Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO and Guillermo del Toro are teaming on Monster, developing a potential series culled from a series of 18 volumes of Japanese Manga by author Naoki Urasawa published by Shogakukan Inc. Del Toro will co-write the story with Steven Thompson, best known for his work on Dr. Who and Sherlock. Thompson will write the pilot, which del Toro intends to direct. The thriller is about the worldwide search by a young doctor for the most evil sociopath that has ever lived. He is a 12-year-old boy, and the doctor’s decision to save his life has unwittingly unleashed a Pandora’s Box that leaves the doc battling to stop a plot of mass genocide. This is certainly a departure for HBO, entering the Manga game, but for del Toro and Thompson, it allows them an incredible sandbox to play in. Del Toro will be executive producer and Thompson co-executive producer, with Angry Films’ partners Don Murphy and Susan Montford executive producing with Exile’s Gary Ungar. Shogakukan will be consulting producer.

This project was originally set at New Line, but proved too sprawling to confined to a feature film. It took del Toro a long time to woo creator Urasawa into being comfortable with Hollywood again, which sounds a lot like the process that D.B. Weiss and David Benioff went through with George R.R. Martin before they could get Game Of Thrones off the ground at HBO.

Speaking of that, Monster reunites del Toro with Murphy and Montford, his accomplices in the attempt to turn the H.P. Lovecraft novella At The Mountains Of Madness into a feature film. That ended with Universal getting very close to production — with del Toro directing and Tom Cruise ready to star — only to call a halt because del Toro would not budge on the possibility that the film might come in with an R rating. Well, I believe the filmmaker has again raised the issue with Universal, after that studio just had a global hit with Cruise in the sci-fi film Oblivion. Now, the R rating might again be a sticking point, but this becomes even more tantalizing if del Toro’s upcoming film Pacific Rim is as big as people suspect it will be this summer for Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. Those parties are said to be interested if Universal brass is still uncomfortable making a $150 million R-rated 3D movie. Del Toro wouldn’t be able to make it until after he directs his ghost story Crimson Peak, but it seems inevitable. It would be nice to see such a creative filmmaker get to make his passion project. Del Toro is repped by WME and Exile.

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