At the Mountains Of Madness

Traditionally it has been rare to get a glimpse — at least for the everyday movie fan — into the decision making process that goes on behind closed doors in Hollywood. Prior to the dawn of the Internet and its later birth of the hyper-active blogosphere, these decisions were made and often not talked about until someone wrote a book about all the great movies that could have been. The Internet has blown those doors wide open, as evidence by filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro opening up to fans this week to talk of the potential demise of his adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. So who is to blame for killing a film that so  many would like to see made? Apparently, indirectly, it’s Ridley Scott.

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Wish you could watch the Frank Darabont-scripted Indiana Jones 4? Dying to see Terry Gilliam’s Watchmen? Curious as to how a ton of great scripts got passed over before Tim Burton made his remake of Planet of the Apes? “Tales From Development Hell” author David Hughes joins us to dissect why we’re fascinated with stories of flicks that were never made, explains why At The Mountains of Madness got canned and explains how the big damned system of tentpole studio production works. Download Episode #125

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Culture Warrior

I’ll be the first to admit that the title of this post is a tad hyperbolic. The box office should not necessarily be forgotten, and it does, to an extent, matter. Predicting openings, percentage drops, and analyzing receipts present an interesting way to interact with movies as well as provide one of many ways to attempt an understanding of audiences in terms of evolving trends and patterns, as our own Jeremy Kirk does so astutely twice a week. Waiting until the early afternoon every Sunday to see the weekend’s estimations has been part of my weekly Internet routine for as long as I’ve been a movie nerd. Box office is, simply put, a part of the conversation. But we aren’t movie executives. Our investment is the box office is tied only to our social, emotional, and intellectual engagement with the films that sell tickets. The amount of tickets sold to see the product should never be confused with the product itself, and box office has severe limitations and problems in terms of understanding audiences’ relationship to a film. My concern with the ways we interact with and form conversations around box-office is not in regard to whether we should have such conversations at all, but the problematic meanings we routinely extrapolate from these numbers. To be frank, unless you work for a movie studio, a movie’s worth is never measurable in numbers. I concede that this is an obvious point, but unfortunately the box office continues to disproportionately dominate so […]

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Considering the complexities of a large corporation, the maze of impossibilities to get through on the way to getting a movie made, and the time lines at work here, this may seem unfair, but the buck has to stop at someone’s desk. What’s Playing (via /Film) is reporting that Universal might be in the earliest stages of prepping another Doom adaptation that would be in 3D and cost something around $175 million dollars. That number might as well be made up at this stage in development, but it seems reasonable to expect that doing a big action flick like Doom would require a big check book. This comes on the heels of Universal passing on Guillermo Del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness project because the $150 million budget was too big to manage alongside an R-rating and source material that’s not super hot. But wait. Is Doom really all that hot?

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we do what Hollywood finds impossible by creating a successful reboot. The show is getting an upgrade (which is why you can hear both drilling and confetti being tossed constantly in the background), and the new format promises to make everyone who listens to the show three inches taller and wildly, wildly wealthy. As in, so wealthy you’ll have to figure out how to buy off politicians. You can check out the show guide below, but the quick and dirt version involves two beloved Rejects battling it out in a game of wits, a teenage director seeing her first SXSW premiere, a visual effects artist arguing on behalf of post-conversion 3D, and 5 myths about production that ensure movies will be crappy. Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Culture Warrior

Somewhere hidden away in the mid-1990s, there’s a young man reading a “Star Log” in his bedroom foaming at the mouth at the words on the glossy magazine page. There they are. The words “Watchmen” and “Terry Gilliam” right next to each other like a pair of star cross’d lovers finally exchanging vows. The iconic comic books that he grew up reading are finally going to be seen on the living, breathing, bloody brilliant big screen. Then it doesn’t happen. There are a lot of reasons why it doesn’t happen (too many to dive into right now), but that young man is eternally disappointed when those words he once reveled in start to fade away. With the announcement that Universal has passed on Guillermo Del Toro’s At The Mountains of Madness, a lot of fans might be finding themselves in a similar position, and it’s not just Lovecraft devotees. It’s movie fans of all stripes who see this as another defeat of the auteur in service of the bottom line. Is it Universal’s fault? Sure. Much in the same way that everyone shares a little blame. It does, however, shine its silver lining as a spotlight on the disease of the studio system that’s been picked at and mulled over and puzzled for the past few years. Luckily, it also exposes the solution: Failure.

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Earlier in the day, I typed a news post while standing up because I’d jumped out of my chair for joy. At the Mountains of Madness was finally set to go into production this summer. The record is now being corrected, and it turns out that it was false joy and pipe dreams put forth by producer Don Murphy trying to pressure an answer from Universal. That answer is no. It’s unclear why, and I’m checking with Universal for their side of the story, but the assumption seems to be that the R-rating and cost were a bit too much for them to handle. Instead, Guillermo Del Toro might move on to deliver a PG-13 big-budget piece of work called Pacific Rim that was written by Clash of the Titans writer Travis Beacham and deals with the world defending itself from alien monsters in the future. Del Toro and monsters is a good fit, and it’s set up at Legendary, but its high concept sounds eerily familiar. Like, say, Battleship. Or Battle: Los Angeles. That’s a shallow assessment, but that doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.

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It’s all happening. The best working director for the job of tackling a Lovecraft novel is going to roll cameras in June, meaning that At the Mountains of Madness could be in theaters as early as Winter 2012. Tom Cruise will be starring – which raises an eyebrow – but fans of the novel know that there’s an opportunity here to deliver Cruise at his Nic Cage-y best. Ron Perlman, who is contractually obligated to be in all geek properties of this kind, will be involved as well. According to io9, everything is set to go. Fingers are crossed now, and hopefully we’ll be getting some concept art soon. This is when it gets exciting. There’s no mention of how this will affect The Hobbit, which is shooting currently, but I can’t imagine they’d schedule this if it even budged the trip to Middle Earth by a single day. At the most, it sounds like Guillermo Del Toro will go directly from one to the other. Besides, I hear the Antarctic is wonderful in the summer.

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Support Our Sponsor: BP – Doing absolutely anything you ask them in order to change their terrible public persona. This week, on a very special Reject Radio, Todd Gilchrist from every movie website ever stops by to relax after Comic-Con, to swap hair tips, and to lob invective at the movie releases this week. We also go head-to-head in a Segment Three Showdown that pits annoying movie characters against each other.

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Guillermo Del Toro has had one of the fuller cinematic plates for a while now with several projects circling his director’s chair at any given time. He was attached to direct the Hobbit films, but MGM’s financial woes have put the temporary kibosh on the project and forced Del Toro to move on to something new. His to-do list includes reboot/remakes of Frankenstein, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, adaptations of David Moody’s Hater and Dan Simmons’ Drood, and probably even an original work or three. But his dream project for quite some time has been an adaptation of H.P Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. The tale follows an expedition to the Antarctic that discovers the remains of an other-worldly civilization of monsters, gods, and monster gods.

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