The Wolfman (2010 film)

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The Wolfman
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joe Johnston
Produced by Scott Stuber
Benicio del Toro
Rick Yorn
Sean Daniel
Screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker
David Self
Based on The Wolf Man 
by Curt Siodmak
Starring Benicio del Toro
Anthony Hopkins
Emily Blunt
Hugo Weaving
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Shelly Johnson
Edited by Dennis Virkler
Walter Murch
Mark Goldblatt (Uncredited)
Relativity Media
Stuber Pictures
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s)
  • January 27, 2010 (2010-01-27) (premiere)
  • February 12, 2010 (2010-02-12) (wide)
Running time 102 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1]
Box office $139,789,765[1]

The Wolfman is a 2010 American werewolf horror film directed by Joe Johnston. A remake of the 1941 film of the same name, the film retells the story of Lawrence Talbot who returns to his eerie English hometown of Blackmoor after his brother has been murdered by a "beast", forcing him to reunite with his estranged father, Sir John Talbot, meet his brother's grieving widow, Gwen Conliffe, and encounter the beast, whom he discovers to be a werewolf, who killed his brother, leaving Talbot cursed for every full moon but as events progress, Talbot's curse leads him to the true identity of the werewolf responsible for cursing him and murdering his brother. The film includes an ensemble cast featuring Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving, and Geraldine Chaplin. The screenplay was written by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self and features creature make-up effects by Ricker Baker.

Acclaimed director Mark Romanek was originally attached to direct the film with the idea to "...infuse a balance of cinema in a popcorn movie scenario."[2] However, creative disagreements between the studio forced him to depart from the project. Despite the project being left with no director, the planned filming schedule did not halt. Four weeks prior to filming, Universal hired director Joe Johnston to direct the film, convincing the studio he could shoot the film in under 80 days however, the film suffered a troubled production with rewrites, reshoots, reedits, the switch of music composers, all factors that forced the studio to push back the film's release date multiple times from its original November 2008 release until the studio finally eventually settled on an early 2010 release.[3]

The film was released in the United States on February 12, 2010.[4] The film was met with a mixed to negative reception from critics and failed to meet back its budget from the box office however, the film found more success when it was released on DVD/Blu-ray, earning an overall total of $21 million in home media sales.[5] Amongst the criticism pointed out by critics was the film's obvious troubled production reflected within the film's editing, directing, acting, and screenplay but praised the film's dark tone and melodic atmosphere, its Victorian era set pieces, Danny Elfman's moody and eerie Eastern European-esque score and Baker's werewolf make-up effects which earned him an Academy Award for Best Makeup, along with make-up effects supervisor Dave Elsey.


In 1891, Ben Talbot is confronted by an unknown creature in the Blackmoor woods. He tries to escape, but is attacked, chased and killed by the beast.

Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), Ben's fiancée, has contacted his brother, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro), the world-renowned Shakespearean actor, saying that Ben disappeared a month ago. Lawrence leaves his theater tour to return to his family's estate in Blackmoor where he has an uneasy reunion with his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins). Ben's body, found the day before, has been stored at a slaughterhouse. When Lawrence views his brother's remains, he is horrified; the body is completely mauled. Among Ben's personal effects is a medallion that Ben apparently purchased from gypsies. Later at the local pub, Lawrence overhears the locals discussing the killing. Many blame the gypsies who are camped outside the town, while another patron claims there was a similar murder several decades earlier, and a werewolf was the suspected killer.

That night, Lawrence has flashbacks as he tours his old family's home. It is revealed that his mother, Solana, had committed suicide when he was a boy. Lawrence saw his father standing over her dead body, after which he was sent to an insane asylum in London, ostensibly for suffering delusions.

