WTF Moment of the Year (so far): Universal to Reboot “The Wolfman” Franchise… Again… Direct to DVD

A. Quinton — Mar. 10th 2011

When I first saw this in my Google Alerts feed by way of PerezHilton.com, I thought it was either a joke or a two-year-old article that had fallen through a time warp. The ever-reliable Bloody Disgusting has the exclusive, though, so I’m inclined to believe it: Universal is searching for writers to help reboot the “Wolfman” franchise just 13 months after the release of the previous reboot, and this time they’re skipping the theaters and going directly to DVD. “The only details I have,” writes DB’s MrDisgusting, “is that it’s supposed to start a fresh direct-to-disc franchise like what they’re doing with Death Race, although their direction is still unconfirmed.”

This sounds like a very recent development, possibly triggered by the 2010 film‘s recent Academy Award win for Best Makeup. The direct-to-DVD approach makes me doubt they’ll be willing to pay for the continued makeup services of Rick Baker or Dave Elsey, and let’s face it– other than Hugo Weaving’s performance, the makeup effects were the only reason to go see it in the first place. But wait! I can think of two reasons why this could be a Really Good Thing®:

  1. Direct-to-DVD releases don’t need to have Hollywood box office appeal, so they can take bigger risks. Big-budget films with wide theatrical releases need to clean up at the box office in order to pay for themselves, so they have to be more generically appealing. By releasing directly to private viewers, Universal can make this Wolfman re-imagining as dark, gory, twisted and otherwise stylistically radical as the material warrants without having to worry about what mainstream reviewers, audiences or Cate Blanchett think.
  2. A smaller budget means the film needs to earn Universal less money in order to be considered a “success”. A successful film tends to spawn sequels, no matter how niche the market is. If Universal plays this right (Universal executives: see point 1 and then trust your director, writer and other staff), the results could appeal to enough horror/werewolf fans that additional films pay for themselves. Thanks to the Internet, small but devoted audiences can turn a lovingly-produced oddity into a cult hit pretty easily.

This is all speculation stacked on top of a rumour, but in the face of vapid, expensively-polished duds like “Red Riding Hood”, a down-and-dirty hard-R-rated Wolfman reboot on DVD sounds pretty damn good.

  • On one hand, the idea of any studio remaking a movie a year after they already remade that movie kind of bothers me on a principle level.

    On the other hand, I’m a werewolf geek so I’m totally stoked about this news. There’s a chance us werewolf fans might even be happier with the direct to DVD version. There’s the possibility that this time they will go with the original ending rather than the over-the-top cheesefest ending that Wolf Man had. Or maybe they will go with a different ending, but it will still be better. (How could it not be?)

    Any news of Universal reviving their classic monsters is just exciting, any way you slice it!

  • The thing that irks me about this is the first film was already primsed for a sequel — all they had to do was follow Hugo Weaving’s character as he struggled to cope with his newly contracted lycanthropy. Or maybe the story could have picked up a few years later when he’s got a handle on it and even uses it in the course of his investigations. Now there’s a Wolf Man franchise I would happily follow.

  • Michael

    Aside from the silly ending, which I felt severely detracted from what had been a promising father/son conflict, I absolutely loved everything about the Wolfman remake, so I’m not sure how I feel about this news. I’m definitely open to the idea that it could be even better, but considering the usual quality of direct-to-video releases, I’m not very hopeful.

  • Viergacht

    I have to say, I’m pretty enthused about this. The more werewolfery, the better.

  • ArcLight

    Agreed with Viergacht, and noted today an article which says it will indeed be a sequel to the movie. Probably not with Weaving unfortunately, but possibly following his character after all.

  • zockereinstein

    I’d rather prefer a sequel, but with the alternative ending as reference. Emily Blunt is a very good actress, and really liked her performance, not obscured by Hopkins or Del Toro at all.

  • Roukas

    This could be very interesting. When a large Hollywood studio tries to make a story mainstream, they usually end up making it dumbed down enough for everyone to understand and enjoy on a casual level. That here-today-gone-tomorrow method is a recipe for endless pop, and while it can be successful, it’s also a good reminder for us to revisit what we mean by success. In the hands of a few well-trained visionaries and good writers, a direct to DVD Wolfman sequel *could* be great. Any new info on developments here?

    And wow, Cate Blanchett, you didn’t have to say anything. I knew where you were coming from the moment I saw your 50’s homemaker IRL Barbie dress.