24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Guillermo del Toro

Christoper Nolan pulls a Guillermo del Toro

June 14, 2012 | 12:08 pm

Christopher Nolan pairs up with Wally Pfister

Despite his extensive cachet in the fan community, Christopher Nolan hasn't loaned out his name and wisdom to lesser-known filmmakers in the manner of, say, Guillermo del Toro. He's producing/shepherding "Man of Steel" and a supernatural thriller from a filmmaker named Keith Gordon and, well, that's about it.

But Nolan will make a rare attempt at the godfather routine on a new movie from Wally Pfister, the Oscar-winning cinematographer who has worked with Nolan on everything from "Memento" to "The Dark Knight Rises." Principals announced Wednesday that Nolan and wife/producing partner Emma Thomas will executive produce Pfister's untitled debut, which is currently coming together behind a veil of secrecy.

According to a person familiar with the production, the project is being cast now, with actors beginning to read the Jack Paglen script. The location for the production has not been determined, but the movie will shoot in the U.S., and could start as soon as fall 2012.

The project has some other interesting names on its pedigree -- it's being financed and produced by Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson from Alcon Entertainment ("The Blind Side"), was developed by a former Overture Films executive named Annie Marter and also now has the involvement of a company called Straight Up Films, which is next financing and producing a science-fiction thriller from the up-and-comers the Purchase Brothers.

What remains to be seen is Nolan's involvement -- though Pfister has discussed the film with him, the  director has been heavily involved in "The Dark Knight Rises" and hasn't even yet met with some key members of the creative team.

Nolan's influence can be felt on the movie in at least one way, however -- plot details and even a general log line are being kept under wraps.


Dark Knight Rises trailer

'Dark Knight Rises' hits the road

'Dark Knight Rises': Christopher Nolan's masked ambition

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Christopher Nolan promoting "The Dark Knight Rises" at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards. Credit: Getty Images

With 'Day of the Dead,' Guillermo del Toro ramps up GDT Inc.

February 21, 2012 |  1:19 pm

Guillero del Toro has signed on to produce/lend his name to yet another film, a CG-animated horror pic titled “Day of the Dead.” 

The independent animation studio Reel FX is behind the Mexico-set feature, which is centered on the Mexican remembrance day and will be directed by television veteran Jorge R. Gutierrez. The idea, Reel FX said,  is to have the movie (language(s) as-yet-unrevealed) ready for release in the fall of 2014, though no distribution deal has been announced.

A release from Reel FX called the film “an action-packed, fully CG-animated picture, with a ‘Romeo and Juliet'-style love story set against a Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ backdrop.” It may well wind up being just that, but the announcement can’t completely disguise the fact that Del Toro’s been offering both his advice and name to a lot of movies lately in a producerial capacity. Apart from “Puss in Boots,” they haven’t exactly been grand slams — “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” “Kung Fu Panda 2,” the little-known “Julia’s Eyes.”

The upcoming horror title "Mama" and animation feature "Rise of the Guardians" also bear the Del Toro imprimatur.

As for his own films, Del Toro hasn’t actually directed a movie since “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” nearly four years ago. Some of that is of course not his fault, what with the Peter Jackson squabbles on “The Hobbit” and all. But the stakes will be raised when Del Toro finally brings out his new movie, the alien-attack monster picture “Pacific Rim,” in May, if he doesn’t put his stamp on three others movies before then.


Guillermo del Toro will travel to the 'Pacific Rim'

Guillermo del Toro resurrects 'Dark' from development hell

After 'Puss in Boots,' momentum for another Guillermo del Toro project

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Guillermo del Toro at Comic-Con. Credit: Getty Images

After 'Puss in Boots,' momentum for another Del Toro animated pic

October 31, 2011 |  9:18 am

EXCLUSIVE: With "Puss in Boots" this weekend, Guillermo del Toro showed that he can successfully steer a family hit. Now "Puss" studio DreamWorks Animation is giving a vote of confidence to another Del Toro-godfathered animated movie, a doll-themed tale that's based on a hit short titled "Alma."

The studio is moving forward with the feature version of "Alma," hiring Megan Holley to pen the script, according to a person familiar with the project who asked not to be identified because the film is still in development. Holley is a well-regarded young screenwriter best known for penning the indie hit "Sunshine Cleaning."

