It was a thoroughly depressing development for both director Guillermo del Toro and his fans when his long-gestating film version of At the Mountains of Madness lost traction and slipped into development hell last year. For del Toro, the adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s creepy story was a life-long passion project, and for a while it seemed like the Universal production was finally on its way to the big screen, with Tom Cruise rumored to star. Then it all went bad, with the project declared dead the very next day after rumors of a greenlight spread across the net like wildfire. The silver lining is that Del Toro went on to make Pacific Rim, a giant-robots-punching-giant-monsters flick that built some huge buzz at Comic-Con last week. But still, we would have loved to see del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness. And believe it or not, we still might, but any Mountains resurrection is contingent on one thing: Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
Speaking to Empire Online, del Toro confessed that he’s still passionate about the project, but he’s afraid that similarities between At the Mountains of Madness and Prometheus could further hinder any resurrection for the Lovecraft adaptation. He wants to see Prometheus for himself before he decides…he just has to work up the courage first.
When I’m brave enough to go and see Prometheus, I’ll know. But for now, I don’t know … I go to the theatre, I buy my ticket for Prometheus and I go and see something else, because I’m afraid. I’m not a mental entity, I am also emotional, because the ideas are similar, from what I’ve heard and I’ll see it next week, I promise!
While I’m in the camp that found Prometheus to be an enjoyable but deeply flawed project, the very worst legacy I can imagine for it is to serve as a stumbling block to del Toro’s Mountains. I read a draft of the Lovecraft adaptation years ago, and sure, there are some similarities, but not enough that it should impede del Toro making his movie. This is Hollywood, for God’s sake, they’re constantly putting out suspiciously similar movies within a few months of each other. (Armageddon/Deep Impact, anyone?)
Still, it’s understandable that del Toro is weary of investing his energy and passion into projects that either fall apart or that he eventually has to move on from; the same thing happened with The Hobbit, which del Toro departed after numerous production delays. He told Empire how painful the Mountains shutdown was:
For me, the collapse of At the Mountains of Madness was a soul-shattering experience. It was very difficult for me that that movie didn’t happen. We designed the creatures, the sets, we were scouting the locations, and went through any number of drafts. Everything was going and then it collapsed and it was a big blow. It was a very debilitating moment.
Let’s hope that when del Toro finally sees Prometheus he’s reinvigorated, not discouraged. And if anybody happens to see the guy, it sounds like he could use a hug.
Pacific Rim is set to hit theaters on July 12, 2013.