Guillermo del Toro to produce animated 'Day of the Dead' -- so just how crowded is this man's plate?

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Image Credit: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage.com

Guillermo del Toro signed on this week to produce the animated film Day of the Dead, a star-crossed romance that revolves around the Mexican holiday, EW has confirmed. The independent animation studio Reel FX is behind the film, and is aiming for a 2014 release. It also enjoys the stature of being at least the 14th yet-to-be-released project currently in the works to bear del Toro’s name.

That’s right: 14. Actually, it’s 16, since del Toro co-wrote the screenplays for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again while he was attached to direct them. But even before del Toro stepped away from the helm of those films two years ago, he has been madly stacking his plate with possible directing, screenwriting, producing, and exec producing projects, both at major studios and as independent endeavors. Most of these projects remain in the script stage and/or without an official greenlight, and Hollywood’s fickle nature means we could see almost all of them in theaters at some point in the next ten years, or a great deal could end up permanently stuck in development purgatory. Del Toro fans already know that his adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness had to be shelved last year due to concerns over budget and the film’s planned R rating, even with James Cameron attached to produce.

So to keep them all straight, here is a rundown of each of the films currently cooking on del Toro’s ever expanding filmmaking stove, in roughly descending order of how close they are to actually coming to a boil, i.e. making it to theaters. (And the tortured food metaphors end here.) 

Pacific Rim — Del Toro’s first film as a director since 2008′s Hellboy II: The Golden Army — about the Earth fending off a massive alien onslaught with human-piloted giant robot soldiers — is set to finish filming later this year, and is slated for release from Warner Bros. on May 10, 2013. “It’s the most fun I’ve had on a Hollywood movie ever,” del Toro said at EW’s Visionaries Panel at Comic-Con 2011 when he was still in pre-production. “It almost should be illegal.” (Warner Bros.)

Rise of the Guardians — In late 2010, del Toro announced he was making DreamWorks Animation his “home” for animation projects. He’s received an exec producer credit on Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots already, and he’ll exec produce this film, about Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and Jack Frost (Chris Pine) joining together to fight a villain called Pitch (Jude Law). It’s set for release on Nov. 21.

Mama — Exec produced by del Toro, the horror film — starring Jessica Chastain (The Help) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) as a couple raising two girls who spent five years abandoned in the wild forest — is currently in post-production. Produced with Universal International, it does not have a release date yet.

Midnight Delivery — Based on an original idea by del Toro (who is producing) about a father who becomes a drug mule, the script (from Mama writer Neil Cross) is almost finished. Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones) is attached to direct the Universal project.

Pinocchio — The independent 3-D stop-motion animated project, based on illustrator Gris Grimly’s version of the classic tale, has been in development at the Jim Henson Co. with French company Pathé signed on as a financing partner. The project is aiming to start up by this summer if final funding can be secured. Del Toro is producing and likely co-directing with Mark Gustafson (Fantastic Mr. Fox).

Trollhunters — When del Toro made DreamWorks Animation his “home,” the studio signed on to  this film based on, yes, an idea from filmmaker. While it has no set release date, del Toro plans to exec. produce and possibly co-direct.

The Haunted Mansion — Del Toro is a self-confessed fanatic when it comes to the famed Disneyland ride — he visits the attraction every year, and called it “almost like a religion for me” when we spoke at the 2010 Comic-Con — so of all his projects that remain in the script development stage, it’s hard to imagine him letting this one, which he would produce and direct, die on the vine.

Alma — Del Toro set up this feature-length adaptation of Rodrigo Blaas’ outstandingly dark animated short at DreamWorks Animation, with Blaas attached to direct.

Beauty and the Beast — Next to Day of the Dead, this is del Toro’s latest project, which he would produce and direct with Emma Watson attached to star. Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones’s DiaryBrideshead Revisited) just signed on to write the screenplay, and the project remains in very early development at Warner Bros.

Drood — Part of an overall deal with Universal, this film, which del Toro would produce, is based on Dan Simmons’ historical thriller about the final years of Charles Dickens’ life. One reason why the film may be taking so long to land a workable script: The book clocks in at a Dickensian 784 pages.

Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — Very few filmmakers are as well versed in the world of monsters as del Toro, which is certainly why Universal signed him to re-launch two of its venerable monster properties. Del Toro was planning make-up tests of Frankenstein’s monster two years ago, but at this point the films remain in long-term development.

The Witches — This adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel is sitting in development at Warner Bros.

Read more:
Comic-Con 2011: Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro geek out with the faithful at EW’s Visionaries panel
Guillermo del Toro’s ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ is shelved… for now
Guillermo del Toro: 14 Influences That Shaped My Style

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