"Alma" will be helmed by Rodrigo Blaas, a former Pixar animator who has come over to DreamWorks Animation to work on the film. (He also made the short, which you can watch below.) Del Toro will offer guidance similar to the kind he offered on "Puss," on which he contributed key notes and feedback (he was officially credited as an executive producer).

When it premiered online, "Alma" became a mini-sensation, attracting attention for its sharp visuals and its conceit of a child who wanders into a creepy doll store and ends up in a compromised situation. The feature, the person said, will be a lot more family oriented--and, if DreamWorks Animation has its way -- plenty "Puss in Boots"-like at the box office.


'Puss in Boots' walks all over the competition

Guillermo del Toro finds soul with "Alma"

--Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Guillermo del Toro at San Diego Comic-Con. Credit: Getty Images

Meet 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark's' young star, Bailee Madison

August 29, 2011 | 11:49 am

Perched on a couch with her legs tucked under her, 11-year-old Bailee Madison was excitedly recounting her time filming the new movie “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” when her mother leaned over a banister in their Toluca Woods home and shouted: “Can I interrupt?”

“Bai,” began Patricia Riley, halting her daughter's interview, “I think you should tell her about Alex's Lemonade. Because it's really cool how your little friends are helping with your charity.”

Bailee paused, seeming momentarily frustrated by the suggestion. But within seconds, a smile was back on her face and she started extolling the virtues of a charity focused on childhood cancer for which she is a national spokesperson.

“Something my mom and I have always said to each other is: ‘We’re not here for interviews. We’re not here to get your picture taken,’ ” the soon-to-be sixth-grader said. “ ‘We’re here to make a difference, and this is our opportunity to.’ ”

These days, though, Bailee is in fact sitting for plenty of interviews and photo shoots, and seems to have a preternatural poise that many industry veterans would envy. Then again, she’s already got more than a decade of experience in front of cameras — she appeared in her first commercial at only 2 weeks old and had a recurring role on Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.”

On the big screen, she’s worked alongside some of the biggest celebrities in show business — Adam Sandler in “Just Go With It,” Natalie Portman in “Brothers” and now Katie Holmes in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” a horror film that opened Friday.

Endlessly perky, distractingly adorable, incredibly well-behaved and devoutly Christian, Bailee fields questions with an adult aplomb. Ask her whose career she hopes to emulate, and she responds:

Continue reading »

Guillermo del Toro resurrects 'Dark' from development hell

August 24, 2011 |  3:07 pm

Soon after Bob and Harvey Weinstein left the Walt Disney Co.’s Miramax Films in 2005, Guillermo del Toro rang up the parent studio. The “Hellboy” filmmaker wanted to know from Disney which movies the Weinsteins were taking with them and which they were leaving behind.

Having clashed with the brothers in directing 1997’s “Mimic,” Del Toro had no interest in collaborating with the Weinsteins again, but he very much wanted to mount a remake of the 1973 TV movie “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” which had been in development at Miramax for several years, at one point with James Wan ("Saw") penciled in to direct.

Lucky for Del Toro, the Weinsteins left it behind. “I got it back, read it, and was still in love with it,” said Del Toro, who had personally optioned the remake rights to the 1973 original.

The feature film, opening Friday and being released by FilmDistrict, was ultimately produced and co-written by Del Toro, who closely mentored first-time feature director Troy Nixey. It’s taken Del Toro more than a decade to bring the film to theaters -- “I was shepherding this movie at every step,” the Mexican-born director said -- but he says the effort was worth it.

“I think it’s academically spooky,” he said. “It has nothing to do with hard-core gore.” To read more about the film and Nixey's feature directing debut, go here.


Guillermo del Toro's imagination is working overtime

Guillermo del Toro and Jon Favreau on fear, weight and Disneyland

 COMIC-CON 2010: Guillermo del Toro isn’t afraid of … much of anything

-- John Horn

Photo: Katie Holmes, right, and Bailee Madison star in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." Credit: Carolyn Johns / Miramax Film Corp.

2011 Los Angeles Film Festival will welcome stars Guillermo del Toro, James Franco, Ryan Reynolds and more

May 11, 2011 | 11:16 am

Katie Downtown Los Angeles better get ready to roll out the red carpet.

