Posted on Monday, July 8th, 2013 by Russ Fischer
I’m tempted to say that this news tidbit about Charlie Kaufman scripting a new take on Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughterhouse Five for Guillermo del Toro is the most ideal pairing you’ll read about today. Guillermo del Toro has been kicking around ideas for a Slaughterhouse Five adaptation for Universal for some time, thanks to a multi-picture deal he signed a few years back. It’s not one we’ve heard much about; At the Mountains of Madness took precedence after he left The Hobbit, and then there was Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak, and that possible Frankenstein adaptation. (More on that last one in a minute.)
Now the director says he’s got a vision for adapting the book — which features WWII soldier Billy Pilgrim, who becomes “unstuck in time,” living through periods of his life in haphazard fashion.And Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Synecdoche, NY) could write it… when the money is there.
Charlie [Kaufman] and I talked for about an hour-and-a-half and came up with a perfect way of doing the book. I love the idea of the Trafalmadorians [the aliens of 'Slaughterhouse-Five'] — to be ‘unstuck in time,’ where everything is happening at the same time. And that’s what I want to do. It’s just a catch-22. The studio will make it when it”s my next movie, but how can I commit to it being my next movie until there’s a screenplay? Charlie Kaufman is a very expensive writer!
So it seems like Kaufman isn’t actively writing the script now, but that he and the director have an approach that could become a script, if Universal wants to pay for it. Thing is, a smart/weird take on a smart/weird book like this really isn’t where Universal is going right now. The studio has been turning around its financial fortunes in the past year, but with stuff like Ted, Les Misèrables, Mama, Identity Thief, Oblivion, and the Fast & Furious films. The only film in there that looks remotely like Slaughterhouse is Les Mis, but they’re totally different beasts.
Could these two have come up with a version of the story that could be made for as little money as it took to bankroll a film like Mama? Or, if Pacific Rim is successful and del Toro is willing to sign on to direct this after Crimson Peak, how could that change things?
Meanwhile, there’s Frankenstein. The director also said he’d love to get Benedict Cumberbatch to lead that project; we’ll see if that happens in the near future.