After Gwen returns to London, Lawrence visits the gypsies during a full moon. The local townspeople raid the camp to confiscate a dancing bear they believe is the killer. But a creature suddenly attacks, slaughtering many people. While chasing a frightened young boy (Oliver Adams) who has run into the woods, Lawrence is savagely bitten by the creature. The townspeople chase it off with gunshots. As a gypsy woman named Maleva (Geraldine Chaplin) sutures his neck wounds, her daughter insists Lawrence should be killed before he destroys other lives. Maleva refuses, saying he is still a man and that only a loved one can release him.

Gwen returns to Talbot Hall to care for Lawrence. He suffers several fitful dreams, but after a few weeks, appears to have completely recovered. Sir John Talbot's servant, Singh (Art Malik), shows Lawrence the silver bullets he has and implies that something monstrous is loose in Blackmoor. Inspector Aberline (Hugo Weaving) arrives to investigate the recent murders. He suspects Lawrence is responsible based on his mental history and masterful portrayals of mentally-ill protagonists such as Prince Hamlet and Macbeth. As the night draws near, several hunters from the town take position in the woods, waiting for the beast to appear so they may capture it. Worried about what might happen, Lawrence sends Gwen away. He follows Sir John Talbot to Solana's crypt who tells him that he has been "dead" for years, locks himself in the room alone. Lawrence undergoes a very painful transformation into the Wolfman before running off into the woods and killing the hunters stationed there. The next day, Aberline and the local police arrest a bloodied, frantic, now-human Lawrence, while his father whispers, "Be strong, Lawrence" with a sly smile.

Taken to the same asylum he was committed to as a child, Lawrence is subjected to ice-water and electrotherapy treatments overseen by Dr. Hoenneger (Antony Sher). Sir John visits Lawrence and explains that many years before while hunting in India, he was bitten by a feral boy infected with lycanthropy. Lawrence realizes that he saw his father, as a werewolf, kill his mother. After that tragedy, Sir John Talbot had relied on Singh to imprison him during full moons. Yet one night, Sir John Talbot became drunk and got into a heated argument with Ben. Having knocked Singh out and unable to lock himself in, Sir John killed Ben and attacked the gypsy camp. Now intoxicated by the werewolf's immense power, Sir John no longer intends to restrain that potency and wishes to let the beast run free.

On the night of the full moon, Dr. Hoenneger presents Lawrence, strapped in a chair, to his colleagues as an interesting case study. He tries to explain to Lawrence that it is his imagination that he will turn into a werewolf. Lawrence tries to warn Dr. Hoenneger but he goes on with his lecture. As the full moon streams through the window, Lawrence (in severe pain) transforms into the Wolfman, breaks loose, and kills Hoenneger. Pursued by Aberline, the Wolfman goes on a bloody rampage in the streets of London. The next day, the now-human Lawrence goes to Gwen's antique shop for help. The two realize they are falling in love and share a passionate kiss. Aberline arrives and searches the shop, but Lawrence has already escaped and returned to Blackmoor.

Lawrence arrives at Talbot Hall and finds Singh's mutilated body hanging in the foyer. He loads a gun with Singh's silver bullets, but when he attempts to shoot Sir John, he discovers that Sir John had secretly removed the powder from the cartridges years ago. When the full moon rises, both transform into werewolves. A vicious fight erupts, and the house is set on fire. A badly wounded Lawrence, after throwing his father in the firepit, kills his father. Gwen arrives hoping to save Lawrence, followed by Aberline, who attempts to shoot the Wolfman. Gwen disrupts the shot and flees with Aberline's revolver. Aberline attempts to stop the Wolfman from going after Gwen, but the Wolfman bites Aberline before pursuing Gwen.

Eventually, the Wolfman traps Gwen above a gorge. She pleads with Lawrence, whose consciousness faintly recognises her. As he hesitates, the hunters approach and the Wolfman turns to look at them. Gwen picks up the revolver and shoots the Wolfman with a silver bullet. He reverts to Lawrence and thanks Gwen for doing what needed to be done.

The wounded Aberline arrives (carrying the wolf cane Lawrence first had), along with the mob of Hunters, as Lawrence dies in peace. Aberline and Gwen look with horror at the bite wound in his shoulder and then at the moon, realizing his inevitable fate.

