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When word broke that Guillermo Del Toro is developing a remake of "Beauty and the Beast" to star Emma Watson, it reminded me of an April Fool's Day joke, and I couldn't pinpoint why.
It took me almost an hour to finally pull up the 1998 article that Harry Knowles ran on Ain't It Cool, in which he gloated about how many people had fallen for his April Fool's Day jokes. He printed that Luc Besson was attached to remake "Beauty and the Beast" and that Guillermo Del Toro was about to go to Cannes with a secret remake of "Curse Of The Demon." As he notes in the article, I was the one person who wrote in that year, still early days in my friendship with Harry, to call B.S. on his stories. I had that collision of pranks in my head, and this news set that off for me for fairly obvious reasons.
This seems like a very natural fit of filmmaker and material, and it certainly answers the question of whether or not other filmmakers will hire Emma Watson. I think she's earned her starring roles in films, and I'm mystified by anyone who doesn't think she's developed into an interesting and distinct young actor, maybe the strongest of the young "Harry Potter" cast. I think the only way we'll ever really see what else she's capable of is for directors to roll the dice and try. "Portrait Of A Wallflower" sounds intriguing, and I thought she was fine in a very small part in "My Week With Marilyn," but this film and her possible collaboration with David Yates on "Your Voices In My Head" both sound like they're going to test her more than anything else we've ever seen her do.
It sounds like this is still one of many possible options for Guillermo, who is neck-deep in "Pacific Rim" right now, and while he's a prodigious multi-tasker, I'm betting he's focused closely on that movie above anything else. He's been waiting for a while to get back behind the camera, and "Pacific Rim" represents him working out some of his most deeply-felt geek fetishes, giant monsters and giant robots. He is one of the people who I've heard speak about the importance of attaching yourself to many, many, many projects knowing that many of them will end up dead before they ever make it to the screen.
I was at Comic-Con the year he announced he was working to bring a new Haunted Mansion movie to the screen, and that's one of those passion projects that I guarantee he'll keep chasing as long as it's remotely viable. He's also got an overall deal with Dreamworks Animation, and he's got a consultant role on their films that may also include directing one for them. He's had a long-standing deal with Universal to develop several classic movie monsters into new films, but I'm curious to see if his frustrations about "At The Mountains Of Madness" will keep him from ever actually making "Frankenstein" or "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde." Hell, I'm still dying to see his take on the remarkable Dan Simmons novel "Drood," and I'd take a "Hellboy" sequel to wrap up that trilogy if he felt like doing it.
This will be exciting if it actually happens, but for now, it becomes one more interesting "maybe" for a director who should work far more frequently than he does.
"Pacific Rim" is set to arrive in theaters May 10, 2013.