You can’t say Guillermo del Toro doesn’t know how to keep himself busy. The Oscar-winning director recently shared a list of screenplay projects he’s worked on over the past decade that are still waiting to be produced, including a previously unknown project and another that’s still top-secret. The list is massive, with at least a decade’s worth of stories, reminding us that there is a treasure trove of amazing del Toro content just begging to be taken on. So what’s the delay?
On Twitter, del Toro shared a list of screenplays he’s developed, written, or co-written over the years that haven’t been picked up for production. It (mostly) doesn’t include ones that have since gone on without him, like his planned Doctor Strange or Hobbit films. Many of the projects are over a decade old now, though others look to be newer (like The Buried Giant). The list also confirms that del Toro has indeed been planning a remake of The Witches, something that was rumoured earlier this year...but has been reportedly in the works since 2008.
Coming on the heels of the Oscar win and Netflix picking up the creator’s long-awaited Pinocchio adaptation, it feels like we’re on the cusp of getting more of del Toro’s pet projects. At least, that’s what we hope. Here are all the projects del Toro listed on Twitter and where they currently stand (and there are plenty more to be found here):
Back in June, Variety reported that Robert Zemeckis was teaming up with del Toro to produce an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. The last we heard, del Toro and Zemeckis were in final negotiations with Warner Bros. Given how the movie is on this list, it’s hard to say where it’s at in development because there’s been no news on this front recently. Del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón have been working on this adaptation since at least 2008, and the plan was to have it be a stop-motion animated film so it wouldn’t compete with the iconic adaptation starring Anjelica Huston directed by Nicolas Roeg (who sadly just passed away at the age of 90).
Justice League Dark
Rumours about del Toro’s involvement in Justice League Dark started back in 2012, when the DC extended universe was just getting started. Del Toro drafted a script for the film, which would’ve starred Swamp Thing, the Demon, Constantine, and other iconic characters in a story exploring the supernatural side of the DC universe. Doug Liman was attached to direct in 2016, but left one year later.
There’s no confirmed production schedule for this film, but at 2017's San Diego Comic-Con the title was confirmed as Justice League Dark. Warner Bros. has a lot of potential films in the works, we can only hope it’d be smart enough to go back to del Toro’s version.
Beauty and the Beast
Before Emma Watson was cast to play Belle in Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, she was set to star in a Warner Bros. adaptation called Beauty. Del Toro wrote the script and was also set to direct and produce, but stepped out of the director’s chair abruptly in 2014, citing scheduling conflicts. Watson was recruited to Disney’s version instead — and last we heard in 2014, Warner Bros. was shopping for a new director.
At the Mountains of Madness
The director announced back in 2008 that he was working on an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s story At The Mountains of Madness, describing it as “a National Geographic special on a crew that disappeared in an exploration mission.” James Cameron was stoked about the project, coming on to produce the film — but it was going to be hard for del Toro, as he was set to work on both this and two Hobbit films simultaneously. Sadly, the whole Hobbit situation went kaput...as did Mountains of Madness, ultimately. Del Toro announced the death of Mountains of Madness on his blog in 2012. He said it was partially because Prometheus was already in development — and since Alien was heavily influenced by Lovecraftian mythos, the folks behind it were afraid of overlap.
This was another potential collaboration with James Cameron that hasn’t come to fruition. It was announced in 2016 that del Toro was in talks to direct Cameron’s Fantastic Voyage film, which he’d been pushing for since 2010, with a script by David Goyer (The Dark Knight). It sounds like this one may still be chugging along, though not very well. In January 2018, del Toro had reportedly added a production designer from The Shape of Water to the crew.
Add this one to the Cameron/del Toro pile. Back in 2001, Cameron reportedly bought the rights to the comic book miniseries The Coffin, a modern adaptation of the Frankenstein story. It was rumoured in 2004 that del Toro was working on a script treatment of the comic book, and reports of the movie’s development mostly stopped after 2011.
The Count of Monte Cristo
Pinocchio might be one of del Toro’s most-famous pet projects, but The Count of Monte Cristo may be the oldest and dearest to his heart. Del Toro has been working on an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo for decades. First rumoured back in 2002 under the name The Left Hand of Darkness (no relation to Ursula K. Le Guin’s story) — but in the works for at least a decade prior to that — it was set to be a gothic steampunk version of the classic set in the Wild West.
Legendary came close to financing it, but later backed out, leaving the project with an uncertain future. But that hasn’t stopped del Toro from dreaming about one day seeing it happen, even suggesting he could pick it up after finishing Crimson Peak, which came out in 2015.