The Wolfman's howl is heard once more as Talbot Hall burns in the distance.


Max von Sydow appears as an elderly man who gives Lawrence the wolf-head cane; his part was cut from the theatrical film but is restored on the DVD release. Make-up artist Rick Baker makes a cameo appearance as the Gypsy man who is the first killed.[6] The Wolfman's howl incorporated elements from Gene Simmons and David Lee Roth, as well as opera singers and animal impersonators. Frank Welker did the roars and growls of the werewolves and the feral boy.[7]


In March 2006, Universal Pictures announced the remake of The Wolf Man with actor Benicio del Toro, a fan of the original and collector of Wolf Man memorabilia, in the lead role.[8][9] Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker was attached to the screenplay, developing the original film's story to include additional characters as well as plot points that would take advantage of modern visual effects.[10] Del Toro also looked towards Werewolf of London and The Curse of the Werewolf for inspiration.[11]

Rick Baker chose to keep his version as close and faithful to the original Jack Pierce design as much as possible.

In February 2007, director Mark Romanek was attached to helm The Wolfman.[10] In January 2008, Romanek left the project because of creative differences.[12] Brett Ratner emerged as a frontrunner to replace Romanek, but the studio also met with Frank Darabont, James Mangold and Joe Johnston. They were also interested in Bill Condon and Martin Campbell was interested.[13] Johnston was hired to direct on 3 February 2008, and the film's shooting schedule and budget remained as intended.[14] Johnston hired David Self to rewrite the script.[15]

Shooting took place from 3 March to 23 June 2008, in Britain.[16] At that time the film was budgeted at US$85 million.[12] They shot at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, Chatsworth in Derbyshire and Castle Combe in Wiltshire.[17] They transformed Chatsworth House by adding weeds, dead grass and ivy.[18] They also shot in Lacock in Wiltshire, a village conserved by the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, for a day. Universal donated £5,000 to the village, in return for filming in the tithe barn for a scene involving frozen corpses.[19] A funeral scene was also shot beside the Temple of Ancient Virtue at Stowe House, with the temple coated in false ivy and copious amounts of smoke/mist floating over the setting. There was also scenes filmed on Dartmoor, Devon at Foggintor Quarry. Pick-ups at Pinewood were conducted in May 2009.[20]

Rick Baker created the make-up for The Wolfman. When he heard Universal was remaking the film, he eagerly pursued it, as both The Wolf Man and Frankenstein inspired him to become a make-up artist as a child. He acknowledged transforming del Toro was not difficult because he is a hairy man: "Going from Benicio to Benicio as the Wolf Man isn't a really extreme difference. Like when I did An American Werewolf in London, we went from this naked man to a four-legged hound from Hell, and we had a lot of room to go from the transformation and do a lot of really extreme things. Here we have Benicio del Toro, who's practically the Wolf Man already, to Benicio del Toro with more hair and bigger teeth."[21]

Baker and del Toro were adamant about the design resembling the make-up created by Jack Pierce, but Romanek went through thousands of concept art. When Johnston signed on, Baker returned to his second design, which is the finished result.[22] The make-up took three hours to apply, and one hour to remove. New pieces of latex prosthetic makeup and loose hair was applied to del Toro's face each day, while several dentures and wigs were created in case some were damaged.[21] Baker said the transformation would likely be computer-generated, which disappointed him as he would not be involved and felt it would look unrealistic (as the animators did not have his knowledge of the design).[23] Director Joe Johnston explained that joining the film three weeks before photography placed limitations on his ability to film without using CG effects. He has stated, “I recognised that there were things that I was going to be able to do from the beginning to the end. and things that I had to rely on post-production for”. In reference to filming Benicio del Toro's actual transformation into the Wolfman, Johnston further explained, “I decided to basically shoot just Benicio, in the sequence where. he transforms. and decide in post-production what I wanted the transformation to be. That was really my main reason [for using CG]; it gave me so much more flexibility.” [24] In February 2009, ZBrush art of the transformation by Baker leaked online.[25] In addition to the film, at the 2009 Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Studios Florida added The Wolfman to the event.[26]


