Guillermo del Toro enters "Haunted Mansion"

Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:20am EDT
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By Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In his first move since deciding not to direct "The Hobbit" movies, Guillermo del Toro has decided to bring Disney's Haunted Mansion ride to the big screen.

Del Toro announced his involvement in the project Thursday at Comic-Con during a surprise appearance at the end of the "Tron" session.

Del Toro, who checked out of "The Hobbit" in May because of production delays, will co-write and produce the movie, to be called "The Haunted Mansion." He may direct the film as well. Before his appearance, he offered The Hollywood Reporter an exclusive account of how the project came together.

"It's going to be a thrill ride for the whole family but it's definitely going to be scary," he said. "(Walt) Disney is one of the creators of some of the scariest images in my childhood. People forget that he not only made sweet images but also images of nightmare. We need to honor that side of the legacy."

One thing is clear, though. The new Mansion movie will have no connection to Disney's earlier attempt to turn the ride into a movie with the 2003 Eddie Murphy supernatural comedy also titled "The Haunted Mansion."

Disney hopes to stir up mass appeal by drawing on Del Toro's ability to summon up fantastic images like those he created in "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy."

"We want a scary movie that's as scary as the ride. If you're 11 years old, you can go on the ride but it's still scary," said Disney production head Sean Bailey. "Tonally we're going to make a movie that is for families but is a fun and, at times, scary movie."

Del Toro's involvement began with a conversation between Bailey and Disney executive Brigham Taylor who, while going through the company's library, alighted on "Mansion," which they thought could benefit from a retelling. Del Toro was in New Zealand at the time working on "The Hobbit," and Taylor flew down to visit the filmmaker to discuss "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," a horror thriller del Toro was producing for Disney label Miramax.   Continued...