EXCLUSIVE: Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Haunted Mansion’ Involves The Hatbox Ghost, Multiple Mansions

If you think that Guillermo Del Toro’s decision to direct “The Haunted Mansion” is an unexpected and curious one, well, think again. Speaking with MTV News, the “Pan’s Labyrinth” filmmaker — formerly attached to “The Hobbit,” now making his Disney with a reboot of “The Haunted Mansion” — is a longtime fanatic and collector of memorabilia from the classic Disney ride.

“For some people, it’s just a ride. For others like me, it’s a way of life,” Del Toro told MTV in an exclusive interview at Comic-Con. “We’re really serious fanatics. I’m a big, big collector of it. I’ve been collecting not only memorabilia, but also original artifacts from the mansion for the last ten years.”

With a massive collection including original Marc Davis art, statues, wallpaper and a secret collector’s room accessible only by way of a secret bookshelf, Del Toro is clearly a big fan of “The Haunted Mansion” — so much so that he’s drawing on his intimate knowledge of the theme park ride’s history for the film’s story.

“The storyline for ’The Haunted Mansion’ and the ride is quite open,” he explained. “We are taking sort of the core mythology that you can tap into and saying that there are many mansions around the world and they’re all part of a sort of web. The spider sitting at the center of the web is what the fans of ’The Haunted Mansion’ would know by the nickname the Hatbox Ghost, which is a beautiful creature that was created but there’s a legend that it was discarded on the first day of the ride’s operation because it was too scary. I like that legend, but the reality is that the imagineers could not make the illusion work, so they took it out. It’s more or less where the bride is in the attic on the way out of the mansion, but it’s such a great character that there is literally a cult for the Hatbox Ghost amongst hardcore ’Haunted Mansion’ fanatics, and I’m one of them.”

Beyond the inclusion of the Hatbox Ghost, Del Toro said his “Haunted Mansion” movie would likely surprise some fans who are skeptical of his decision to helm the Disney film.

“The movie I see in my head of ’Haunted Mansion’ is not what I believe anyone is imagining it would be,” he said. “It’s not just a regular world with a haunted mansion plopped in the middle. I’m really thinking of a movie with a heightened reality, which is super designed, incredibly innovative, narratively and visually. When people think of ’The Haunted Mansion,’ they think they know [what it’s about]. But I really want to push a lot of stuff that they have not seen ever.”

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