Reshoots, re-edits, rewrites and re-scoring — The Wolfman has been through it all. But have all these re-snips neutered Benicio Del Toro's furry monster picture? We re-trace all of the second-guessing that may have doomed this film.
The first sign of problems for the big wolf revival was over two years ago, when Universal pushed back the release date from November 12, 2008 to the spring of 2009. Not a big deal, since many pictures move their release dates from time to time, but sadly for the Wolfman, they would change his release date many more times. Moving from Nov. 12, 2008, to April 3, 2009, to Nov 6, 2009, and finally February 12, 2010. Which many call a veritable No Man's Land for movies.
After the first initial push back on the release date, original directer Mark Romanek, famed director of creepy stalker monkey-man Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, left the picture over monster creative differences, or something. This was just weeks before the film was supposed to start shooting, with cast members Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt. How bad were things for Romanek if he was willing to pass up working with both Del Toro and Hopkins? His loss, since the project only got geekier when Hugo Weaving signed on for the role of werewolf detective in February.
Something must not have jelled between the studio's vision for the werewolf picture and Romanek's rumored dark take on the classic hairy beast. But come on, was he really that surprised? This is the same studio that used its catalog of classic monsters to put out Van Helsing and The Mummy.
But Universal would eventually find a director who was more willing to play ball inside their classic monster wheelhouse: Joe Johnston. Director of Jurassic Park 3. You remember, the one where we learned how to communicate with raptors through bone whistles, and searched through poop for cell phones. But I'm digressing. It seemed like both Universal and Joe Johnston would actually find Hugh Jackman's hat from Van Helsing humorous and sexy, so why not work together on Wolfman? The deal was done and production started up again. UPDATE: In all fairness he did direct Rocketeer and October Sky, which we loved. So there could be a lot of thoughtful softness added to the relationship between Benicio and Emily Blunt, which he excels at executing.
After a very successful premiere of the trailer at the 2008 Comic Con, and the release of the new "Benicio in full wolf make-up" pictures, everyone thought that this might actually work. But the troubles for wolf friend weren't over yet.
In August of 2008, The Wolfman brought on Danny Elfman to score the film. Elfman's tunes are like the work of Tim Burton: one part creepy, one part whimsy. So we were hesitant to see what he would dream up that would keep The Wolfman from becoming a self-parody. Apparently Universal thought the same and replaced him with Paul Haslinger. But later it was revealed that this was more of a "scheduling conflict" than a personal one, which is PR speak for "everything was going to hell." This was sad news as we were much more curious to see what Elfman would dream up over anyone else, but it didn't end up mattering after all. In a stunning display of just how bipolar this film is, we're now hearing that Elfman's score will be back in the final cut. Will it be good? Who knows! Can't be as bad as the last scrapped score, we guess.
Next they dressed him up as Han Solo, but that didn't go over too well either.
But the biggest and strangest tweak to the Wolfman feature, which had now been revealed to be an R-rated flick, was the decision to get the Benicio off his two legs and onto all fours. In December of 08, The Wolfman went back into the studio for 6 entire months of reshoots. Which is like remaking an entire movie. But the whole idea behind this expensive and no doubt exhausting reshoot for the cast and crew was because Benecio didn't look scary enough as the two-leg walking Wolfman. They wanted him on all fours, bounding — a la Sabretooth in the last Wolverine picture...
But isn't that the point of the Wolfman versus the Werewolf? A half beast, half man creature. This can only mean that the Wolfman's taken a turn towards CG, like just about every other werewolf on the big screen today.
And finally, the studio scrapped the film's original editor and brought in two of the industry's greats, Mark Goldblatt and Walter Mirch, to try and craft a satisfying picture out of all the chaos.
So in conclusion Wolfman went through two directors, two scores, four release dates, six months of reshoots and from two legs to four. Are we hopeful? Not very. Do we still love the classic Wolfman and the brilliant decision to cast Benicio Del Toro in this role, yes. We desperately want Wolfie to be good, but we're just not sure how it will. But we'd love to be proved wrong.