unmade guillermo del toro movies

Guillermo del Toro has considerable clout in Hollywood now after winning Best Director and Best Picture for The Shape of Water. That kind of success usually gives filmmakers free rein to get any project they dream of off the ground. But there was a time, not too long ago, where del Toro had trouble mounting a slew of films. The filmmaker recently took to twitter to offer a long list of his fabled unmade films, making many of us wonder: will these ever see the light of day?

Without further adieu, here’s the man himself.

If you’re a del Toro fan, and have been following his career, you likely are familiar with at least some of these. But let’s break ’em down for old time’s sake.

the witches remake

The Witches

Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis is in talks to direct this remake of Nicolas Roeg’s terrifying The Witches. But at one point, Guillermo del Toro was in talks to direct, as was del Toro’s pal Alfonso Cuaron. Del Toro confirms that he wrote the script for the film, but it’s unlikely this script will be used. When the Zemeckis news broke, word came that the Cast Away filmmaker was re-writing the script as well. This would’ve been a great project for del Toro, but alas, it’s not to be – he will still be listed as a producer, though.

Justice League Dark

Justice League Dark

Long before we got whatever the hell the Justice League movie was, del Toro was developing Justice League Dark, which would feature darker characters like  John Constantine and Swamp Thing. del Toro worked on the prospective film for a period of time, but by 2015, he was no longer attached. At this point, it’s unlikely we’ll see any sort of Justice League Dark movie, but I would love to get my hands on del Toro’s script.

Beauty and the Beast Home Video

Beauty and the Beast

Before Emma Watson ended up appearing in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake, she was going to star in a different take on the material from Guillermo del Toro. del Toro’s version was in development at Warner Bros., but it never got off the ground. Watson eventually jumped ship to Disney, and del Toro got to make his own Beauty and the Beast-like story with The Shape of Water.

Mission Impossible Fallout Stunt Video

At the Mountains of Madness

This is one of the most famous of del Toro’s unmade projects. The filmmaker tried for years to launch a big budget, R-rated adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s tale of terror. Tom Cruise was attached to star, and James Cameron was going to produce. The movie came very, very close to happening. And then…nothing. According to del Toro, the studio – Warner Bros. – got cold feet. They were afraid of a big budget R-rated horror movie, and the increasing budget. “The studio is very nervous about the cost and it not having a love story or a happy ending, but it’s impossible to do either in the Lovecraft universe,” del Toro said.

Fantastic Voyage

Fantastic Voyage was to be del Toro’s project following The Shape of Water. The film was going to be a remake of 1966 sci-fi flick about a team shrunk down in a submarine to enter a man’s bloodstream. All was on track until 2017, when it was announced Fantastic Voyage was being put on hold so del Toro could concentrate on awards season. There’s still a chance this might happen, but del Toro is currently taking time off from directing. Perhaps he’ll return to this next year. Or pass it on to someone else.

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

At one point, del Toro was planning a “gothic Western” adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ famous adventure novel. del Toro didn’t exactly elaborate on just what that means, but it sounds amazing. This is one of del Toro’s older unmade projects – he wrote the script between 1993 and 1998.

guillermo del toro favorite superhero movies

Mephisto’s Bridge

Mephisto’s Bridge was to be del Toro’s adaptation of Christopher Fowler’s novel Spanky. Here’s the synopsis:

With a dead-end job, a miserable family, and no romantic prospects, twenty-three-year-old Martyn Ross has a rotten life—until he meets his own personal demon. A Spancialosaphus Lacrimosae, or “Spanky” for short, he’s Martyn’s diabolically handsome alter ego, a tuxedoed charmer who’s willing to share his wild world of wine, women, and wealth . . . for a price.

“The film version was to be set in Pittsburg, the first half in winter, the second half in summer – Heaven (snow) and Hell (furnace heat) would balance the story. It was a wonderful idea, and would have worked beautifully,” Fowler said. Before del Toro could make it, though, he got the greenlight on Hellboy II, and moved on to that.

Pacific Rim 2

Del Toro was not involved with Pacific Rim Uprising, and it shows. In his tweet thread, he says his script for the sequel was “very different.” We can only assume that means it was actually good.

