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Guillermo del Toro is the right man for Disney's new "Haunted Mansion" movie

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Guillermo del Toro is the right man for Disney's new "Haunted Mansion" movie

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In the wake of yesterday's announcement that Guillermo del Toro would be riding herd on a brand-new "Haunted Mansion" movie for Walt Disney Pictures, the film & fan community erupted. And not necessarily in a good way.

Guillermo del Toro. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney PIctures.
All rights reserved

Don't believe me? Then head on over to AintItCool's Talkback section. Where posters there (who are still clearly pissed off that the director of "Pan's Labyrinth" recently opted out of helming "The Hobbit") are accusing Guillermo of grabbing " ... a quick paycheck  from Disney." Meanwhile over at Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeffery Wells -- following yesterday's announcement  -- actually posted a piece with a headline that read "Del Toro Cash-In."

Which is just unfair. Given that -- if there's a person on this planet who should be producing, writing and (hopefully) directing a new "Haunted Mansion" movie -- it's Guillermo del Toro.

I mean, a lot of filmmakers go down to Comic-Con and then give lip service to the fanboys. Saying  that "I'm one of you. Now go see my movie." Whereas Guillermo really is one of us. And by that I mean, not just a fanboy, but also a big honking Disney dweeb.

Photo by Art Streiber. Copyright Wired.com. All rights reserved

Don't believe me? Okay. Then check out this photo of del Toro's Los Angeles home which was taken for a 2009 Wired magazine article. Directly to the right of that large statue of the Sammael beast from "Hellboy," there's a bookcase. Do you see that round, green thing on the shelf there? That's Mike Wazowski from "Monsters, Inc."

And that's just the start of Guillermo's Disneyana collection. From what I've been told, this guy literally owns dozens of versions of the Nautilus from Disney's 1954 film. Which perhaps explains why - when asked where his happy place is - del Toro was said to reply "Mysterious Island at Tokyo DisneySea."

Speaking of theme parks ... When Guillermo was growing up in Mexico, his family used to drive up to LA every summer in the late 1960s / early 1970s. And the highlight of that trip (for del Toro, anyway) was his family's annual trek to Disneyland. Which means that - during this filmmaker's formative years - he regularly visited the original Haunted Mansion. Which is why that version of this quintessential theme park attraction is now burned into Guillermo's brain.

August 8, 1969. Opening day at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So - as hard as this may be for "The Lord of the Rings" fans to understand -- directing "The Hobbit" wasn't del Toro's passion project. But getting the chance to write & produce a new "Haunted Mansion" movie (and hopefully erase the memory of that artfully-designed-but-when-you-get-right-down-to-it-God-awful Eddie Murphy movie from 2003) ... That's something that Guillermo has wanted to do his whole life.

You want proof that del Toro's the right guy for the job? As part of yesterday's "TRON: Legacy" panel at Comic-Con, Guillermo showed a stylized rendering of the Hatbox Ghost and then explained that he hoped to make this character the linchpin of the whole project. The freakin' Hatbox Ghost!?

You see what I'm saying here? del Toro knows the backstory & mythology of the Mansion inside and out. Which - given that he's supposed to have a room at his house that's dedicated to this attraction. Which is decorated with the wallpaper from the really-for-real Disneyland ride - only makes sense, I guess.

Guillermo at yesterday's "Haunted Mansion" announcement in Hall H. Photo courtesy of
Walt Disney Pictures. All rights reserved

More to the point, given the number of times that Imagineers & longtime Disneyland employees have told me that they've see Guillermo at that Park ... This is a guy who genuinely knows this attraction. Why is why del Toro is sure to serve up a genuinely scary story that finally does justice to The Haunted Mansion cinematically.

Which brings us to the next question: Where does Disney Double Dare factor into all of this? Back in September of 2009 at the D23 EXPO, Dick Cook announced this new horror-themed production label for the Mouse. Where all of the films were supposed to be produced under Guillermo's guidance.

But then - just a week after Disney Double Dare was announced - Cook suddenly stepped down as Chairman of Walt Disney Studios. And ever since then, there's been little or no public talk about this Disney's new horror-themed production label. Which - in addition to producing scary animated projects like "Trollhunters" for the Company - was also supposed to help Mickey move into the horror-themed merchandise and book business.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But like I said, since last September, there just hasn't been a lot of talk about Disney Double Dare. Not publicly, anyway. Though I have heard whispers lately that this allegedly dormant production label may soon be used in conjunction with that "Fright Night" remake that DreamWorks Studios is making for Disney. Which is supposed to begin shooting in Greenwood, Mississippi sometime next week.

Anyway ... Will del Toro's new "Haunted Mansion" movie be used to help resurrect the Disney Double Dare production label? To be honest, I don't know. Not yet, anyway.

Following yesterday's announcement at the "TRON: Legacy" panel, I sent e-mails out to a lot of my sources at Walt Disney Studios. But given that most of those folks are still down in San Diego, battling the crowds at the convention center, I don't expect that I'll be hearing back from any of them 'til Monday morning or thereabouts. But as soon as I hear something, I'll post it here, okay?

