Guillermo Del Toro is notorious for being hard to pin down about his projects. He usually has a good dozen or so titles attached to his name that are in talks or early development, and when asked what he’d like to work on he’ll rattle off another list of pet projects he’s pursuing on his own time. Meanwhile, fans are clamoring for Hellboy 3 and Pacific Rim 2, the latter of which was finally cleared for production in February.
So it’s understandable if a little animated series del Toro is making for Netflix is getting overlooked, but a first-look image from the Trollhunters shows that he’s translating his classically beautiful style to the small screen.
Trollhunters is a DreamWorks production in conjunction with Netflix Original Series. It’s based on a young adult book del Toro wrote in 2008 about the residents of a town called Arcadia, who discover a magical world beneath their town. If you didn’t know he was an author (I didn’t) del Toro also wrote a novel series that The Strain is based on.
DreamWorks press release calls the series “[V]ast and vibrant worlds with complex human and troll characters that create a cinematic television experience. A global must-see viewing event for the entire family, DreamWorks TROLLHUNTERS will bring viewers of all ages around the world into the rich and creative mind of Guillermo del Toro.”
Let’s get past the obvious: the troll is a little bit of a mashup of Monsters Inc.’s Sully and How to Train Your Dragon’s Toothless. And the human has a little of an Iron Man thing going on with that arm armor and the glowing heart. But putting preconceptions aside, the animation looks beautifully rendered and the story is surely as vibrant as del Toro’s other creations. And according to this early art troll hunting won’t be an entirely one-sided affair; at least one troll and human are working together.
Here’s a bit more detail on the close-ups:
According to Slashfilm the series was first set up in 2010 as a film at a small Disney subsidiary. When the company folded del Toro’s frequent director of photography pushed him to take the story to DreamWorks. Back then del Toro said this about the project, in it’s film incarnation:
“I wanted very much to develop a story that could be written for kids but dealt with a genre that was scary. It essentially combines fairy tales with modern times and is about how difficult it is to be kid. Normally, kids are idealized in animated films. But the growing pains, married with the notion that there is a world right next to us that is completely plagued by creatures of ancient lore, it’s thematically fitting with the rest of my stuff.”
No doubt del Toro will find a way to do that within the framework of television especially with the freedom offered by the Netflix format.
Alongside Trollhunters del Toro is also developing a film based on the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. He’s supposedly in talks to develop a remake of Fantastic Voyage with James Cameron, though that rumor has come and gone a few times already. Of course we now know that Pacific Rim 2 is a definite go, and at some point he’s contractually committed to direct a Frankenstein film for Universal.
I start development on a film based on a favorite book of youth: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! pic.twitter.com/yu31FkCz4K
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) January 14, 2016