Ratner among 'Wolf' men

Uni has pack of helmers in mind

Universal is wasting no time in its search for a director for "The Wolf Man" following Mark Romanek's exit from the period horror movie.

Brett Ratner, Frank Darabont, James Mangold and Joe Johnston have either met with the studio and producers or are expected to do so in the coming days.

Bill Condon also is a helmer the studio is keen on.

The biggest challenge the studio faces is its inability to work on the script because of the writers strike. Any filmmaker coming on board takes on a locked script, overseen by Romanek over several years, and many directors want to put their stamp on it. Martin Campbell is one helmer who was interested, but he is no longer in contention.

Another potential wrinkle is star Benicio Del Toro. The actor, known to be choosy with parts and directors, might have a say in the process.

Many on the list are writer-directors, but Ratner is not. The director, who met with the studio Wednesday, is emerging as the strongest contender because of the fact that he has experience in taking over a project that has lost a director late in the game. Ratner famously took over "X-Men: The Last Stand" after Bryan Singer flew the coop to direct "Superman Returns."

The studio is expected to find its man next week for the film, which has a dedicated March start date.