Guillermo del Toro confesses he turned down Universal Monsters franchise

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Mar 26, 2021, 11:03 PM EDT (Updated)

The great filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has seen a lot of projects come and go, but there is one that he wishes he didn't take a pass on. For a filmmaker with a catalog this deep, there are always a few that got away.

In a new TimesTalk video interview, Del Toro discusses his outstanding new film The Shape of Water and his career in general, which has been notable for both the films he has made (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim, etc) as well as the movies that have gone unrealized (Pinocchio, The Hobbit, At the Mountains of Madness and so on).

But while Del Toro is largely philosophical about the projects he couldn't get off the ground, as well as the many opportunities he has turned down (Thor and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban among them), he says there is one offer that he truly regrets not taking: back in 2007, long before Universal Pictures came up with the now-failed idea of the Dark Universe, the studio offered him a chance to reboot their classic Universal Monsters:

“I’ve said no to things that are enormous and I’ve never looked back, you know? 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 there's anyone who could have done the Universal Monsters justice, it would be Del Toro: he has a keen insight into the nature of monsters, loves them and has said many times that his dream project is a new adaptation of Frankenstein. Could you imagine del Toro at the helm of a series of films like that, Dracula, The Mummy and The Wolf Man? We sure could, and we're a bit bummed it never happened.

Instead, we got the premature launch of the Dark Universe, which crashed and burned with last summer's box office and critical flop The Mummy. The Dark Universe concept was to turn the monsters into action figures and link them all together through a S.H.I.E.L.D.-like agency, an idea so far afield from what those characters were originally about that audiences tuned out.

In case you are curious what del Toro's take on the Universal Monsters might have been, The Shape of Water actually owes a lot of its inspiration to The Creature from the Black Lagoon -- so in a way Del Toro did get to play in that sandbox after all. The Shape of Water opens this Friday (December 1) and we encourage you to see it.

Do you think the Universal Monsters would have been in better and more successful hands had Guillermo del Toro accepted that offer?

(via Slashfilm)