, he also gave Watson his blessing to go ahead and star in the Disney version, instead.
At the Mountains of Madness
One of del Toro's more famous passion projects, At the Mountains of Madness was a film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's sci-fi horror novella that del Toro set to work writing with his frequent collaborator, Matthew Robbins, back in 2006. The movie came really close to entering production in 2011, after Tom Cruise became attached to star and James Cameron became involved as a producer (with del Toro set to direct, naturally). Unfortunately, the combination of a big-budget and del Toro's insistence that Mountains of Madness be rated R led Universal to shut the project down at the eleventh hour. While del Toro attempted to get the film made again a couple years later (even with a PG-13 rating), his efforts sadly didn't pan out.
A remake of the 1966 sci-fi adventure, Fantastic Voyage had been in development for years before del Toro entered talks to direct and cowrite the film (with his Blade II collaborator David S. Goyer), back in early 2016. For much of the past twelve months, Fantastic Voyage was expected to serve as del Toro's followup to his Best Picture Oscar-winner The Shape of Water and seemed to be on-course to start production by the end of 2018. For reasons that are not entirely clear right now (though budget may well be responsible), the film has been pushed to the back-burner and del Toro is moving forward with his stop-motion Pinocchio at Netflix in the meantime.
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo was a project that del Toro spoke about publicly back in early 2009, then later wrote about in his 2013 book Cabinet of Curiosities. An adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' classic adventure and revenge tale, del Toro has described his Count of Montre Cristo script (which he cowrote with Kit Carson and Matthew Robbins from 1993-1998) as “a kind of steampunk, gothic western” and revealed that he wrote a fair chunk of it while his father was kidnapped and held ransom for 72 days back in 1997, so "it's of a lot of rage". Interestingly, the project is titled The Left Hand of Darkness (no connection to Ursula K. Le Guin's novel of the same name) and, according to del Toro, came very close to being financed by Legendary before they joined forces with him on Crimson Peak instead, a few years back.
A big screen adaptation of Christopher Fowler's novel Spanky, Mephisto's Bridge is a Faustian tale about a yuppie who makes a deal with an ancient demon named Spanky that (spoiler?) doesn't work out the way he planned. The project entered development back in 1994 (the year that Fowler's book was originally published) and, according to Fowler, very nearly went into production with del Toro at the helm in the mid-2000s. The latter ultimately passed on the project to go make Hellboy II instead (after being offered a sizable payday for the sequel), but still got Fowler's blessing to use his character designs for the film on other movies. In fact, the design for The Angel of Death in Hellboy II was based on del Toro's concept art for Spanky (specifically, its many-eyed wings).
Pacific Rim 2 (del Toro's version)
Although a Pacific Rim sequel (Pacific Rim Uprising) was released in theaters earlier this year, it was directed by Steven S. DeKnight and based on a script draft that del Toro didn't actually have a hand in crafting. The original plan was for del Toro to both direct and write the film (having previously helmed the first Pacific Rim), but the sequel ended up being delayed longer than expected and del Toro officially passed the reins over to DeKnight in early 2016. Interestingly, Uprising ended up including at one least major plot element from del Toro's version of the project (namely, Charlie Day's Newt becoming something of a villain), despite being otherwise different from what the filmmaker was planning, by the look of it.
This is perhaps the most mysterious of del Toro's unmade movies, simply because... well, the filmmaker has seemingly never really spoken about it during an interview. It's possible the project in question is an adaptation of R.L. Stine's 1995 horror novel Superstitious, which tells the tale of a graduate student who marries a handsome professor... only to later suspect him of being a killer, when more and more people that he knows turn up mysteriously dead. There are shades of del Toro's story for Crimson Peak in the book's narrative and Miramax did buy the film rights before the novel was even published in the mid-'90s, but for now that's mostly speculation. Here's hoping del Toro talks about this one in greater detail in the future.
Guillermo del Toro's Nightmare Alley was only announced back in late 2017 and may yet come to fruition. The project is a remake of the 1947 noir film (itself, based on William Lindsay Gresham's novel) that chronicles the rise and fall of a young con artist, after he hooks up with an unscrupulous female mentalist who works for an equally disreputable carnival. Kim Morgan (The Forbidden Room) wrote the script with del Toro and the latter is still tentatively expected to direct the film in the future, perhaps sometime after he finishes production on Pinocchio. This certainly sounds like a project in del Toro's wheelhouse (from its themes about gender to its evocative setting), so here's to hoping he actually gets to make it.
