When news came recently that Pacific Rim 2 was back on, it was bittersweet at best, like learning there would be an Inhumans TV show only to discover the showrunner was that guy who oversaw the last couple seasons of Dexter. (You know—the one whose work on Iron Fist everybody loves so much.) Yes, the movie would happen, but the creator of this kaiju-vs.-robots universe, Guillermo Del Toro, would have to step out of the director’s chair, handing it over to Daredevil and Joss Whedon alumnus Steven S. DeKnight, as well as tossing out Del Toro’s script and going with a new one from Doctor Strange and Prometheus screenwriter Jon Spaihts. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world—at least this time, Del Toro’s franchise is actually carrying on, as opposed to other recent instances—but is still unfortunate for an artist who had such a clearly articulated vision of this world.
Nevertheless, he persisted, and is instead producing the new film, which will have the added simplicity of the actors not having to try and call Idris Elba by the name “Stacker Pentecost” without giggling. In a new interview with Collider, the Crimson Peak helmer opened up about the reasons for his departure from the director’s chair, and, not surprisingly, the answer has everything to do with corporate reshuffling and timing.
The timing started to suck. I had this little movie that I wanted to do—The Shape of Water—very, very much. At one point it was Justice League Dark or Pacific Rim, I said, “Let’s go to Pacific Rim.” The reality is they said, “We’re gonna need to postpone,” because they were changing hands—[Pacific Rim studio] Legendary was going to be sold to China, to a Chinese company [called the Wanda Group]. They said, “We’ve gotta wait nine months,” and I said, “I’m not waiting nine months, I’m shooting a movie,” and I went and shot [The Shape of Water] and we chose Steven DeKnight.
Del Toro goes on to praise DeKnight’s plan for the film, saying the TV writer and showrunner is “really brilliant” and “making it his own,” which is to be expected. Much better is the very Del Toro-esque explanation of why it’s also fine that DeKnight went with a completely different script than the one the first film’s director, not to mention creator of this whole universe, cooked up: “A producer is in the corner, the director is in the ring. The producer’s not getting the punches, the director is, so shut up, wait in the corner, refresh the towel and wait for the director to come to you.” It’s a metaphor that almost works as well for people inside giant mechas fighting aliens as for boxing. Pacific Rim: Uprising comes out February 23, 2018, and in the meantime, John Boyega (star of the sequel) recently tweeted out the first image from set, where he plays the son of Idris Elba’s character in the original.