With Pacific Rim coming out this week, fans and audience will finally be able to get their Guillermo del Toro fix after a long dry spell. For a filmmaker so immersed in multiple projects, del Toro has a long track record of would-be films. But the combination of del Toro, Charlie Kaufman, and Sluaghterhouse-Five is just too irresistible not get excited about.
According to IndieWire, del Toro has brought on the writer responsible for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation to adapt Kurt Vonnegut’s unstuck-in-time masterpiece. As part of the four picture deal they signed with del Toro in 2008, Universal is trying to start the project in the next twelve months. At the moment, this seems unlikely because del Toro is currently working on Crimson Peak and a pilot for an FX series based on his book The Strain.
Universal is also the studio responsible for killing the much-anticipated adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness. With regards to Slaughterhouse-Five, del Toro claims, “It’s just a catch-22. The studio will make it when it’s my next movie, but how can I commit to it being my next movie until there’s a screenplay? Charlie Kaufman is a very expensive writer!”
Despite all of this, these two men may be the only individuals in Hollywood qualified to tackle this novel. Vonnegut’s work has a long history of being demolished through big screen adaptations. The 1972 version of Slaughterhouse by Sting director George Roy Hill is one of the exceptions and was met with acclaim by Vonnegut himself. But over time the film has aged because it was never able to decide on its tone and did not fully embrace Vonnegut’s philosophical ideas. But with del Toro and Kaufman, there are may be an opportunity for some truly memorable visual filmmaking. Kaufman has proven that he can create emotional stories through metaphysical devices, and del Toro is the man to make an audience believe in fantastical realism.
Though a summer blockbuster centered around giant robots fighting godzilla-like monsters seems like the furthest thing from a Vonnegut novel, the whole culmination of a Slaughterhouse adaptation may rest in the box office performance of this week’s Pacific Rim.