In retrospect, how did any of us not see this coming?  Studio preps big-budget monster movie with intellectual, perfectionist director; studio indulges director via lengthy pre-production, during which he designs the look of the film down to every last, exacting detail; director nears principal photography, realizes the script still needs work, also realizes the writers’ strike excludes the possibility of said work getting done before shooting; studio, already leery of director’s ability to deliver a sufficiently commercial movie, insists that the script is the script; director bolts; studio panics; studio rifles through list of replacement directors; studio, in no mood to hemorrhage more money on film already destined to be flawed, strikes deal with first director who says, “Fuck the glaringly evident script flaws, I’m Brett Ratner! Wait’ll I tell Bob Evans!”

That’s what Harry Knowles is reporting at Ain’t It Cool News, and that’s what I’ve just confirmed through a number of sources (not that I ever doubted Harry at all).  Universal and Ratner are in negotiations as I type, and a deal should be hammered out by close of business tomorrow, if not sooner.  And unless this all unexpectedly falls apart, here endeth my interest in The Wolf Man ’09.

I’ve been trying to get confirmation on whether Benicio Del Toro has a chance in hell of getting out of this movie; though no one would 100-percent aver that he’s stuck, common sense says Universal wouldn’t be recklessly scrambling for a replacement director if their star had director approval.  Besides, most of Rick Baker’s werewolf effects are tailored specifically for Del Toro; less than a month away from shooting, it’d be impossible to adequately reconfigure these elements for another actor.

But Universal doesn’t care about adequate outside of the eventual trailer, which will sell Romanek’s vision as coarsened by Ratner.  At this point, the studio just wants the movie to get made (by what Devin correctly surmised would be a “traffic cop”).  Obviously, it’s their investment, and their right to do with it as they please.  But when Ratner starts boasting how The Wolf Man was always his favorite classic monster, and how he’s thrilled beyond belief to be working with the great Rick Baker on a werewolf movie… I will find that motherfucker, and I will drag his ass right into the moors.

(Wolf Greeting artwork courtesy of CHUD’s brilliant Litmus Configuration.)