After announcing the bulk of its lineup last week, the Los Angeles Film Festival on Wednesday revealed its slate of more glamorous screenings and events. The annual festival, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, will welcome Guillermo del Toro as its guest director, and his film "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" will close the festival. That means star Katie Holmes and maybe even husband Tom Cruise should be on hand to lend some star power to the movie gathering, which runs from June 16 to 26 at L.A. Live. It's taken a long time for the movie to get a premiere date: The horror film was produced by Disney's Miramax film unit, but its release was held up when the parent company was shuttering and selling off the specialty film division. Although Del Toro is credited as the film's producer and co-writer, he was a very active participant in the film's making.

The festival's special screening will be "Green Lantern," the highly anticipated film based on the popular DC comic and starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. That likely means the crowd will be comprised of more fanboys than last year, when "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" played in that slot and hundreds of teen girls camped out in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Robert Pattinson.

Meanwhile, two smaller but also buzzworthy films will be shown in the gala screenings program. One is "Drive," which stars Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan and is about to have its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The other, Chris Weitz's "A Better Life," is about an illegal immigrant's quest to start over in Los Angeles. It will have its world debut at the festival.

Continuing his quest to make an appearance at every significant cultural event, James Franco will sit down for a conversation about "film, poetry and pushing the creative envelope," according to the festival's release. He will also present a film he wrote, directed and stars in, "The Broken Tower," about gay poet Hart Crane. 

LAFF will also welcome Julie Taymor, who recently came under creative fire for her involvement in the highly criticized and troubled "Spider-Man" musical on Broadway. She will be discussing how one takes source material and makes it work in theater or film.


2011 Los Angeles Film Festival lineup unveiled

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Katie Holmes stars in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." Credit: FilmDistrict.

Guillermo del Toro will travel to the 'Pacific Rim'

March 9, 2011 |  1:57 pm

It’s as good as parlor games get in Hollywood. What movie will Guillermo del Toro direct next?

With the  filmmaker’s “At the Mountains of Madness” having fallen apart at Universal, Legendary Pictures now says that Del Toro will direct the monster invasion drama "Pacific Rim” later this year, with the film set for release in the summer of 2013.

Del Toro has been associated with any number of movies over the last several years, principally the two-part “Hobbit” movies, which he  spent two years working in New Zealand on but which are now being made by “The Lord of the Rings’” Peter Jackson. (Del Toro has not been behind the cameras since 2008’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.”)

When he returned from New Zealand this summer, studios feverishly tries to land his services. In the past six months, the 46-year-old writer-director had been in various stages of development on Disney's theme-park adaptation “The Haunted Mansion,” the animated film “Trollhunters” and "Madness." This after previously developing new versions of “Frankenstein” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” as well as the Roald Dahl adaptation “The Witches" and the child-centric apocalyptic film “Saturn and the End of Days."

The Mexican-born filmmaker produced and co-wrote the horror remake "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," due in theaters this August.

"My partnership with Legendary represents, both in scale and creative demands, a huge step forward for me," Del Toro said in a statement.

--John Horn

Photo: Guillermo del Toro. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times


Thriller 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark' gets new distributor, August release date

February 14, 2011 |  1:30 pm

“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” has escaped from the shadows.

The thriller, produced by Guillermo del Toro and starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes, had once been scheduled for a Jan. 21 release by Miramax Films. But the movie was thrown into limbo when Disney sold the specialty label in a $660-million deal. It was unclear what Miramax's new owner, Colony Capital, would do with it -- Disney didn't want to hold on to the title and do its own release. 

Now, new distributor FilmDistrict says it has acquired all U.S. rights to the film from Colony Capital and will release the movie on Aug. 12. FilmDistrict is the new financing, production and distribution outfit launched by producer Graham King and Tim Headington. Other potential distributors said they wanted to cut the film to get a PG-13 rating, but FilmDistrict will release “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” with its original R rating.

FilmDistrict’s slate includes April 1’s “Insidious,” April 8’s “Soul Surfer” and Sept. 16’s “Drive.” The company’s theatrical distribution president, Bob Berney, previously released Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Orphanage,” which Del Toro produced, when Berney was running Picturehouse Entertainment.

