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®:
- 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.
- 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.