In late May, it was announced that the Wolfman would be Universal’s next monster up with Ryan Gosling set to star in the lead role. At the time, I wrote that the studio was looking to make Wolfman a priority and the hunt was on for a director, with Bad Education‘s Cory Finley one of the leading candidates.
It would appear that Universal has landed on someone a little closer to home to helm Wolfman, however. THR broke the news that The Invisible Man‘s Leigh Whannell is in deep talks to direct. Unsurprisingly, Blumhouse is on board to produce. Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo penned the script, which is being described as having a vibe that’s a cross between Nightcrawler and Network with Gosling reportedly playing an anchorman who gets infected and turns into the titular Wolfman.
With that description, it appears it will be a tension-fueled thriller, perfect for Whannell. The Invisible Man was a monster (hah) hit for Universal earlier this year, grossing almost $125 million worldwide on a $28 million budget. That was in large part thanks to Elisabeth Moss’s gripping portrayal of a woman being tormented and gaslit by her abusive ex, who had figured out a way to make himself invisible. Whannell’s film was less a straight horror film as it was a psychological thriller and his deftness in layering tension with strong character work made it a standout in the genre.
Its success also prompted a collective sigh of relief from Universal. The studio had struggled for years to reboot their Universal Classic Monsters with the Dark Universe, but two failed starts with Dracula Untold and The Mummy reboot torpedoed their plans for an interconnected cinematic universe. The studio went back to the drawing board and, with the help of Jason Blum’s Blumhouse, reemerged with a new plan for these movies to be largely standalone, director-driven visions. Whannell’s Invisible Man was both test and proof that this new direction is the smart one.
Along with Wolfman, Universal has various other monster movies in development. Karyn Kusama has been tapped to develop a Dracula movie for Blumhouse. Dexter Fletcher is working on a spinoff movie about Dracula’s minion, Renfield, though with Fletcher also set to direct The Saint reboot, it’s unclear how quickly Renfield will come together. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Banks is set to direct and star in The Invisible Woman, based on an original pitch of her own, and Paul Feig is working on Dark Army. That movie aims to be Universal’s monster equivalent of an Avengers team-up, with classic monsters and new characters appearing in the same movie.
No word yet on a release date, but considering they already have a lead, a director, and a script, expect Wolfman to be fast-tracked.