One of the conspicuous absences at Comic-Con International this year was “The Wolf Man,” the Universal monster film that hits theaters on Nov. 6…or does it? The film starring Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and Anthony Hopkins just got postponed to Feb. 12, 2010.
Some reports suggest that Universal wants a bit of space between its supernatural thriller and “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” which opens on Nov. 20 with its own brand of snarling werewolves. That sounds like fuzzy logic to me: If the R-rated “Wolf Man” had two weeks on its own at theaters to win over moviegoers, why worry about a vampire film that is aimed at much younger film fans?
This a film that is going to have to claw its way to credibility from its first day of release. The director is Joe Johnston (“Jurassic Park III,” “Jumanji“) but he came into the project after celebrated music-video auteur Mark Romanek walked away, saying the planned $100-million budget wasn’t big enough to pull off his vision. Maybe Romanek should have stuck around; because of reshoots earlier this year the final budget for the Johnston version will be north of $112 million, according to Claudia Eller over at Company Town, our sister blog. Those reshoots were done, reportedly, because filmmakers wanted scenes with a fiercer, four-legged version of the creature.
Who outside of the project is watching all this with a bit of apprehension? Well, I’m guessing that Kevin Feige at Marvel Studios isn’t exactly baying at the moon while watching the balky performance of the film. Fiege and his team have tapped Johnston to direct the period-piece heroics of “First Avenger: Captain America,” which looked like a great choice considering the vintage verve that the filmmaker brought to ”The Rocketeer” back in 1991. It may still be a great selection, of course, but right now Johnston’s “The Wolf Man” isn’t looking like a rabid success.
– Geoff Boucher
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“The Wolf Man” images courtesy of Universal.