After the Oscar-winning success of The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro and Fox Searchlight have decided to stick together a while longer.
The studio and the filmmaker announced a new overall deal Tuesday that will cover "live action feature film projects to be written, produced and/or directed by del Toro," but that's not all. Fox Searchlight also announced a new label for genre film distribution, including new projects "produced and curated" by del Toro. With this deal, one of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror's brightest stars has a new home base to not only make his own films, but highlight up-and-coming filmmakers in the process. All films will be financed by Fox Searchlight.
“For the longest time, I've hoped to find an environment in which I can distribute, nurture and produce new voices in smart, inventive genre films and channel my own. In Fox Searchlight, I’ve found a real home for live action production — a partnership based on hard work, understanding of each other and, above all, faith," del Toro said in a statement. "After the wonderful experience I had with Fox Searchlight on The Shape of Water, I am honored to have the opportunity to continue the relationship. I am more than grateful to [Fox Searchlight Presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula, and Fox Searchlight Co-Heads of Production David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield] for their trust in me and for joining me on this adventure."
The first project under the new deal will be Antlers, a film following " an elementary school teacher who takes in a troubled student that harbors a mysterious family secret with deadly consequences." Del Toro will serve as one of the producers on the project, which will be directed Scott Cooper and written by Nick Antosca (adapted from his short story "The Quiet Boy") and Henry Chaisson.
Del Toro has long been a darling of genre fans everywhere thanks to his attention to detail and his unrestrained love of all things strange, but his Oscar wins earlier this year elevated him to another level. He's not just "Visionary Director Guillermo del Toro" now. He's "Academy Award-Winning Visionary Director Guillermo del Toro," and Fox Searchlight clearly wanted to lock him down while everyone was still celebrating their collaborative success on The Shape of Water. The news is also good for genre cinema as a whole, as del Toro now gets a more formal outlet to feed his habit of highlighting rising genre stars (as he did with Andy Muschietti on Mama and Guillem Morales on Julia's Eyes) as a producer.
It's still not clear what this means for del Toro's immediate future as a director, particularly after he announced last fall that he would take a year off from directing. Even if he sticks to that promise, he could easily start work on something later in 2018 or early in 2019, and it's already been reported that he's set to work on carnival noir drama Nightmare Alley for Fox Searchlight. If that holds, it could be next. If not...well, Fox Searchlight has given him a playground now. Let's see what he does with it.