Aint It Cool News is reporting that Joe Johnston was selected by Universal to direct their re-make/re-launch/re-whatever of THE WOLF MAN, one of their most revered horror properties from their golden age. The curious exit of Mark Romanek (ONE HOUR PHOTO) just weeks before filming left a vacuum that had everyone from fanboy wetdreams John Landis and Joe Dante, to Brits like Martin Campbell (CASINO ROYALE) and Neil Marshall (THE DESCENT), to shits like Brett Ratner (RUSH HOUR, X3). From this group, Joe Johnson seemed like a real longshot; his track record features a lot of EFX heavy blockbusters like JUMANJI, HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS, and JURASSIC PARK 3 that make him the studio-friendly choice. No auteur tantrums, no doing 50 takes because a shot isn’t perfect, just a hired gun who’ll keep the train on the tracks. But Johnson cut his teeth working for Lucas in the early ’80s as an art director on EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and has thus far directed two wonderful (and totally different) films, THE ROCKETEER and OCTOBER SKY. That’s two wonderful films more than Brett Ratner has made; Ratner seemed to be the favorite after he performed the same ‘emergency fill-in’ service for Fox when Bryan Singer left X3.
Lon Chaney and Evelyn Ankers in THE WOLF MAN (1941).
Remember, filming is set to commence in weeks – not months. The script (penned by SE7EN’s Andrew Kevin Walker), actors (Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot and Anthony Hopkins as Talbot Sr.), EFX make-up (by Rick Baker!), locations, costume and design work are all already locked, so whomever Universal hires isn’t going to have too much wiggle room to put their own stamp on the proceedings.