At least he’s honest. Back in 2008 Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go) bailed on directing The Wolfman due to “creative differences”, which lead Universal to hire Jurassic Park 3 director Joe Johnston less than a month before filming was scheduled to begin.
Production problems caused the movie to be pushed back several times, from November 2008 all the way back to February 2010, and the end result was 33% on Rotten Tomatoes and only $140 million at the worldwide box office (the budget was $150 million). In a recent interview Johnston spoke about his time on the movie, and admits that money was a factor when taking on the job.
I had three weeks of prep on WOLFMAN, a ridiculously inadequate amount of time to try to bring together the fractured and scattered pieces of the production. I had taken the job mostly because I had a cash flow problem, the only time in my career I’ve ever let finances enter into the decision process. Money is always the wrong reason for doing something that requires passionate devotion. The production was a leaky, rudderless ship in a perfect storm suffering from bad decisions, infighting, reluctance of the powers-that-be to take responsibility, and too many under-qualified cooks in the kitchen. The good news and bad news about directing is that when the picture works you’re showered with all the credit and when it doesn’t work you’re dumped on with all the blame. Both scenarios are undeserved. I take full responsibility for THE WOLFMAN not working because it goes with the territory.
There were wonderful aspects of THE WOLFMAN experience. I inherited a crew that was the best of my experience, including a first assistant director without whom I could not have made it through the first two weeks. I had the immense pleasure of working with a cast that was as diverse and multifaceted as it could be. I rediscovered all that I love about London and its environs and I made some lifelong friends, on and off the crew.
In comparison Johnston says he had thirty weeks of prep on Captain America: The First Avenger, and with the help of “qualified, supportive, creative producers” and “the best designers, artists, sculptors, craftspeople” he has had “the most universally positive experience in this mad business.”
If Johnston delivers next July i’m sure people will forgot about his Wolfman mishap. Before The Wolfman Johnston’s last movie was Hidalgo in 2004, so I can understand why he decided to take on a movie he wasn’t 100% passionate about.