Universal — which has a three-year first-look deal with the helmer inked in June ’07 — and del Toro are making a long-term commitment by setting up four directing projects, including remakes of "Frankenstein," "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Slaughterhouse-Five."
The fourth project is an adaptation of "Drood," a Dan Simmons novel acquired by U that will be published in February by Little, Brown.
Of course, del Toro’s first priority is New Line and MGM’s "The Hobbit," to which he has committed the next five years. He has begun writing "Hobbit" with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, collaborating via video conferencing and trips to New Zealand every three weeks.
While it’s difficult, if not impossible, to plan projects five years into the future, at this point U execs think "Drood" is the most likely to be del Toro’s first post-"Hobbit" directing vehicle.
If both sides have their way, the helmer will belong to Universal after "The Hobbit" wraps.
In addition to the four pics, the studio still has its sights set on del Toro’s pet project, an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s "At the Mountains of Madness."
As if that is not enough to keep him busy, U also has on the horizon an adaptation of David Moody’s apocalyptic novel "Hater" that del Toro will produce with Mark Johnson but not direct, and "Crimson Peak," a gothic romance spec script by del Toro and his "Mimic" collaborator Matthew Robbins, which del Toro will produce but not direct.
While he busies himself with "Hobbit," del Toro will outline the other projects and hire writers. The pics will be supervised at del Toro Prods. by his manager, Gary Ungar, who’ll be exec producer of the films and will oversee the slate with development director Russell Ackerman and U exec Scott Bernstein.