Superstitious

In researching this piece, I didn’t find a single thing about this project, anywhere. del Toro has been holding out on us.

nightmare alley

Nightmare Alley

Nightmare Alley would be a remake of 1947 film noir of the same name. Per Variety, “the original movie starred Tyrone Power as an ambitious young con-man who hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more corrupt than he is. At first, they enjoy success fleecing people with their mentalist act, but then she turns the table on him, out-manipulating the manipulator.” The project was announced in 2017, so there’s a chance it might still hapen.

Haunted Mansion

del Toro really wants to make a film based on Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride. Disney, for whatever reason, has botched this. They made a forgettable film adaptation starring Eddie Murphy in 2003, and since then, del Toro has been teasing his potential version. However, it looks like the director grew tired of waiting and went off and made his own version of a Haunted Mansion movie: Crimson Peak. 

avengers infinity war hulk deleted

The Hulk Pilot

Del Toro was working on a new Hulk TV show before the character got his due in the Avengers films. Now, it seems very, very unlikely it will ever happen. “I met with Jeph Loeb after Avengers, but after that meeting, there’s been complete radio silence on the show,” del Toro said in 2013. “It’s very frustrating for me and for the fans that we don’t know. I haven’t heard anything in months about the show, but obviously Avengers is a game-changer for Marvel. It’s their property, and if I don’t make it, at least I’ll watch it.” Any potential Hulk TV show would likely now be part of Disney’s streaming service. Maybe someone can convince Disney to give del Toro’s script another glance.

Fantastic Voyage remake

The Buried Giant

The Buried Giant is an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name. Here’s the book’s synopsis:

In post-Arthurian Britain, the wars that once raged between the Saxons and the Britons have finally ceased. Axl and Beatrice, an elderly British couple, set off to visit their son, whom they haven’t seen in years. And, because a strange mist has caused mass amnesia throughout the land, they can scarcely remember anything about him. As they are joined on their journey by a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and an illustrious knight, Axl and Beatrice slowly begin to remember the dark and troubled past they all share. By turns savage, suspenseful, and intensely moving, The Buried Giant is a luminous meditation on the act of forgetting and the power of memory.

Hey…that sounds incredible. Please, someone make this.

The Coffin

Before they almost teamed on At the Mountains of Madness, the del Toro and James Cameron were going to work together on an adaptation of  Phil Hester and Mike Huddleston’s comic miniseries The Coffin. The story was a kind of Frankenstein-like tale of science clashing with death. Here’s the comic synopsis:

Dr. Ashar Ahmad is a brilliant but heartless scientist intent on proving the physical existence of the soul, going as far as to create an impenetrable cybernetic skin that will trap the human soul after the body within has died — a walking coffin. Only when a dying Ahmad is encased in one of his prototypes does he realize the value if the life he has wasted. A desperate race to reclaim his technology from an evil corporate overlord and save the life of the daughter he once disavowed force him to become the man he never was in life.

drood

Drood

Back in 2008, word broke that del Toro would be adapting Dan Simmons’ novel Drood. The project is still listed as “in development”, but it seems like the Drood ship has sailed. Drood is a historical thriller that features Charles Dickens as a character. Here’s the synopsis:

On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens – at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world– hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?

guillermo del toro presents 10 after midnight

List of 7

List of 7 was to be an adaptation of the 1993 novel by Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost. Like Drood, it’s a tale of historical fiction. Here’s the synopsis:

As the city of London slumbers, there are those in its midst who conspire to rule the world through the darkest and most nefarious means. These seven, seated in positions of extraordinary power and influence, marshal forces from the far side to aid them in their fiendish endeavor.

Guillermo del Toro taking year off

Wind in the Willows

In 2003, del Toro worked with Disney on a new adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s children’s book The Wind in the Willows. According to the filmmaker, he parted ways with the House of Mouse after an executive wanted him to make the characters more cool: “It was a beautiful book, and then I went to meet with the executives and they said, ‘Could you give Toad a skateboard and make him say, ‘radical dude’ things,’ and that’s when I said, ‘It’s been a pleasure…,'” del Toro relayed in 2008.

The big takeaway here: all of these potential projects sound very cool, and would’ve been perfect for del Toro. Can we assume they’re all dead? No – there’s always hope. For years, del Toro was trying to mount a new adaptation of Pinocchio . And even though all seemed lost, Netflix came in and saved the film. Perhaps a similar fate awaits the films listed above.

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