According to novelist Christopher Fowler, del Toro had previously adapted his novel Spanky into a movie called Mephisto’s Bridge, about a Faustian bargain between a 1980s yuppie and a demon who wants his body. However, del Toro was offered a chance to direct Hellboy II and left the project. Fowler indicated that he doesn’t see the movie happening now, but elements of it were incorporated into other works—most notable the Angel of Death from Hellboy II, which came from a concept design del Toro had made for Mephisto’s Bridge.
Pacific Rim 2
This one was interesting, as this movie actually exists. On his Twitter post, del Toro suggested that he had a version of Pacific Rim 2 that was “very different” from Uprising, a movie that was largely panned by fans of the original film. Pacific Rim 2 was in development for years, with del Toro eagerly pushing for it to finally get made—largely because of audience demand.
However, by the time things were moving forward, Legendary was being sold and del Toro was told he’d have to wait at least nine months to start production. Instead, he stepped out of the director’s chair and went on to make The Shape of Water. Pacific Rim 2 went on to get made anyway, just not in the way del Toro intended.
It’s hard to find any information on this project or what it’s based on, if anything, as most searches simply turn up del Toro’s personal superstitions. We’ll keep an eye out.
Nightmare Alley is one of the more recently announced projects that seems to have fallen to the wayside. It was revealed in December 2017 that del Toro would be co-writing and directing a remake of the 1947 film Nightmare Alley, described as a film noir that takes place at a carnival. That’s the first and last we’ve heard of this project so far.
After del Toro saw 2003's Haunted Mansion movie starring Eddie Murphy, he said the first thing he wanted to do was remake it into something darker, scarier, and (let’s be honest) better. That movie was teased at 2010's San Diego Comic-Con, and slowly moved forward over the years — with a draft script reaching Disney’s desk in 2012. Del Toro was originally on board to direct, but then changed to co-writer and producer. At one point, Ryan Gosling was in talks to star. Updates have slowed down after 2016, when del Toro said he was still working on script drafts.
The Hulk Pilot
It’s not uncommon for prospective TV shows to film pilots that don’t end up getting picked up. That looks to be the case with del Toro’s The Incredible Hulk, which was in the works at ABC starting in 2010. There were reports that it was still moving forward in 2012, but nothing’s come of it since. And given how tightly Disney is controlling the Marvel properties, especially on television, it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll get this show in the future.
The Buried Giant
This looks to be the first we’re learning that del Toro was working on a scripted adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2015 novel, The Buried Giant. The story takes place after the death of King Arthur, where a mysterious mist robs people of their memories, leading one family to go in search of a son they barely remember. Given how Ishiguro once compared his novel to Pan’s Labyrinth, seems fitting that he’d want del Toro to adapt his own work.
Universal optioned del Toro for several projects back in 2008. These included remakes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Frankenstein (which could be tied to The Coffin, although that project was owned by Lightstorm). There was also a planned adaptation of Dan Simmons’ novel Drood, based on the life of Charles Dickens. The film is still listed as being in development on IMDB.
The List of Seven
Not a lot of information is available about this adaptation of Mark Frost’s 1993 occult murder mystery novel The List of Seven—only that del Toro was developing it as a film and drew up some sketches.
The Wind in the Willows
In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, del Toro shared that he’d spent some time around 2003 working on an adaptation of Disney’s The Wind in the Willows. It was designed to be a live-action and computer animated hybrid—predating the modern live-action remake trend by over a decade. But according to del Toro, Disney wasn’t content with simply telling a beloved classic children’s story. It wanted to be hip and edgy, going so far as to suggest that Toad do sweet tricks on a skateboard. That’s when del Toro backed out, and nothing’s happened with that movie since.
Untitled Secret Project
I mean, this could be anything. Let’s use our imaginations and figure out what this one is. I’m guessing...The Little Mermaid. Like a super dark and creepy Little Mermaid where her tongue gets ripped out. Because I’m twisted like that.
It should be noted, it looks like del Toro is hoping to get some traction on one or all of these if his series of tweets is to be believed:
The thing is- each script takes about a year, so- more than a decade of work lost (in the case of mountains, much more, since we scoiuted [sic] and designed etc)...To be clear these screenplays are WRITTEN, done. Each of them took months or years of my life. Meetings, synopsis, beat sheets and were all written, features- 90-130 pages each. These are not “maybes” or “wish list” items. They are done.
So, who’s ready to make them?