They could’ve hired an auteur. They could’ve hired Landis. Instead, they hired Johnston. At least they didn’t hire Ratner.
The great Wolf Man sweepstakes was heavily rigged in favor of a) a studio friendly director, and b) someone who commanded a reasonable salary. This is why I thought Frank Darabont would ultimately land The Wolf Man: he hasn’t had a commercial success since The Green Mile, and he’s learned how to shoot on the fly (i.e. “cheap”) since helming a couple of episodes of The Shield.
But Joe Johnston – who’s both friendly with Universal and the studio’s most famous occupant (Spielberg) – landed the gig, and this could be a blessing. On one hand, you want a point-and-shoot guy to capture what Mark Romanek deserted; on the other, you don’t want a dipshit who’ll coarsen the material with a lack of affection for the classic monster material. I’m sure Ratner would boast a certain warmth for the George Waggoner/Joseph Valentine/Curt Siodmak original, but that counterfeit affection would only result in a by-the-numbers creature feature. Johnston may not be a master filmmaker, but he is one of us. He wants to see a great Wolf Man movie. And he’ll approach the material respectfully, while doing what he can to mend the script’s myriad flaws.
The best case scenario would be to have the WGA strike get settled next week, which would free up Andrew Kevin Walker to perform triage on his screenplay. I only bring this up because it’s a distinct possibility (if you choose to put any stock in the rumors knocking about town). But if the current script gets filmed, at least it’ll get shot by someone who grew up wanting to make monster movies (rather than someone who grew up wanting to preside over a discotheque in their basement).
So we didn’t get a Landis/Baker reunion. So what? If that’s the film you want to see, write it!