March 16, 2006

Oscar winner Del Toro ready to play “Wolf Man”

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He was the Mexican narcotics
officer in "Traffic," a born-again ex-con in "21 Grams" and a
corrupt cop in "Sin City." Now actor Benicio Del Toro looks
forward to playing "The Wolf Man."

Universal Pictures, which just named a new executive team
on Thursday after a mediocre year at the box office, has tapped
screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker to haul the 1941 horror
classic out of the closet for a brush-up, with Del Toro to
assume the title role.

The Puerto Rican-born actor, who won an Oscar for his
performance in "Traffic," would fill the role Lon Chaney Jr.
played in the 1941 original as a guy transformed into a
nocturnal man-beast by the bite of a werewolf, a spokesman for
the film studio said.

Unlike the original, however, the remake will be set in
Victorian England, rather than in modern Britain, he said.

Walker, whose previous screen credits include the crime
thriller "Seven" and "Sleepy Hollow," has spent several months
working up new plot twists and characters to make the most of
new high-tech visual effects.

Universal, which released the original picture and owns
rights to the Wolf Man character, said no director is yet
attached to the project and no production date has been set.

Show business trade paper Daily Variety said producers hope
to start shooting the film next year, with the expectation of
"Wolf Man" becoming a big summer 2008 release.

Universal previously scored huge success with an update to
"The Mummy," another title in its vault of horror classics. The
1999 remake grossed $412 million worldwide and the 2001 sequel
"The Mummy Returns" grossed $433 million.

Other titles in Universal's library of monster flicks
include "Dracula," "Frankenstein," "The Bride of Frankenstein"
and "Creature from the Black Lagoon," the latter of which is
also in development for a possible remake.

"We are continuing to mine the library as much as we can,"
Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron
Meyer told Reuters, when asked about the franchise potential of
its old monster favorites. "We are headed somewhat in that

Universal's costly "King Kong" remake, based on the 1933
classic from RKO Radio Pictures, was one of only two releases
from the studio last year that crossed the $100 million mark at
the box office. But its $217 million domestic gross still fell
short of expectations for a film that cost well over $200
million to produce and market.

Variety said "The Wolf Man" remake deal grew out of
meetings between the producers, Walker and Del Toro, who the
newspaper said collects Wolf Man memorabilia. Del Toro's last
big-screen appearance was the crooked cop Jackie Boy Rafferty
in "Sin City." He also earned an Oscar nomination for his
supporting role in "21 Grams."