Guillermo Del Toro will direct new films based on Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Slaughterhouse Five, it has been confirmed.

Universal Studios has set plans in motion for the Mexican director to shoot four films, taking their relationship through to 2017.

Work on the quartet of projects - the fourth being Drood, an adaptation of an as-yet-unpublished novel by Dan Simmons - will not begin until the Pan's Labyrinth director has completed work on The Hobbit films, to which he has committed the next five years.

Del Toro has already begun writing two films based on the JRR Tolkien classic with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

"No one expected The Hobbit to come about; it was the most marvellous monkey wrench tossed into my life," del Toro told Variety.

"I consider [the new deals] the renewal of my marital vows with Universal."

Universal production president Donna Langley said the four-picture deal was a demonstration of the studios' "long-term commitment" to del Toro.

"Guillermo is in the most prolific time of his life," she explained.

"Joe Johnston on [upcoming horror] 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."

Drood, a Little, Brown novel set to be released in February sees Simmons imagining that surviving a train crash fundamentally altered Charles Dickens' personality and potentially turned him to murder before he wrote his final book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

According to Langley, the "fantasy and gothic horror" format of Simmons' tome is a perfect fit for del Toro and is likely to be his first project after completing The Hobbit.

The director that he plans to stick closely to Robert Louis Stevenson's source material for the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde film while Frankenstein is somewhat of a passion project.

"To me, [it] represents the essential human question: 'Why did my creator throw me here, unprotected, unguided, unaided and lost?'" he said.

"With that one, they will have to pry it from my cold dead hands to prevent me from directing it."

04/09/2008 09:35:05