It was reported that Danny Elfman wrote a dark, melodic, and moody score for The Wolfman, which was rejected by the studio after the film was cut down half an hour in length and the music became too "wall-to-wall," creating what Johnston called too much repetition. Due to his not being able to come back and re-score (because he was contractually obligated to work on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland feature film), the producers decided rather than to expand on his ideas with a new composer (a path that they would eventually take), to take a gamble and attempt a different composer, along with a completely different approach, which would include extensive re-shooting of scenes. The idea was to quicken the pace and strike a similar tone to the successful Underworld films, turning a slow-paced story into a much faster one. Paul Haslinger subsequently wrote an electronic contemporary incarnation of The Wolfman score, which the studio quickly realised was not appropriate for the late 19th-century Gothic setting. Elfman's score, which was previously recorded is as a result, the one that is used in the final film instead.[27]

Universal decided to switch back scores close to the last minute, realising their experiment had failed. It is believed the material Haslinger did record specifically for the studio as his intended version of the score was subsequently destroyed shortly after his removal. Whether Haslinger retained any of his work for personal purposes is currently unknown. There has of late been two versions of the film Universal has known to have shown to test audiences, both featured Elfman's score in some form. Elfman's original recording was used in the final film, however, some additional music composers (Conrad Pope, Edward Shearmur, and Thomas Lindgren) were brought in to shape Elfman's score to fit the final cut of the film, as well as compose new material for the film.

Some confusion has surfaced regarding this, as many news sources are claiming Elfman never "completed" his score, sidestepping that he did, in fact, complete it, but had not re-shaped it to fit the studio's ever evolving changes. Conrad Pope, additional composer, previously worked with Elfman on Sleepy Hollow as an orchestrator and is a frequent collaborator with composer John Williams.

A similar situation formed for Elfman's Spider-Man 2, where the music in the final film stood mostly separate from the original work on the CD release, which reflected the first incarnation of the score.[28] Varese Sarabande Records has announced a CD of Elfman's score, which is already available on iTunes. In terms of style, Elfman's Wolfman is very much inspired by the works of Bartók, Prokofiev and Bernard Herrmann, as well as the soundtrack Wojciech Kilar wrote for Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 version of Dracula, a film which Anthony Hopkins also co-starred in. The main theme has a similar "Eastern European edge" to it.

Danny Elfman's version of The Wolfman score was officially released on 23 February, 11 days after the film's release. This is actually the original score Elfman made for the earlier cut of The Wolfman before it was temporarily rejected. A believed-to-be sample of Haslinger's rejected score was released around the same time, but was ultimately confirmed a false sample by Film Score Monthly record producer Ford A. Thaxton and Haslinger himself.[29]

Dark ambient musician Lustmord mentions on his personal blog that he made "some sounds for the score".[30] However, he is not credited for his work on the film.

Elfman's score was made available via publisher Varèse Sarabande [31]


Several companies are involved in the merchandising of the film. Rubies Costumes is making both child and adult costumes. Because costumes are sold to retailers months in advance, the Halloween costumes came out in 2009 since the film being pushed back to 2010 happened after the costumes had been shipped to retailers.[32]

Mezco Toyz is making 7 inch and 12 inch tall Wolfman action figures. They are also producing replicas of the medallion from the film.[33]

In early January 2010, Mezco Toyz donated the prototypes of the toys to the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.[34] The company released a 7 and a 12-Inch figure, alongside publishing the Wolfman Collectible Medallion Replica.[35]

Jonathan Maberry wrote a novelization to the film, of which the paperback was released on 2 February 2010, the same day the original The Wolf Man film was re-released on DVD with Universal's Legacy Series. It includes a scene early in the story which explains how Lawrence obtained the cane with a silver wolf's head (which features prominently in the original film but only sparingly in the remake), with Lawrence exchanging his ordinary wooden cane with an elderly Frenchman for the silver wolf's head cane on his initial trip to Blackmoor. It also has Gwen and her father owning an apothecary rather than an antiques shop, suggesting this was changed during the remake's development to be closer to the original film.


