Is This Our First Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Hatbox Ghost From 'Haunted Mansion'?

Update: Disney blogger InsideTheMagic informs us that: "That sculpt has been around for years. It has nothing to do with the film. It was inspired by HBG but isn't related to del Toro. Here's a commercially-available version of that sculpt. Nothing new. (Still cool though...)" Original post follows.

At Comic Con 2010, Guillermo del Toro surprised the crowd at the Disney panel in Hall H by announcing that he would be producing (and probably directing) a new big screen adaptation of the classic Disneyland attraction The Haunted Mansion.  The center of his plan is the reintroduction of the Hatbox Ghost, a character that appeared originally in The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland but was removed shortly after the attraction's debut.

Illusion Industries has been creating concept designs for del Toro's Haunted Mansion, and AICN found an image on their website which looks very much like a reimagining of the Hatbox Ghost. Hit the jump to check it out.

As Harry notes, this could be one of several things:

A sculptor at Illusion Industries could have just been a fan of Disneyland's HAUNTED MANSION and of Bernie Wrightson and just did this because he knew that it must be sculpted by him because the world would destroy itself if it didn't happen.   It could be that Guillermo has asked a selection of companies to bid via creating a HATBOX GHOST and he'll decide which companies work on it based upon their interpretation.

It sure looks creepy — I really hope this project happens. Del Toro called the Hatbox Ghost "one of the scariest" images created for the ride, but a character which he also considers "incredibly whimsical."

"There's a legend that it was discarded on the first day of the ride's operation because it was too scary," said del Toro. "I like that legend, but the reality is that the imagineers could not make the illusion work, so they took it out."

Here is a bit of history on the character from wikipedia:

Because The Hatbox Ghost featured prominently in artwork and narration for popular Haunted Mansion record albums sold for many years at Disney parks, and because Disney continues to market the ghost's image, he has never been forgotten and has become somewhat of a legend, complete with cult following. Many fans of the ride wish to see him returned and have gone so far as to circulate petitions calling for the figure's restoration.

Last we heard, The Haunted Mansion was being written by del Toro and Mimic/Don't Be Afraid of the Dark remake scribe Matthew Robbins. Del toro said he wanted to make a scary movie in live-action 3D, set in "a heightened reality, which is super designed, incredibly innovative, narratively and visually." It would not be a comedy, and he would attempt to make "the Haunted Mansion the most haunted place on Earth" and "doing it by being true to the spirit and the art and the aesthetic of the original Imagineers that created the mansion."