Johnston to direct ‘Wolfman’

Director replaces Romanek

Universal’s “The Wolfman” has gotten out of a hairy situation.

The studio set Joe Johnston late Sunday night to replace Mark Romanek as helmer of the pic, keeping the $100 million thriller on course to begin production in London in March.

Romanek stepped out last week over creative differences.

Benicio Del Toro has long been attached to play the title character, but Romanek’s exit comes after the studio firmed up Anthony Hopkins to play the title character’s father, and for Emily Blunt (“Charlie Wilson’s War”) to play the female lead.

By solving the director conundrum quickly, U execs keep another of their big 2009 films together; the studio previously salvaged “State of Play” by signing Russell Crowe to replace Brad Pitt in the starring role, after Pitt bowed out weeks before filming was to begin.

“The Wolfman,” one of the treasured horror properties in the studio vaults, will cost $85 million, counting about $15 million in tax breaks for shooting in the United Kingdom.

Andrew Kevin Walker wrote the script. Pic’s produced by Scott Stuber, Mary Parent, Sean Daniel, Rick Yorn and Andy Davis.

Johnston last directed “Hidalgo” and “Jurassic Park III.”

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