It was four years ago this month at SDCC 2010 that Guillermo del Toro announced his plans for a reboot of The Haunted Mansion for Disney based on their popular theme park attraction of the same name. Since then, the filmmaker has been involved with so many projects – Pacific Rim and its planned sequel, Crimson Peak, an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness, the upcoming FX TV series The Strain based on his novel, and much more — that it seemed like Del Toro’s plans to bring a frightened version of the tale to the big screen had fall to the wayside.
Recently, Del Toro did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit where he gave a brief update on The Haunted Mansion where he mentioned that they’re having trouble finalizing the screenplay, but they are developing art pieces and maquettes of the Hat Box Ghost and more.
Well, I spent 2 weeks ago, I went back to Disneyland with the executives with whom I am developing the screenplay. It’s a hard screenplay to crack. We’ve done it a few times. We are on our third or fourth draft, with 2 different writing teams, and I think the main thing is to try to combine everything that is great about the ride into the movie, and to make it a really intense but with a sense of fun – just like the ride. It’s a tough balance, and I would be happy to report if we had the screenplay. We always feel like we are very close, but not yet. We have developed 50-60 pieces of art, We’ve developed maquettes of the Hat Box Ghost, over the body and face of Doug Jones, but we have not succeeded yet in cracking the screenplay. I have to believe that Disney will make this movie as soon as we crack the screenplay, but until then we cannot tackle it. It is a movie I would love to direct, but I would be happy to just produce it if the timing is not right. I, by the way, was named Guest for the Day for the Haunted Mansion the last time I did, which gave me unlimited access to ride the mansion several times during the day. Unfortunately it was just the moment my left knee decided to bust and I had to go back home with a busted knee.
So, it looks like the project is still in development, but is more leaning towards development Hell as they say. Del Toro is working on the screenplay, although it’s tough going, and it looks like they want Doug Jones — who did the mo-cap as Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and worked with Del Toro on the Hellboy movies — is who they want for the Hat Box Ghost. And while Del Toro, as we mentioned, has his hands in a lot of projects, he’d take being just the producer for The Haunted Mansion even if he can’t direct it because of scheduling conflicts.
Let’s hope Del Toro can see through til the end on this project, including directing the film, because if there’s anyone who’s perfect to bring this movie through to fruition a non-PG way, it’s Del Toro.