It’s tough to work Kurt Vonnegut out for the screen. It rarely comes together well. But I’ll be damned if I’m not excited to see Guillermo del Toro try with Charlie Kaufman writing. You kidding me??
According to a story that originated at The Daily Telegraph, an adaptation of Vonnegut’s novel, “Slaughterhouse-Five” — which was originally filmed by George Roy Hill in 1972 — is part of the “Pacific Rim” director’s current deal with Universal. Not only that, but he has a writer in mind, frankly the perfect conduit for Vonnegut if there ever was one: Oscar-winning “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Being John Malkovich” scribe Charlie Kaufman.
“Charlie and I talked for about an hour-and-a-half and came up with a perfect way of doing the book,” he told the British newspaper (via The Playlist — the story is not currently available online). “I love the idea of the Trafalmadorians [the aliens of ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’] — to be ‘unstuck in time,’ where everything is happening at the same time. And that’s what I want to do. 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! I”ll work it out.”
Further to that studio mandate, Jeffrey Wells says he has a little added info from a source. Del Toro “is pushing Universal to belly up and pay Kaufman to bang the script out, but Uni won”t pay [Kaufman]”s fee unless [del Toro] assures that ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ will be shot within 12 months.” The problem is del Toro’s next two projects are “Crimson Peak” and and FX pilot for “The Strain” and they’re set to be filmed back-to-back.
Now, part of me wishes this news didn’t bubble up, because it almost sounds like a project that could have been. That said, I love, love, LOVE the idea of these two guys working together, and not only that, but the idea of del Toro scaling back after the scope of “Pacific Rim” is positively thrilling to me and I think it would be a great way to come out of that world. I can see him geeking it up with Kaufman coming up with ideas much like he did with “Pacific Rim” screenwriter Travis Beacham, and if it’s at all possible to crank this film out quickly and efficiently, it has the potential to be one of those amazing artistic partnerships.
Here’s hoping it happens. Maybe del Toro is scooting the news out there this week, in advance of “Pacific Rim,” to get the press chewing on it in public and help force Universal’s hand. But I’d hate to see this one not work out now that I know about it.
“Pacific Rim” is due out in theaters on Friday.