A master of the monster movie, it should come as no surprise that Universal wanted Guillermo del Toro to helm their Dark Universe.
The first entry in Universal’s Dark Universe debuted earlier this year, when they rebooted The Mummy for the second time. The movie was deemed a critical failure, and producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan were removed from the franchise, leaving the Dark Universe’s future uncertain.
But that fate could have been very different, had Guillermo del Toro been the mastermind behind Universal’s interconnected monster movies. However, when Universal approached him, he turned down the opportunity.
Speaking to TimesTalks, del Toro admitted that this was a moment to “repent” for him.
“I’ve said no to things that are enormous and I’ve never looked back,” del Toro told TimesTalks host and film critic, Logan Hill. “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.”
Guillermo del Toro’s love of monster movies, Universal’s in particular, is no big secret. He has cited Creature from the Black Lagoon as his inspiration for The Shape of Water to the media multiple times, and at one point even had a Frankenstein movie in development – though that was seemingly shelved once the Dark Universe went into production. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention Abe Sapien, Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim.
In 2007, del Toro was likely deep in production on Hellboy II, which released in 2008, as well as developing At the Mountains of Madness. Though the latter film never came to fruition, largely due to budget constraints, del Toro’s slate was undoubtedly too full to take on a sprawling universe.
We can’t be too disappointed, however. Had del Toro remained locked up in a potential decades-long franchise of monster movies, we might never have seen The Shape of Water come to life. Which would have been the biggest shame of all.
“Mistakes teach you a lot,” del Toro ultimately said of this one regret of his career. “I think you learn more from failure and mistakes than you do from success.”