With Guillermo del Toro's The Strain debuting Sunday, July 13 on FX, the filmmaker has been making the press rounds in support of the show, where he has also been giving new tidbits about a number of his film projects in the works. The beloved director shed some new light on Pacific Rim 2 and the recently announced animated TV series, his haunted house thriller Crimson Peak and the H.P. Lovecraft adaptation At the Mountains of Madness.
Last week, the filmmaker took time out of his post-production schedule on Crimson Peak to announce that Pacific Rim 2 will hit theaters on April 4, 2017, and that he is developing an animated TV series. While he wouldn't spoil any story details for Pacific Rim 2, since he is still working on the script with co-writer Zak Penn, he did tease that the "tenor" of the sequel will be much different than the first.
"We are three years away, so to spoil anything would be fantastically silly of me. What I can tell you: [screenwriter Zak Penn] and I really went in, we started with [screenwriter Travis Beacham] about a year and a half ago, kicking ideas back and forth. And, admittedly, I said to Zak, let's keep kicking ideas till we find one that really, really turns the first movie on its ear, so to speak. It was hard to create a world that did not come from a comic book, that had its own mythology, so we had to sacrifice many aspects to be able to cram everything in the first movie. Namely, for example "the Drift" (editor's note: the neural link between pilots of the giant robots, or jaegers), which was an interesting concept. [Then there was] this portal that ripped a hole into the fabric of our universe, what were the tools they were using? And we came up with a really, really interesting idea. I don't want to spoil it, but I think at the end of the second movie, people will find out that the two movies stand on their own. They're very different from each other, although hopefully bringing the same joyful giant spectacle. But the tenor of the two movies will be quite different."
The director said last week that he wants to bring back Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam), Mako (Rinko Kikuchi), Newt (Charlie Day), Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman). When asked what new characters he wants to add, Guillermo del Toro wouldn't go into specifics, but did tease that they would be "managing" those who survived Pacific Rim.
"I'm hoping to bring the same idea I had in the first movie, that was to make it multicultural and humanistic as much as possible, to make characters from many nationalities or gender, to make them equal in the scope of the adventure, in the day-to-day of the adventure. So, we're bringing a few characters that are new and hopefully doing good work managing those that survived the first movie. (laughs)"
With a release date now in place, the filmmaker added that he will start designing Pacific Rim 2 in six weeks, which will take him nine months to complete.
"I start designing in six weeks. It takes me nine months to design a movie like that. People see the movie, and they have to see that we designed everything in the movie, from ID cards or patches, pamphlets, posters, signs, sets. I start with a core team for about six months designing the jaegers and the kaiju, you know, so we know how many kaiju, how many jaegers. We are creating some new jaegers and a lot of new kaiju. We start [designing the production] in August."
The filmmaker's video last week was the first we heard about an animated series set in the Pacific Rim universe. While the project doesn't have a network home yet, he did tease where the story may be headed.
"We are talking about all the possibilities in terms of networks. We're formulating ideas that are, again, interesting and not the usual route, but the series tackles the stories that happened to pilots working in the Shatterdome (editor's note: a building where jaegers are built and maintained and pilots train), but also cadets learning how to become pilots. All of this happens prior to the first movie, and it gives you a little more depth into the background of certain characters that will appear in the second movie. So it's really expanding the material. I was incredibly happy with the comic book series that came about from a graphic novel called "Tales From Year Zero," and we are continuing the tales for the next three years. So by the time the second movie comes out, you will have probably one year of the animation airing, and you will have three years of the comic book series ongoing, so we are trying for all these things to be canon, to be in the same universe, to not wing anything, so that if anyone ... a lot of kids, for example, have discovered "Pacific Rim" through the toys. They come in through the toys, and then they watch the movie, and then they learn this, they learn that through the movie or the comic book series, so we're trying to make it canon so we can expand the universe. And by the time we come into the second movie, you have a good feel for the world, and we can dedicate ourselves to character and ideas and spectacle."
Next up for Guillermo del Toro is his haunted house thriller Crimson Peak, which is currently in post-production. The director revealed that this is the first time he has tackled "an adult story in English," as opposed to his smaller stories that are normally crafted in the Spanish language.
"It's the first time I've tackled an adult story in English. When I had that terrible experience with Mimic in 1997, I decided to go for more action-oriented, comic book-oriented things to be done in English, and to do my more personal, my more adult-themed things in Spanish. Up until Crimson Peak, it's been that way. With Crimson Peak, it's the first time I'm able to articulate some adult concerns with a very elegant and sedate and visually rich world because I found great support with Legendary Pictures. Legendary basically has become a home for me, and I made it abundantly clear that Crimson Peak wouldn't be something with cats jumping out at you. It was creepy, and it was eerie, but it was going to play by more idiosyncratic rules than the normal horror movie. And they were completely supportive of it."
"That's exactly what I discussed with them. I said to them, that's the movie that I would really love to do one day, and it's still expensive, it's still ... I think that now, with the way I've seen PG-13 become more and more flexible, I think I could do it PG-13 now, so I'm going to explore it with [Legendary], to be as horrifying as I can, but to not be quite as graphic. There's basically one or two scenes in the book that people don't remember that are pretty graphic. Namely, for example, the human autopsy that the aliens do, which is a very shocking moment. But I think I can find ways of doing it. We'll see. It's certainly a possibility in the future. Legendary was very close to doing it at one point, so I know they love the screenplay. So, we'll see. Hopefully it'll happen. It's certainly one of the movies I would love to do."
Of course, At the Mountains of Madness would still be many years away even if Legendary gives the filmmaker the green light. The director was also asked if it was possible that, given At the Mountains of Madness doesn't work out, if fans may see H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu in Pacific Rim 2.
"Not really. I think there's a really strong possibility we can do it (At the Mountains of Madness) at Legendary because now they are at Universal, and Universal, you may remember, almost greenlit the movie. The fact that we now have two studios together that love the material, and if they support each other, they are risking a lot less. It would be great to do it, but I've understood that you don't plan your career, it just happens."