During the course of its production, The Wolfman saw its release date postponed several times. Originally scheduled for a 12 November 2008 release,[36] it was first pushed back to 12 February 2009.[37] Then, in April 2008, it got moved to 3 April 2009.[37] In December 2008, Universal moved the release to 6 November 2009.[38][39] Finally, the film was yet again moved in late July 2009 to 12 February 2010.[40] In most European countries the film was released on 10 and 11 February 2010.[41] The film premiered in Rome on 27 January 2010.[42]

The cast and crew were back on location re-shooting the film in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College and park in Greenwich over the weekends of 22-25 and 30–31 May 2009. The purpose of the re-shoots was to change the way one werewolf looked in the film. Previously, it stood on two legs, but now, he stands on four. Also, an action scene was added between "the Wolf Man and the Werewolf" according to Vic Armstrong.[43]

The first trailer for The Wolfman was attached to Inglourious Basterds, which was released to cinemas on 21 August 2009. The unrated director's cut is released with an exclusive Wolfman glow-in-the-dark cup and a Wolfman Dog Tag Keychain.[44]

Critical reception[edit]

The film has received mixed reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 35% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 208 reviews, with an average score of 4.8/10.[45] The critical consensus is: "Suitably grand and special effects-laden, The Wolfman suffers from a suspense-deficient script and a surprising lack of genuine chills."[45] It received a weighted average score of 43% on Metacritic based on 36 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews.[46]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film two and a half stars out of four, praising the atmospheric locations and melodramatic scope but lamenting CGI effects that he regarded as detrimental.[47] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone assigned the film one and a half stars out of four, concluding that "The Wolfman bites, but not — I think — in the way the filmmakers intended."[48] Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly praised Del Toro's performance as Lawrence, comparing it favourably to Lon Chaney, Jr.'s, in the original.[49]

In 2010, The Wolfman won at the 37th Saturn Awards for best make-up.[50] In 2011, the film and makeup artists, Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, received an Academy Award for Best Makeup for the 83rd Academy Awards.[51]

Ronald Meyer, president of Universal Studios, regarded the film as "crappy" and considered it to be "One of the worst movies we ever made."[52]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $19,850,000 on its opening day, and $31,479,235 in its opening weekend, coming in third at the box office after Valentine's Day and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.[53] The Wolfman grossed $139,789,765 worldwide, barely bringing back its $150 million budget.[1] In 2014, the LA Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office flops of all time.[54]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the US on June 1, 2010. Both editions include the theatrical version and an extended director's cut, which incorporates 17 minutes of footage back into the film.[55]

The Blu-ray Disc's special features include featurettes on the making of the film, including two alternate endings. The only special features included on the standard DVD are deleted and extended scenes. Best Buy has released an exclusive 2-Disc DVD set that includes a bonus disc featuring most of the BD special features. Upon the Blu-ray's release, viewers had the opportunity to stream the original 1941 film.

Despite bombing at the box office, the film found more success when it was released on DVD and Blu-ray, earning an overall total of $21 million in sales.[5]

Extended cut[edit]

The DVD/Blu-ray releases include an "unrated director's cut", featuring an additional 17 minutes of footage and the inclusion of the classic 40's era Universal logo at the beginning of the film.[56]

Johnston said the reason for deleting the 17 minutes from the final cut was "to push the story along so that audiences would get to the first Wolfman transformation sooner."[57] The extra footage contains the origin of the silver cane-sword and also the uncredited and completely removed part played by Max von Sydow who was the original owner of the cane. The character indicates that he obtained it in Gévaudan, a French province where in the 18th century villagers were attacked by an unknown beast known as the Beast of Gévaudan. Though Max von Sydow's credit is absent from the theatrical cut, there is still a credit for "Assistant to Mr. von Sydow."


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External links[edit]