Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

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

Jim Hill

Jim's musings on the history of and rumors about movies, TV shows, books and theme parks including Disneyland, Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

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

Rate This
  • Comments 21

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?


Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post
  • All you need to do is watch The Orphanage (the Spanish film that Del Toro produced) to realize that he is the perfect choice to do the new HM movie.

  • I, personally, am thrilled about this.

    I loved Pan's Labyrinth and I can't wait to see his rendition of The Haunted Mansion.

  • Sorry, but ever since Del Toro stated that he wanted The Hobbit to be a "hard PG-13", I've lost the ability to trust him to understand that fanboy 30-somethings are not supposed to be the target audience for everything.  A Haunted Mansion flick should be a creepy romp, appropriate for the same ages that the ride is appropriate for:  Everyone.

  • I'm really excited by this new Haunted Mansion movie, and I applaud Disney for being willing to give a film version another go. It's great when the Mouse uses its own creations as inspiration for further creations, as opposed to simply buying them (Muppets and Marvel, PUKE). The trouble with the Eddie Murphy version of HM is that: 1. It was played primarily as a comedy, with terror elements. And it was done VERY badly. For an example of how that sort of thing is done RIGHT, view "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein".  Yes, I'm serious. 2. Eddie Murphy cannot ad-lib worth a damn. It's a mistake to rely on that, as the first film unfortunately did. It's the same wrong-headed notion that destroyed the character of Mushu the dragon in Mulan. Bluster is not the same as funny.

    I just hope del Toro does not do the HM film as a straight horror movie. The Mansion was never meant to terrorize patrons. It was meant to be entertainingly creepy, like scary stories told around the reassuring warmth of a campfire. With that in mind,  I'm rooting for this movie. The question is: which Mansion will del Toro use? The Disneyland version or the WDW version? (I'm partial to the WDW version. IMO it's a plussed version of the DL one).

  • Finally someone who can do the Haunted Mansion justice! The only thing that concerns me is the 3-D aspect. That bit seems to be jumping on the fad bandwagon. We'll just have to wait and see. I have my fingers crossed!

  • SQUWEE! <3

Page 2 of 2 (21 items) 12