Guillermo del Toro’s love of HP Lovecraft is one of the best-known things about the passionate director and film lover. His new Netflix series – Cabinet of Curiosities – includes two films based on Lovecraft stories, and when del Toro first signed a multi-year deal with the streaming giant, he brought up another long-gestating Lovecraft project – At the Mountains of Madness.
In 2010, Guillermo del Toro was working on his passion project At the Mountains of Madness, and it looked as though it was going to happen – with Tom Cruise set to star and James Cameron to produce. It was set to be a 3D movie with a budget of $150 million. However, in 2011, Universal pulled the plug because del Toro insisted the movie be rated R, and it was considered too big of a risk.
Speaking to IndieWire in 2017, del Toro said “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,” he said. “The R [rating] was what made it. If Mountains had been PG-13, or if I had said it was PG-13 … I’m too much of a Boy Scout, I should have lied, but I didn’t.”
Speaking in 2021, del Toro said; “Take a wild guess which were the first projects I presented [to Netflix], 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 says that he would do a scaled-down version of the story now; “I can go to a far more esoteric, weirder, smaller version of it…I feel like going in a weirder direction. 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.”
And now, del Toro has shared a never-before-seen CGI test for ILM for At the Mountains of Madness, made a decade ago, on his Instagram. The footage features the horrifying Shoggoth – and it’s easy to see why it would have been given an R rating. Let’s hope that Netflix let del Toro finally make his passion project.
Guillermo del Toro also has another Netflix film coming out in December. Check out our London Film Festival review of Pinocchio.