Some five or so years after the Mouse House turned its popular Disney theme park attraction The Haunted Mansion into a family-friendly Eddie Murphy vehicle in 2003, the studio and del Toro joined forces to make another film adaptation that promised to deliver its fair share of spoopy (as in, spooky and fun) entertainment value. Ryan Gosling entered talks to headline the movie back in 2015, with del Toro's trusted collaborator Doug Jones already lined up to play the famous Hat Box ghost from the original ride. Unfortunately, Disney's shifting priorities when it comes to its live-action movies have seemingly left the project on indefinite hold... though, del Toro has since scratched his itch to make a set piece-centric haunted house movie with Crimson Peak, instead.
The Hulk (Pilot)
It's funny to think now that, at one point, Marvel TV and ABC had joined forces to make a live-action Incredible Hulk TV series for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with del Toro writing, directing, and producing the pilot. The TV show entered development shortly after Jeph Loeb was named the head of Marvel's television division, but stalled in 2012 and has since been (essentially) cancelled altogether. Odds are, the project was abandoned due to a combination of factors; including, concerns about its costs (it isn't cheap to bring the Hulk to convincing CGI life, after all) and Marvel Studios changing its plans for how best to use the Hulk and Bruce Banner characters in the MCU, after The Incredible Hulk movie was released in 2008.
The Buried Giant
A film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel (which was only published back in 2015), The Buried Giant takes place in the aftermath of King Arthur's death and reveals what happens when a mysterious mist spreads throughout his kingdom, causing its general population to suffer from mass amnesia. That's a fascinating premise on its own and one imagines that del Toro could make something special of Ishiguro's melancholic fantasy parable on the big screen, given the right budget. Unfortunately, between the relatively niche appeal of the story and recent Arthurian projects (like the origin movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) having bombed at the box office, it's probably not too difficult to guess why this one hasn't gotten a green-light from a studio (yet, anyway).
Add this one to the pile of films that Guillermo del Toro and James Cameron have nearly made together, along with At the Mountains of Madness and Fantastic Voyage (both of which Cameron also intended to produce). A movie based on the comic book miniseries by Phil Hester and Mike Huddleston, The Coffin tells the story of a scientist who invents a cybernetic skin meant to trap the human soul after death, only to become trapped in one of his own prototypes and forced to save his tech (and estranged daughter) from an evil corporate overlord. This sounds like the sort of unconventional sci-fi horror superhero adventure that del Toro would very much be interested in - but, for the time being, there's no indication that he's going to get a chance to direct it anytime soon.
This del Toro project is based on Dan Simmons' novel, a mix of historical fiction and thriller that reveals what happened in the last five years of Charles Dickens' life, from the perspective of his friend and fellow writer, Wilkie Collins. Universal attached del Toro to direct a film version of Drood back in 2008, but neither that nor any of the other three directorial projects that the studio and filmmaker had lined up back then (Frankenstein, Slaughterhouse-Five, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) have come to fruition since. Drood is arguably the most interesting of the lot simply because it's never been adapted for the big screen before; not to mention, it feels like a fascinating change of pace for del Toro, as a storyteller.
List of 7
List of 7 is a script based on The List of Seven, a novel that Mark Frost (the co-creator of Twin Peaks) wrote back in 1993. Like Drood, this one is a combination of historical fiction and thriller, and follows Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle on an adventure as he attends a Christmas Day seance where two people are (seemingly) murdered. The story is full of allusions to the Sherlock Holmes novels and includes other real-life figures (like Dracula author Bram Stoker), in addition to Doyle. Cabinet of Curiosities includes sketches that del Toro designed for the film and reveals that the director envisioned Jack Sparks (the model for Sherlock Holmes in Frost's book) as being a witty action hero in the vein of Robert Downey Jr.'s take on Mr. Holmes. Best to not hold your breath for this one, sadly.
The Wind in the Willows
The Wind in the Willows was a screenplay that del Toro worked on all the way back in 2003, at a time when he was collaborating with Disney on multiple projects (including, of course, Haunted Mansion). While del Toro intended to make a faithful live-action/CGI movie adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s beloved children's book, the filmmaker has revealed that the Mouse House's executives at the time wanted the movie to be more of a 'hip and cool' retelling (for example, they wanted Toad to have a skateboard and spout "radical dude" catchphrases). Suffice it to say, del Toro stepped away from the film after that - though, clearly, he remains passionate about the script that he wrote, even fifteen years later.