“At the Mountains of Madness” has long been Guillermo del Toro’s unmade passion project, and it turns out it’s not dead just yet. During an interview on “The Kingcast” podcast, del Toro revealed that “Mountains” was one of the first projects he presented to Netflix after he signed a multi-year deal with the streamer in 2020. As the filmmaker said, “Take a wild guess which were the first projects I presented, you know? I went through the cupboard and found ‘Monte Cristo’ and ‘Mountains of Madness.’ Those were a couple of the ones I presented first.”
Del Toro has long wanted to adapt H.P. Lovecraft’s science fiction-horror novella “At the Mountains of Madness.” The project seemed a possibility after the Oscar-winning filmmaker left “The Hobbit” in 2010. At that point, Universal announced it would make “Mountains” with del Toro as a 3D movie starring Tom Cruise and produced by James Cameron. Come March 2011, the studio had pulled the plug on del Toro because financing a $150 million movie with an intended R-rating was too much of a risk.
“We thought we had a very good, safe package,” del Toro said in 2017 while reflecting on the failed movie. “It was $150 [million], Tom Cruise and James Cameron producing, ILM doing the effects, here’s the art, this is the concept, because I really think big-scale horror would be great … but there was a difference of opinion; the studio didn’t think so. The R [rating] was what made it. If ‘Mountains’ had been PG-13, or I had said PG-13 … I’m too much of a Boy Scout, I should have lied, but I didn’t.”
Speaking on “The Kingcast” podcast, del Toro said that he is still interested in helming “At the Mountains of Madness” as long as he can rewrite his original script.
“The screenplay I co-wrote 15 years ago is not the screenplay I would do now, so I need to do a rewrite,” del Toro said. “Not only to scale it down somehow, but because back then I was trying to bridge the scale of it with elements that made it somewhat able to go through the studio machinery. Blockbustery. And I think I don’t need to reconcile that anymore. I can go to a far more esoteric, weirder, smaller version of it where I can go back to some of the scenes that were left out.”
“Some of the big set pieces I designed, for example, I have no appetite for,” Del Toro continued. “I’ve already done this or that set piece, I feel like going in a weirder direction. I know a few things will stay. I know the ending we have is one of the most intriguing, weird, unsettling endings for me, so there’s about four horror set pieces that I love in the original script.”
Next up for del Toro is the release of his pandemic-delayed noir “Nightmare Alley,” which opens in theaters from Searchlight Pictures on December 17.