Things have not gone well early on for Universal’s much-hyped shared world featuring their classic monsters, called the Dark Universe. Their first movie, The Mummy, was released earlier this year. Instead of focusing on what made Universal’s monster movies so great, the horror and tone, they instead opted for an action-heavy, CGI-tainted style. The movie quickly became a financial and critical failure. To make matters worse, the talent Universal had hired to manage this ambitious endeavor began departing, and the future of the Dark Universe was already a big question mark.
But it’s still early. Universal still has time to right the ship if they so choose. And one name fans of the original monster movies believe would be perfect to help steer things away from guaranteed death is none other than Guillermo del Toro (The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak). As it turns out, however, Universal already offered del Toro the chance to work on their monster universe, and he turned it down. Find a quote from del Toro and a video below.
Speaking to The New York Times for their TimesTalks about his latest film, The Shape of Water, del Toro was asked about the number of projects he’s offered and turns down. This is when he revealed that he declined an offer to work on Universal’s monster universe—the one decision in his career he says he regrets—and not just to direct one movie, but to basically run the whole darn thing:
“The only time I repent I didn’t do something was in 2007, when Universal, in an incredibly gentle and beautiful manner, said ‘Do you want to take over the monster universe?’ And they gave me the reins of several properties, and I didn’t do it. That I repent. So this is a confessional moment, I repent. That’s the only thing.”
If you’re a fan of del Toro’s you’re likely surprised by this. Few people are as passionate about Universal’s classic monster movies and horror in general as he is—one only need see his famous Bleak House to know that.
Of course, we don’t know the details behind the decision; he must have said no for a reason. Perhaps Universal said “Hey, we’re making a connected universe of our monster movies, but we want them to be over-the-top action flicks with lots of CGI. People just love that. You in?” And, despite his love for the subject, del Toro understandably sprinted in the opposite direction, waving wooden crosses and any other evil repellents he had on him at the time.
Del Toro certainly isn’t alone in wishing he had accepted Universal’s offer. Any fan of his work will agree, such as Hannibal creator and showrunner, Star Trek: Discovery co-creator and former showrunner, and American Gods co-creator and (now former) showrunner Bryan Fuller:
But for me, this doesn’t look like something that needs to be a regret in del Toro’s career. Again, it is still early. Universal can still fix things. And del Toro is someone who can help fix them. They first asked him a decade ago, long before we knew their plans. Now that they know of del Toro’s regret over not accepting their offer, it seems to me like it’d be a great freakin’ time to reach out to him again and see where he stands.
One of the projects del Toro has been attached to for a very long time now is his take on Frankenstein. So that would be the obvious place to try to get him involved, if he’s not able to commit to running the entire Dark Universe.
Grabbing del Toro would be a best case scenario, but it’s not crucial. If Universal really wants to salvage the Dark Universe it’s really not that complicated:
Find talented people who actually care about the source material.
Forget this action movie BS. Embrace the horror and tone the originals are known for.
PRACTICAL EFFECTS. Use as little CGI as possible.
Click right here to read more on the Dark Universe.
The entire video of del Toro’s chat can be found below. The quote above can be found at the 15:27 mark.