Of the many planned but unmade films Guillermo Del Toro has, the one that must hurt the most, not only for him but for his fans, is At the Mountains of Madness. This was a passion project of Del Toro's, who has long loved the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and he fought with Universal to make it a reality. He had the star, Tom Cruise, and even James Cameron as a producer, but the studio balked. One reason was the budget, estimated at $150M+, which wouldn't have been so bad if Del Toro didn't insist on it being R-rated. Well, he did, and the movie never happened.
In a chat with Collider, Del Toro has reflected on At the Mountains of Madness, what killed it, and what he has learned about that entire experience...
“A lot of people think of directors like Caesar sitting on a chaise lounge like somebody feeding them grapes, and you say, ‘I would like to do Mountains of Madness now.’ And it’s not. You’re a blue collar guy working your way, putting numbers in front of studios, putting [together] stars, packages, whatever, and you have your stuff to move. That’s why I tried to do a small movie and a big movie, because the small movies, you suffer with the budget, but you have complete freedom; you can do whatever you want. That gives you a line."
“We thought we had a very good, safe package. 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,” del Toro added. “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.”
You have to think that one day Del Toro will circle back to this, and perhaps make the necessary adjustments that will get it done. Or perhaps not. He's earned the freedom to make any movie how he wants, and may never want to give that up.