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Whatever your impressions of would-be bank robber and generally overrated fantasy maven Guillermo del Toro, his new long-term pact with Universal can't be the kind of thing that rouses too much confidence in his growth and versatility — even among fans. After his five-year commitment to The Hobbit, the filmmaker will reportedly return back to his Hellboy backers for four films in as many years. And if/when we ever write our book on the End of Ideas epidemic sweeping Hollywood, his unique stretch from this year's sequel Hellboy II to one of three remake possibilities in 2017 may be worth an entire chapter's worth of consideration:

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. ... 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."

Well, then. His involvement with Slaughterhouse-Five is slightly less intimate, with the director determined to explore the ways author Kurt Vonnegut "plays with and juxtaposes time" in ways that he says George Roy Hill's 1972 adaptation didn't. There are a few of his own screenplays in there as well — none of which del Toro is attached to direct, alas, which suggests that even he and his Uni bedfellows are anticipating the current trend in paranoiac, risk-averse rehash (See Exhibit A) to worsen before it improves. Fine with us! Whatever might keep The Hobbit to one movie is a cutback we can most certainly live with.