"I’m taking a sabbatical for a year as a director," he said. "I was going to do Fantastic Voyage, but after The Shape of Water I need to take pause.”
The Shape of Water, a fairy tale/love story set against the backdrop of the Cold War is already making huge waves (pun intended) at film festivals and early screenings and is slated to make an official splash on December 8.
The Fantastic Voyage, meant to be del Toro's next movie after Water, was a planned remake of the 1966 film based on Jerome Bixby's story about a group of submarine crew members who shrink themselves down in order to perform delicate brain surgery on a scientist. The idea for remaking the movie has been around since the mid-80s so we suppose audiences can wait a little longer for it. David S. Goyer and James Cameron were on board for writing and producing respectively so let's hope this one doesn't fall into the oblivion that is development hell.
In addition to Voyage, his much talked about black and white project known as Silver is also being put on hold, although it only remains in the scripted stage and only half-written at that. It will apparently tell the story of a Mexican wrestler (luchadore) who also takes up the mantle of vampire hunter when he discovers that the politicians around him are members of the blood-sucking undead. Gonzo premise aside, Silver has also become the stuff of fabled legend, on par to become del Toro's elusive cinematic project like Don Quixote was for Welles, The Aryan Papers for Kubrick, and Dune for Jodorowsky.
For the Mexican director, however, many projects have remained elusive over the years or he's simply jumped ship after months of forward momentum. His dream project of adapting H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness fizzled out after having Tom Cruise on board to star and James Cameron to produce while del Toro simply walked away from directing The Hobbit movies, allowing Peter Jackson to take his place.
This isn't an indictment on del Toro himself, as securing the proper amount of funding on time is often the problem, no matter how cool they sound. Sometimes, studios just aren't willing to shell out for ideas, whether they include sweeping and expensive set pieces or mature elements that will alienate certain audiences. It is just dissapointing, at least from the perspective of a fan, that he often lets so much time pass between projects. On the other hand, it also means he wants to do things right from getting himself into the right mental frame of mind so he can expertly get behind the camera to making sure the script and casting are airtight. He's nothing if not ambitious to an insane degree that shows in his filmmaking.
Luckily, there is some good news from the announcement of del Toro's Sabbatical. He will continue to work in the entertainment industry in a producing capacity on things like Pacific Rim: Uprising, Trollhunters Season 2, and Carnival Row.