Director Romanek departs 'Wolfman'


UPDATED 7:18 p.m. PT Jan. 29

Director Mark Romanek has left Universal's "The Wolf Man," just weeks before the movie was to go before cameras.

The helmer and studio were on opposite sides of the budget fence. Romanek was asking for additional money to make the film, and the studio was adamant about containing it to the $100 million range, especially because the project was being eyed as an R-rated horror film, typically not blockbuster fare.

The studio is looking at several helmer contenders and is intent on starting production in March. One complication is that no changes can be made to the script because of the writers strike. Any director coming on board will have to work from the screenplay Romanek developed with Andrew Kevin Walker and others and won't be able to put his or her stamp on it.

Benicio Del Toro still is on board to star as a man who returns to his ancestral home in Victorian England and gets bitten by a werewolf. Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt also are starring.

Also still on board are the producers, Scott Stuber and Mary Parent, and special effects wizard Rick Baker.

"Romanek leaves behind a well-prepped production that is poised to move forward, and Universal thanks him for helping bring one of its most cherished legacies and characters to renewed life," the studio said.

Romanek's departure harkens back to another troubled Universal production, "State of Play," which lost stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton weeks before shooting, only to be reborn with a pair of new stars, Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck.

Romanek, a music video director who wrote and helmed 2002's "One Hour Photo," is repped by Endeavor.