Ever since acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro abdicated the director’s chair for The Hobbit, fans of the auteur have eagerly awaited news of his next project. So Del Toro, not a man to disappoint his fan base, made a surprise appearance at the end of the TRON presentation at Comic-Con today to announce his next project: Disney’s The Haunted Mansion.
Del Toro will co-write and produce the movie — inspired by the famed amusement park ride of the same name — and hasn’t ruled out the possibility that he will direct as well.
“It’s going to be a thrill ride for the whole family but it’s definitely going to be scary,” Del Toro told Hollywood Reporter. “Disney is one of the creators of some of the scariest images in my childhood. People forget that he not only made sweet images but also images of nightmare. We need to honor that side of the legacy.”
The Haunted Mansion ride has been a sacred place of sorts for the director since his early childhood — just one of the reasons he was drawn to the project. “When I’m depressed or when I have a problem, I ride the Haunted Mansion ride to clear my head,” he revealed.
But The Mansion isn’t just therapeutic for Del Toro: it is an obsession. The director even has a room in his house dedicated solely to the ride, with secret bookcases, wallpaper from one of the original rooms, and concept art from Imagineer and Mansion co-designer Marc Davis.
So when The Hobbit fell through, the Pan’s Labyrinth director leapt at the opportunity to get involved with the The Haunted Mansion. Although he had several other projects in development he also wanted to start on, he recognized that because of Disney’s own scheduling, “It [wasn’t] a movie I could postpone. ‘Haunted Mansion’ will take special development.”
Disney should count themselves lucky that Del Toro has been harboring a secret Mansion obsession all these years: the writer-producer (maybe director) they just landed is one of the most in-demand, creative minds in the industry right now. His fantastical imagination defines his movies, making films like Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Hellboy (2004), and El Espinazo del Diablo (2001) stand out in an industry that is too often bereft of new ideas.
Del Toro and Disney expect development on the film to last longer than usual while the auteur pens a script worthy of his real-life passion and creates an appropriately ghostly aesthetic of his own imagining — “a haunted house movie for the 21st century.”