Unlike many directors who haven't the slightest what their next project is, Guillermo del Toro is solidly booked through 2017.
According to Variety, Universal has a three-year first-look deal with the director that was inked in June 2007 - with at least 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 Universal 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 The 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 Universal execs think Drood is the most likely to be del Toro's first post-Hobbit directing vehicle.
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.
Universal production executive Donna Langley said she is intrigued by Drood, in which Simmons supposes that survival from a catastrophic train crash changed author Charles Dickens, plunging him into the depths of London depravity and possibly turning him 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."
Frankenstein represents a longtime fascination for del Toro, who has made his home a memorabilia shrine to the Karloff monster from the 1931 U 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 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, del Toro wants to stick more closely to Robert Louis Stevenson's prose and explore the addictive high the repressed Jekyll experienced as his murderous alter ego.
Del Toro plans to provide a more literal interpretation of Slaughterhouse-Five than in the 1972 film adaptation, hewing closely to the Vonnegut novel about a prisoner in a German WWII POW camp who travels through time and space.
Meanwhile, del Toro is awaiting word on whether U will embrace a follow-up to Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The big-budget film opened in the heat of summer and fell short of blockbuster status in the U.S. but has performed 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."