A trailer for “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” which follows a young girl’s frightening encounter with nasty, tooth-collecting gremlins who live in a mansion’s furnace, was shown to wide acclaim at last summer’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. The finished movie now could end up back at Comic-Con this summer. The film, a loose remake of the 1973 television movie of the same name, was directed by newcomer Troy Nixey.

--John Horn

Photo: Katie Holmes in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." Credit: Miramax Films

How James Cameron will spend his non-'Avatar' time

February 1, 2011 | 10:46 am

James Cameron may be throwing his "Avatar" sequels into a higher gear, writing and prepping movies so they'll be ready for release by 2014 and 2015. But over the coming months he'll also kick-start a busy side career as a mentor and producer.

Before he starts working in earnest on "Avatar," Cameron will be steering a trio of other films.

They include Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's Arctic thriller "At the Mountains of Madness," a reboot of medical action-adventure "Fantastic Voyage" and a live-action 3-D film centered on Cirque de Soleil that will deploy some of the 3-D technology he used to shoot "Avatar."

The Del Toro film is on track to start shooting in June, and "Fantastic Voyage" will proceed shortly after that. But neither, he said, should impinge on his "Avatar" schedule. "Those both ['Mountains' and 'Voyage'] should be largely through the pipeline before I have to take the phone off the hook and get singularly focused on the two 'Avatar' films," Cameron said in an interview with 24 Frames.

The first product of Cameron's new spate of producing efforts can be seen Friday with the opening of "Sanctum," a 3-D underwater thriller set in Australia; for more on his unusual decision to get involved with that movie -- which includes a desire to demonstrate that 3-D can be just as effective in intimate stories as in big-canvas ones -- please see our recent print story.

As for "Madness," Cameron downplays his input on the genre film. "Guillermo doesn’t need a lot of help," Cameron said. "He’s a pretty self-contained, visionary guy, does his own writing, works with a team of designers. He’s certainly not going to need me to come to the set."

So why did he jump in? "It was working with [Del Toro] and Universal to try to figure out the best, most efficient way to shoot the film and act as a shuttle diplomat more than anything to keep the momentum going on the project."

But don't expect the producing activity to continue when this little streak ends.

All of this behind-the-scenes activity is uncharacteristic for a man who prefers to immerse himself in his own films, and when his latest three projects are done, he'll be stepping back from his patron role.

“The recent decision I made is, I don’t really want to produce movies [that I don't direct] anymore,” Cameron said. “It makes sense to do these films to prove a point, but that’s not something I see myself doing 10 years from now.”

-- Rebecca Keegan


 Photo: James Cameron at the "Sanctum" premiere. Credit: Fred Prouser / Reuters

Guillermo del Toro and James Cameron begin to climb the mountains of madness

December 6, 2010 |  2:31 pm

Guillermo del Toro has so much going on these days, what with his animation films and other development projects that fans expectantly waiting for "At the Mountains of Madness," the horror auteur's long-planned adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft novella , might worry it's taking a back seat.

They shouldn't, the auteur says.

In a conversation with 24 Frames Monday, Del Toro said he's actively engaged with the project and moving ahead with the tale of the mysteries and monsters on an Antarctic expedition. In fact, just last week Del Toro met with studio Universal for the so-called summit meeting in which he walked executives through his concepts and models for the movie. The script is also ready, he said.

So how soon could shooting begin? This summer, he hopes, and possibly as early as June, according to the filmmaker.

And lest you think producer James Cameron is simply putting his name on it while he's off working on "Avatar 2", think again: The "Terminator" director was present for the summit meeting and has been offering Del Toro some notes.

"In his subtle style he said to me, 'I have a few notes, but I have one fatal flaw [that I see in the script],'" Del Toro recalled. "He pointed out one thing that was big. I've been thinking about this for 35 years, and he pointed out something I'd never seen."

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Guillermo del Toro. Credit: Miguel Villagran / Associated Press


The logic behind Guillermo del Toro's madness

Guillermo del Toro finds soul with 'Alma'

Guillermo del Toro opens up on 'The Hobbit'

Hero Complex: Guillermo del Toro scares up a 'Haunted Mansion' film



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