Now that Terry Gilliam has
passed on been allowed to do whatever he wants by Amazon, Guillermo del Toro is officially the unluckiest filmmaker currently working. Whenever del Toro announces some intriguing-sounding project (Hellboy III, At the Mountains of Madness, that Charlie Kaufman-scripted Slaughterhouse-Five, The Hobbit, Frankenstein, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Silent Hills, some others I’ve probably forgotten), the movie gods take it as a challenge to make sure that he not do that, generally for reasons of del Toro’s post-Blade II movies only barely making their money back, if they do that at all. But given how much money his 2013 monsters-vs.-giant-robots movie Pacific Rim made overseas, the decision to make a sequel to it seemed like a safe bet. Just recently, del Toro talked about making a Pacific Rim animated series to go along with the film when it’s released in 2017. And the way del Toro described Pacific Rim 2, it sounded delightfully weird, like del Toro got you hooked and can now do whatever the fuck he wants with it. Everything’s coming up roses, right? Alas, Pacific Rim 2 may have to join the rest of del Toro’s forgotten dreams soon.
The reason that Pacific Rim 2 may have fallen through is, fittingly, because it’s caught in the battle of a battle between two giants. Specifically, Warner Bros. (who released Pacific Rim as a co-production with Legendary Pictures) and Universal (who were set to release Pacific Rim 2 as a co-production with Legendary Pictures). Warner Bros. had previously been Legendary’s partner for nine years, but after the release of Godzilla, Legendary left to become partners with Universal (apparently the change in venue was the result of Legendary’s head Thomas Tull being a raging egomaniac who takes credit for the success of movies that would have been hits without his studio, like The Dark Knight). Their collaboration is not even one year old at this point, and it’s already produced some of the year’s biggest hits, namely Jurassic World and Straight Outta Compton, as well as some of the year’s biggest bombs, namely Seventh Son and Blackhat (someday, Blackhat, you will get your time in the sun). The inciting incident proved to be Legendary moving its Kong: Skull Island from Universal to Warner Bros., which led to the announcement of spin-offs where King Kong fights Godzilla (there were apparently references to the “Monarch” company featured in Godzilla in the script of Skull Island). Universal had balked at Kong‘s price tag and at Tull annoying the studio brass with his damn ego again (no Thomas, your 25% investment in Jurassic World did not make or break it). If you’re wondering when Pacific Rim 2 comes back into this, it’s fallen into limbo (with a possibility that it doesn’t come out of limbo) as the one project on the Legendary-Universal docket that hadn’t yet begun production, to be sorted out when their relationship is sorted out. The projects that have at least begun production include Steve Jobs, del Toro’s Crimson Peak (which Legendary has footed the entire bill for, with Universal only distributing), Krampus, Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, and Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall (which Tull has a “story by” credit for), the latter two being notable “trouble projects” for Universal.
But what of del Toro in all this corporate in-fighting? What will happen to him if Pacific Rim 2 falls through? You can certainly help his chances of getting another movie made by voting with your wallet and seeing Crimson Peak. del Toro has said that he wants to make a small, black-and-white movie with John Hurt, and given Hurt’s current health situation, that may need to take top priority (if it’s more than just the vaguest whiff of an idea) in Pacific Rim 2‘s place. Maybe he can do something with Charlie Day, like direct an episode of Sunny or follow him around with a camcorder. Maybe he can give us a full-length tour of his house and release it into theaters. God knows I’d pay for that.