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Del Toro Adds Projects, Booked Through 2017

Guillermo del Toro has plans for the next decade, including remakes of FRANKENSTEIN, THE HOBBIT two-picture project and an adaptation of DROOD, per VARIETY.

Universal has a three-year first look deal with del Toro they signed a year ago, and have committed to him with four directing projects, including remakes of FRANKENSTEIN, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE and SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE. Project four will be an adaptation of Dan Simmons' novel DROOD that is set for publication by Little, Brown in February.

First up, though, is del Toro's project with New Line and MGM: THE HOBBIT, which will take five years to complete. He's begun writing the script with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, collaborating through video conferencing and making trips to New Zealand every three weeks.

"No one expected THE HOBBIT to come about; it was the most marvelous monkey wrench tossed into my life," del Toro said. "I consider [the new deals] the renewal of my marital vows with Universal."

Plans could change in five years, but Universal execs think DROOD could be del Toro's next project after THE HOBBIT is complete. If both sides get their way, del Toro will belong to Universal after wrapping THE HOBBIT.

Universal still has their eye on del Toro's passion project, an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. Del Toro will produce with Mark Johnson, but not direct, a film version of David Moody's apocalyptic novel HATER. He'll also produce but not direct CRIMSON PEAK, a gothic romance spec script he wrote with his MIMIC collaborator Matthew Robbins.

While working away at THE HOBBIT, del Toro will also outline other projects and hire writers, with supervision by his manager Gary Ungar at del Toro Productions. Ungar will be exec producer on the films and will oversee with development director Russell Ackerman and Universal exec Scott Bernstein.

THE HOBBIT only delays Universal's plans with del Toro, not canceling them. " "We came out the other side of some tough conversations with a stronger bond and sense of long-term commitment," said Universal production president Donna Langley. "Guillermo is in the most prolific time of his life. Joe Johnston on THE WOLF MAN showed us the importance of entrusting the Universal franchise monsters to experienced filmmakers with voices. That was a big impetus for our decision to go with Guillermo to put his creative stamp on these properties."

Universal could also decide to do a third HELLBOY. HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY was short of blockbuster status domestically, but has done well overseas.

"I think they'll decide when the last euro hits the piggybank," del Toro said. "We laid the groundwork to have a magnificent third act. I'd like to return to an action franchise with 60-year-old actor Ron Perlman, because he'll be scratching at that age when I get to it."

Langley said Universal is interested, and may work to add a TV series and online element before making a series-finale third movie.

In Simmons' DROOD, the author follows what might have happened after author Charles Dickons survived a horrible train accident, plunging him into the London depravity, where he may have turned to murder before he wrote his final novel THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. "It's the fantasy and gothic horror world Guillermo finds comfortable," Langley said. "It feels like a great fit for where [we expect] Guillermo will have evolved as a filmmaker five years from now."

Del Toro has had a longtime fascination with Frankenstein, even turning his home into a memorabilia shrine to the Boris Karloff monster from the Universal 1931 film.

"To me, Frankenstein represents the essential human question: Why did my creator throw me here, unprotected, unguided, unaided and lost?" del Toro said. "With that one, they will have to pry it from my cold dead hands to prevent me from directing it."

On final projects DR. JEKYLL and SLAUGHTERHOUSE, del Toro plans to stick to the source material on the former, and provide a more literal interpretation of the latter.

The 1972 original SLAUGHTERHOUSE film swayed further away from author Kurt Vonnegut's novel about a prisoner from a German World War II POW camp how travels through time and space. "There are ways that Vonnegut plays with and juxtaposes time that was perhaps too edgy to be tackled on film at that time.

On DR. JEKYLL, del Toro wants to explore the addictive high the repressed Dr. Jekyll experienced as his murderous alter ego Mr. Hyde.