Crimson Peak is one of the many projects that del Toro has been developing for a number of years, and he initially sold it as a spec script to Universal. When he got wrapped up with Hellboy II and The Hobbit, del Toro moved back to a producer role on the project and set out to attach a director, but he never found someone that he thought was right. It appears that his chummy relationship with Legendary Pictures on Pacific Rim actually led to Crimson Peak getting the go-ahead:
“I went through the experience of Pacific Rim with Warner Bros and Legendary, and it was the best experience I have ever had making a a movie, period. I had a really good working relationship with [Legendary execs] Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, and they asked what I wanted to do next. I sent them At The Mountains of Madness, I sent them [The Count Of] Monte Cristo, another project I’ve tried to do for 20 years. I also sent Crimson Peak, but didn’t expect a reaction because it’s not a typical Legendary movie. Much to my surprise, Thomas Tull called 9:30 at night on the day I sent it and said, ‘I don’t know how it ends, but I am on page 45 and I love it.’ Next day, Jon Jashni called and said we think it’s the best project for us, just the right size.”
Del Toro describes Crimson Peak as a throwback to the haunted house films that he loved so much growing up:
“[Crimson Peak] is a very set-oriented, classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story. It will allow me to play with the conventions of the genre I know and love, and at the same time subvert the old rules.”
He added that people “are getting used to horror subjects done as found footage or B-value budgets,” and so he’s hoping to make a haunted house film in the grand tradition of Robert Wise’s The Haunting and Jack Clayton’s The Innocents.
Del Toro recently told Steve that once he finishes Pacific Rim next July, he plans to go straight into voice recording for his stop-motion animated Pinocchio movie and will then direct the FX pilot for The Strain. Del Toro will be working through a rewrite of Crimson Peak with Lucinda Coxon, and they plan to start production on the film in early 2014.
The prospect of del Toro tackling the haunted house genre is absolutely fantastic news, but included in the report concerning Crimson Peak is also a promising update on At the Mountains of Madness. As you may remember, del Toro was set to direct an adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft film with Tom Cruise starring and James Cameron producing before Universal abruptly pulled the plug over budget concerns. Del Toro says that he hopes to finally get the film made with Legendary:
“They love [At the Mountains of Madness], but we just finished Pacific Rim. They want to let that film happen [it opens July 12] and then my hope is, down the line we can do it.”