Katie Holmes in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." Copyright 2010 Miramax Films.
All Rights Reserved

But maybe del Toro will be bringing this topic up himself later today when he makes his second appearance in Hall H at this year's Comic-Con.  That'll be from 2:15 - 3:45 p.m., when Guillermo will be talking up that new horror film that he co-wrote and produced for Miramax Films, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." Which will be hitting theaters in January of 2011.

Anywho ... Don't listen to those nameless nerds who have already posted negative stuff about this new project on the Web. Having Guillermo del Toro write, produce and (hopefully) direct a new "Haunted Mansion" movie is a very good thing.  A very good thing indeed. I mean, this is the motion picture that this acclaimed filmmaker has been dreaming of making since he was 10 years-old.

As del Toro said in a statement that the Studio released yesterday:

I couldn't be more excited to be a part of my own adaptation of the original theme park attraction Walt envisioned and that remains, for me, the most desirable piece of real estate in the whole world. The scary will be scary. We're being true to the spirit of the original imagineers.

Copyright 2010 Walt Disney Pictures. All Rights Reserved

So get ready to " ... hurry back ... hurry back" to your local multiplex. Where in 2012 (or thereabouts), thanks to Guillermo del Toro, we're finally gonna get a "Haunted Mansion" movie that's loaded with "... wall-to-wall creeps and hot & cold running chills."

Your thoughts?


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  • HM is my FAVORITE WDW attraction so I am excited for this. The first movie was cute but in no way resembled POTC or its success. I felt it worked for children and possibly more of a direct to dvd endeavor. They tried too hard to shove everything from the ride into a film whereas in POTC there was this brilliant story and if you looked closely, small throwbacks to the original attraction.

  • I think its a great idea.  I dont think the Eddie Murphy version did the attraction or franchise any justice- and I'm a big fan of the Haunted Mansion attraction.

  • Great article. Given a good script, I think he'll do it justice. Of course, anything will be better than the other HM movie, or even worse, if M. Night Shyamalan was chosen. Unfortunately, you'll always have those who complain just to complain. Would they really want someone directing their Hobbit if the person wasn't 100% passionate about it? That would really give them something to be upset about. They're probably the same ones who give you crap when you share a rumor, then pounce when it never happens.

  • What are you talking about Jim? Del Toro was completely passionate about The Hobbit and worked very hard on it. He didn't just walk away from it, there were serious production issues with MGM and he couldn't do anything. I assure you everyone is ecstatic to see his Haunted Mansion if they can't see his Hobbit.

  • Being a Disney 'nerd' doesn't guarantee anything.  "Supposedly" him having a room at his house dedicated to the HM doesn't guarantee anything.  Showing a stylized rendering of the Hatbox Ghost  as 'proof' that he knows all there is to know about the HM doesn't guarantee anything either.  Positive signs?  Yes.  But there are no guarantee's of anything yet.  Let's wait and see.

  • I'm am completely upset and disheartened that your site employs sneaky and annoying popup ads. This isn't 1999, Jim! These are considered bad practice these days and wholly unnecessary. This coming from a long time reader and someone who has taken your Disneyland tours (before they were banished). C'mon Jim! Why for?!

  • I have to agree with the posts below.  Del Toro was very passionate about doing The Hobbit.  Had he not been, he would not have moved down to New Zeland to ride herd on pre-production.  That being said I am very excited about Del Toro doing the Haunted Mansion the justice it deserves.  This has potential to be very scary, yet fun stuff.

  • This Fearnet.com writer is pretty excited about this ... so it's not all bad! www.fearnet.com/.../b19647_guillermo_del_toro_enters_haunted.html

  • In a word?


    I approve, in case I didn't make it clear.

  • Anyway, to elaborate: I've desperately wanted to see Haunted Mansion done RIGHT as a movie ever since I first endured that Eddie Murphy abomination.

    But I always saw a problem with a potential reboot. As you said, the art design and overall look of the 2003 film was actually quite good. It was the ONLY thing that worked about it, in fact. If you put better actors and a better script into that same environment, you might have a worthy Haunted Mansion movie. So how do you improve on the 2003 film VISUALLY?

    Solution: hire Guillermo del freakin Toro. I literally could not be more excited for this.

    And as a follow-up, "Peter Pan's Labyrinth" (couldn't resist).

  • I think its a great idea to at last have a Disney film which may not end up being "just for kids".

    On a personal note ...where did he get that HM Wallpaper?????

  • Your story was featured in DisMarks! Here is the link to vote it up and promote it: dismarks.com/.../Guillermo_del_Toro_is_the_right_man_for_Disneys_new_Haunted_Mansion_movie

  • It must have been one heck of a sell to get Disney to make another HM movie.

    I for one am not confident this can be pulled off. Mostly because there have been so many disappointing reboots/sequels/etc, I have lost all interest in seeing any new films.  

    If it is good I'll wait for Netflix.

  • Nikki Finke is reporting Double Dare You is no more

  • This project probably originated with "Disney Double Dare". I wouldn't be surprised if it's got connections to the back and forth rumored return and merchandising of the Hatbox Ghost over the past couple of years. Also, 2010 brings the SLG Disney comics to mind. Of the 4 Disney properties licensed to the company, we've gotten 2 movies and an announcement of a 3rd.

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