From an interview from the WSJ's Speakeasy with Guillermo Del Toro.
Without spoiling anything, what can fans expect from “Pacific Rim 2″?
We are three years away, so to spoil anything would be fantastically silly of me. What I can tell you: [screenwriter Zak Penn] and I really went in, we started with [screenwriter Travis Beacham] about a year and a half ago, kicking ideas back and forth. And, admittedly, I said to Zak, let’s keep kicking ideas till we find one that really, really turns the first movie on its ear, so to speak. (…) It was hard to create a world that did not come from a comic book, that had its own mythology, so we had to sacrifice many aspects to be able to cram everything in the first movie. Namely, for example “the Drift” (editor’s note: the neural link between pilots of the giant robots, or jaegers), which was an interesting concept. [Then there was] this portal that ripped a hole into the fabric of our universe, what were the tools they were using? And we came up with a really, really interesting idea. I don’t want to spoil it, but I think at the end of the second movie, people will find out that the two movies stand on their own. They’re very different from each other, although hopefully bringing the same joyful giant spectacle. But the tenor of the two movies will be quite different.
What can you tell me about the animated “Pacific Rim” series? Do you know which network will carry it?
We are talking about all the possibilities in terms of networks. We’re formulating ideas that are, again, interesting and not the usual route, but the series tackles the stories that happened to pilots working in the Shatterdome (editor’s note: a building where jaegers are built and maintained and pilots train), but also cadets learning how to become pilots. All of this happens prior to the first movie, and it gives you a little more depth into the background of certain characters that will appear in the second movie. So it’s really expanding the material. I was incredibly happy with the comic book series that came about from a graphic novel called “Tales From Year Zero,” and we are continuing the tales for the next three years. So by the time the second movie comes out, you will have probably one year of the animation airing, and you will have three years of the comic book series ongoing, so we are trying for all these things to be canon, to be in the same universe, to not wing anything, so that if anyone … a lot of kids, for example, have discovered “Pacific Rim” through the toys. They come in through the toys, and then they watch the movie, and then they learn this, they learn that through the movie or the comic book series, so we’re trying to make it canon so we can expand the universe. And by the time we come into the second movie, you have a good feel for the world, and we can dedicate ourselves to character and ideas and spectacle.
What did you feel about Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla”? Do you feel like you have to top it?
Well, it’s a very different tone. What is great about Gareth is that he went for a really, an almost-Spielberg shock-and-awe tone that is very different from “Pacific Rim.” The thing is, when you deal with a world that has a single anomaly, meaning you have basically one monster or two battling each other, then you can take a darker tone and be metaphorical. Or when you have a single robot — namely, for example, Brad Bird’s “The Iron Giant” — you can, once again, be more reflective and build deeper into a theme than when you have to … this is a world where giant robots are possible, giant monsters are possible. So the tone has to be … I decided that it had to be more like an adventure movie. I used two analogies that were pretty invisible in the first movie: one was a sports movie, and the other was a western. I tried to bring characterization on the move. My main two characters, both [Charlie Hunnam] and [Rinko Kikuchi], play characters that have less lines than any other characters in the movie almost. They talk very little. You know them by the way they behave, the way they do and do not. In “Godzilla,” what was great is that you had this Spielbergian sense of scope and adventure, and a much darker tone. So, they don’t intersect tonally at all.
Do you plan on expanding the cast and adding new characters in “Pacific Rim 2″?
I’m hoping to bring the same idea I had in the first movie, that was to make it multicultural and humanistic as much as possible, to make characters from many nationalities or gender, to make them equal in the scope of the adventure, in the day-to-day of the adventure. So, we’re bringing a few characters that are new and hopefully doing good work managing those that survived the first movie. (laughs)
When do you expect production to start on “Pacific Rim 2″?
I start designing in six weeks. It takes me nine months to design a movie like that. People see the movie, and they have to see that we designed everything in the movie, from ID cards or patches, pamphlets, posters, signs, sets. I start with a core team for about six months designing the jaegers and the kaiju, you know, so we know how many kaiju, how many jaegers. We are creating some new jaegers and a lot of new kaiju. We start [designing the production] in August.
Read the full interview here.