By all accounts, Guillermo del Toro is about to step up to the next level. It's easy to remember that while he's had critical Oscar-nominated films like "Pan's Labyrinth" and is an unimpeachable geek idol, he's never had a true smash hit. But next summer's megabudget "Pacific Rim" is looking poised to change that, if the ecstatic reaction from fans at Comic-Con is anything to go by. Now, del Toro has more than his share of projects on the go, most of them passion projects, and it's likely that if the film is as big as we're expecting it to be, the helmer will get carte blanche to make whatever he'd like. But could one of those prospective follow-ups be a return to his blockbuster franchise? And one that up until now he's seemed reluctant to pursue?
In a pre-Hall H interview with EW, del Toro, and his frequent collaborator Ron Perlman, who plays a scientist in "Pacific Rim," declared that they're hoping to return to "Hellboy," the comic-book-based franchise which they started in 2004, before sequelizing at a different studio with 2008's "Hellboy II: The Golden Army." Perlman recently and heart-warmingly donned the "Hellboy" make-up again to make the dreams of a little boy come true with the Make-A-Wish foundation, and del Toro says that it helped to inspire him to look at the series again: "I’ve encountered a lot of kids who are fans of the movies, but to hear the story of this kid who was watching the movies while going through treatment, it really just moved me a lot.”
As a result, the director says, "I can say publicly that now we are together in trying [to do 'Hellboy 3']." And Perlman added "The [first] two movies were really set up to have this unbelievable resolve. Everything that was done in both movies was leading up to this destiny, written in stone, of what Hellboy has been summoned to Earth to do. To not do it, particularly in light of the scope that Guillermo is thinking of for the resolve, would be in my mind a little bit of a shame.”
The second film, the best of the two, did indeed set up a promising direction for the series to go in, with Hellboy's pregnant (with twins!) girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) pleading to save his life with the Angel of Death, even though she knows that he's destined to bring about the apocalypse if he lives. But there may still be an uphill struggle to get a third film made; Sony declined to make a sequel to the first film after it took under $100 million worldwide, and while Universal picked up the reins, the follow-up still only made $160 million worldwide — not bad, considering a relatively modest $85 million budget, but still disappointing by summer tentpole standards.
Would a third studio, or even one of the previous homes, still be interested in a third film (del Toro admits he's not approached any companies, or even the character's creator Mike Mignola, with the project yet)? "Pacific Rim" being a monster hit would certainly help, but there may be a feeling out there that "Hellboy" already had its second chance, while del Toro has many, many other projects in the works, and may choose to use any new cachet to work on another passion project, like Lovecraft adaptation "At the Mountains of Madness" (of which del Toro tells Deadline, in an interesting interview, that he needs to see "Prometheus," which shares plot elements, before he decides if he'll return to down the line). That said, we live in a world where a third "Riddick" movie is being made, and you certainly can't count out del Toro when he puts his mind to something… We'll bring you more news on a prospective third "Hellboy" movie as it comes in, and you'll be able to see "Pacific Rim" in theaters on July 11th, 2013.