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Another delay for 'Wolf Man'

July 30, 2009|Claudia Eller and Geoff Boucher

"The Wolf Man" won't be seeing the light of day any time soon.

For the third time, Universal Pictures has pushed back the release date of its big-budget monster revival, which was most recently set to arrive in theaters Nov. 6 and will now come out Feb. 12.

It's just the latest plot twist for the movie directed by Joe Johnston ("Jumanji," "Jurassic Park III") and starring Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and Anthony Hopkins.

The film's original director, Mark Romanek ("One Hour Photo"), walked away from the project just weeks before cameras were set to roll over a budget dispute when the film was planned as a $100-million project. There were also extensive re-shoots earlier this year for the movie, which at one point was scheduled for a February 2009 release. With the extra shooting time, the film is now expected to come in between $112 million and $120 million.

"The Wolf Man" was conspicuously absent at last weekend's Comic-Con International in San Diego, despite a high-profile visit to the event in 2008 by Del Toro, Blunt and effects guru Rick Baker. Widespread fan chatter now suggests the film will have to claw its way out of a credibility problem.

Universal's marketing and distribution chief, Adam Fogelson, said the latest date change was made to take advantage of a potentially bigger box-office weekend.

Although February was long considered a graveyard month for Hollywood, Fogelson said that has changed, especially when it comes to releases timed to the Presidents Day weekend.

Around the holiday this year, "He's Just Not that Into You," "Taken" and "Coraline" all did strong business.

Fogelson also said the new date will allow filmmakers to complete more visual effects in time for marketing materials. A trailer for "The Wolf Man" will accompany Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" when it's released Aug. 21.

It's the second high-profile movie Universal has pulled from its 2009 slate amid the studio's tough year at the box office, a slate that includes "Duplicity," "State of Play" and "Land of the Lost." The studio moved its music movie "Pirate Radio" (once known as "The Boat That Rocked") to sister studio Focus Features, and postponed the release from late summer to November. Filmmaker Richard Curtis is re-cutting the film down after it bombed in the United Kingdom.

Had Universal not moved "The Wolf Man," it could have faced competition from Summit Entertainment's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," a tale of teenage vampires and werewolves, which is scheduled for a Nov. 20 release.

"The only conversation was, 'How do you get the biggest possible result on this movie?' " Fogelson said.

"The Wolf Man" saga is being closely watched by Marvel Studios, which has tapped Johnston to direct "First Avenger: Captain America," a major release for 2011.

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geoff.boucher@latimes.com

claudia.eller@latimes.com

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