Director Guillermo del Toro has finally opened up about his exit from Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to his 2013 blockbuster Pacific Rim which grossed $411 million worldwide.
It came as a major surprise back in 2016 when reports emerged that del Toro would not be returning to helm the follow-up to his film about giant mech robots battling giant Kaiju from another dimension. The film itself was a passion project for the director who grew up as a fan of the Kaiju genre but rather than direct the sequel, he would instead stay on as a producer.
While promoting his Netflix series Trollhunters, del Toro explained his departure as director from the project to Collider — citing scheduling conflicts due to the Wanda Groups acquisition of Legendary Pictures as the main issue that led to his exit:
“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—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.”
DeKnight, best known for his stint as showrunner on the first season of Daredevil on Netflix, was announced to be taking over for directing duties on the sequel in 2016. Del Toro expressed how happy he was with the choice with DeKnight and that he’s only involved when the production needs him to be:
“It was such a great choice. I mean I love [DeKnight], love what he does, I think he’s really brilliant. He’s making it his own. I’m not breathing over his shoulder saying, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ He’s doing things differently and I like that. When I produce I try to produce the way I would like to be produced. I say to everyone I produce, ‘If you need me I will be there 100% all the time. If you don’t need me, I’m not there. You show me the cut then we’ll start interacting.”
Del Toro also added that the dailies he’s seen from the recently wrapped production are fantastic and that DeKnight has made the sequel his own with a new script different from the one he turned in:
“It’s going great. I see dailies every day, I see early cuts, I see teasers. They’re doing great. It lets him have his style, lets him have his notion of the characters. I wrote a screenplay, developed two or three drafts of that screenplay—this is different than what I developed, and I’m OK. 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.”
Del Toro himself had originally developed the story for the sequel but the studio set DeKnight to direct the project with a script from John Spaihts which would later be rewritten by Derek Connolly. Ultimately the studio went with a draft written by DeKnight along with Emily Carmichael, T.S. Nowlin and Kira Snyder.
Plot details are still under wraps as an official synopsis has yet to be released, however, the sequel will follow Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) the son of Stacker Pentecost played by Idris Elba in the original film as he takes up his father’s sword, piloting a Jaeger against the resurgent Kaiju. Boyega leads the film along with Cailee Spaeney and Scott Eastwood. Returning for the sequel is Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Day.
The film also stars Adria Arjona, Jing Tian, Burn Gorman, Levi Meaden, Karan Brar, and Nick E. Tarabay.
Pacific Rim: Uprising hits theaters February 23, 2018.