That's perhaps surprising, since del Toro and star Ron Perlman had remained fairly enthusiastic about the prospects for the movie for years -- and del Toro's friends at Legendary are now working with Universal Pictures, who distributed the first Hellboy, leading some to think it would be easier.
Asked about the status of the film, here's what he had to say:
Well, you know, we don't have that movie on the horizon, but the idea for it was to have Hellboy finally come to terms with the fact that his destiny, his inevitable destiny, is to become the beast of the Apocalypse, and having him and Liz face the sort of, that part of his nature, and he has to do it, in order to be able to ironically vanquish the foe that he has to face in the 3rd film. He has to become the best of the Apocalypse to be able to defend humanity, but at the same time he becomes a much darker being. It's a very interesting ending to the series, but I don't think it will happen.
I believe that each generation demands a little shift technologically on the effects. For my generation, we experienced a transition from the beauty, the handmade beauty, of Ray Harryhausen's majestic stop-motion, into the CGI animation that we are experiencing now. I believe that it's the duty of every filmmaker and storyteller to try to bring as much reality as physically and economically possible to an FX sequence. I myself am incredibly oriented to physical sets, rather than doing green screen, whenever the sets are physically possible, and I try to always find a physical FX equivalent in a solution to a filmmaking problem, regardless of it having to be a little bit more time consuming or less easy to shoot, I think it's incredibly important to do it, the last movie I just did, Crimson Peak, and in many ways The Strain the series, were executed largely with practical FX, and only in the instances in which you cannot do it with physical FX should you resort to digital FX. They should never be used as a shortcut, as a lazy shortcut. They should always be used when the ultimate solution is to convey that you need.
Asked later why he wouldn't want to make the film, del Toro clarified that, creatively, he of course wants to make it, but the economics of the industry may not support the film right now.
It is a question that I myself ask of the world many times, but we have gone through basically every studio and asked for financing, and they are not interested. I think that the first movie made its budget back, and a little bit of profit, but then it was very very big on video and DVD. The story repeated itself with the second already, it made its money back at the box office, but a small margin of profit in the release of the theatrical print, but was very very big on DVD and video. Sadly now from a business point of view all the studios know is that you don't have that safety net of the DVD and video, so they view the project as dangerous.
Creatively, I would love to make it. Creatively. But it is proven almost impossible to finance. Not from MY side, but from the studio side. If I was a multimillionaire, I would finance it myself, but I spend all my money on rubber monsters.
Of course, his other cult hit, Pacific Rim, will become an animated series while more comics and a second movie are set to be released soon.