THE CROW creator James O'Barr updates on the planned reboot

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I’m pretty sure that as half of the world celebrated Halloween on this Friday past, you probably saw quite a few folk walking around dressed in grungy black clothes, their faces painted white with black clown makeup as they try to impersonate Eric Draven from The Crow (while everybody just assumes they’re going through a goth phase). That’s because while director Alex “Dark City” Proyas’ adaptation of James O’Barr’s comic, The Crow, may have been released all the way back in 1994, its cult popularity is still quite strong.

And that popularity persists not just because the movie is the macabre answer to the Trivial Pursuit question of “Which movie was Brandon Lee working on when he accidentally died on set?”, but rather because it was damn good. And just like most other really good stuff from my younger years, it’s getting rebooted. Well, kind of. At least that’s according to creator O’Barr himself who explained to blogger Sean Korsgaard in an in-depth interview that this wasn’t so much a reboot as it was a reimagining of his original stories.

“We’re not remaking the movie. We’re readapting the book. My metaphor is that there is a Bela Lugosi ‘Dracula’ and there’s a Francis Ford Coppola ‘Dracula’. They use the same material, but you still got two entirely different films. This one’s going to be closer to ‘Taxi Driver’ or a John Woo film, and I think there’s room for both of them. Part of the appeal of ‘The Crow’ comics, after all, is that they can tell very different stories.”

Speaking of Dracula, it’s already been confirmed that Dracula Untold star Luke Evans will be under the face paint this time as Eric. Note: I said Eric, not Eric Draven as in the character played by Brandon Lee in the 90’s film.

“Eric Draven was a creation of the movie –If you read the comic, Eric and Shelley never have their last names revealed. Hopefully, this is one area the new movie being more faithful to the comic will come into play, and Eric won’t be going by Eric Draven in the new film. Luke Evans may play Eric, but Brandon Lee will forever be Eric Draven… [N]o one understands that fear more than me. Brandon Lee was a friend and I’d never do anything to hurt his legacy.”

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Maybe due to how his death is linked to the movie, the role of Eric Draven is the one that most people associate with Brandon Lee more than any of his other performances. The son of Bruce Lee, arguably the greatest martial artist of all time, Brandon had a really bright future ahead of him in the movie business, and was just starting to come into his own as an action hero when tragedy struck. And seeing as how The Crow is literally the story of a talented entertainer tragically struck down before his time, it has become an intrinsic part of Lee’s legacy.

In other words, Luke Evans seriously has his work cut out for him if he wants to make this role his now. That’s something that O’Barr is firmly aware of, but has high hopes that it can be done, and in fact Evans is already on the right path to pulling this off.

“[Like Evans] flew here to ask for my blessing before he’d sign onto the role. We talked for a bit, and he mentions all these films he’s been in, and I’ve seen a lot of them, he becomes whatever the role needs, he becomes the character. I’ve seen him in the make-up too, and he looks great.”

Getting O’Barr’s blessing certainly is a big deal, especially since the creator has been very vocal over the years about just how much he detested the sequels that were made to Proyas’ original film as well as the idea of a reboot. That all changed when he actually met the director F. Javier Gutiérrez, a critically acclaimed fantasy genre short film maker from Spain.

“No one was more against a remake than I was. While I own the rights to the comics and the characters, the studios owned the film rights, so all those god-awful sequels they made, I got paid for them, but I never wanted anything to do with them. It was the same way initially with the production on this remake – I’m sure you know a lot of the early rumors from a few years back, it looked like a fiasco. Fans were angry, rightfully so in my opinion, and so was I.”

“[Then F. Javier Gutiérrez] flew over from Spain – paid for his own flight – to talk to me. He got off the airplane, I took him to my car, and I was going to lecture him for an hour and then put him right back on the plane. I did give him the whole lecture too, no one wants this, no one wants to see a remake, that the original is sacred ground because it was Brandon Lee’s last film, that you’re committing career suicide by trying to remake that film.

I told him all of this, he listened to every word, and then he told me ‘I don’t want to remake that film, that film is perfect as it is. I want to do your book, literally page-for-page adaptation.’ That’s what changed my mind, that it’s not a remake of the original film, or cashing in on the cult status of Brandon Lee, it’s that Gutiérrezwants to go back to the source material, which if you’ve read the book and seen the film, while the movie has the right feel and the right flavor of the book, probably only 40% of the book made it into the movie.

That got me intrigued – the idea of adapting it from page 1 and going from there, including a lot of the darker or stranger elements of the comic dropped from the original film.”

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One of the reasons why some of the more outlandish elements may not have made it into the original movie was because Proyas was working on a shoestring budget, but yet he still managed to accomplish something incredible that influenced so many other projects at the time.

“It’s really incredible looking back at just what a small, personal film it was. There’s less than six seconds of CGI in the entire movie, it cost just $10 million to make, which is simply incredible given how the movie looks visually. Just lots of little touches – director Alex Proyas did absolutely brilliant work with miniatures in the movie, he used radio controlled cars or helicopters in certain scenes. It may have been made on a shoestring, but everyone involved gave 100%.”

Besides for the oft-copied visuals, the original film boasted quite the mood-setting soundtrack, curated by none other than Barr himself. This is one aspect that definitely won’t be changing with this reimagining.

“We’re including some music I’d wanted to originally, but just couldn’t get the rights to. Some actual Joy Division songs. Some vintage Cure songs. I’m still pretty active in the music industry, and there is a lot of neo-goth bands out there, that have that same sound, and I’ve talked to some of them about contributing, and they’re very excited about it.”

The music is not the only thing that O’Barr is in charge of for this remake though, which should definitely help to ease fans’ fears.

“Javier, Luke and I went to the studio and said we won’t do this unless all three of us do it together. I said if you want me involved, this is what I need, I want control of the soundtrack, like with the first one, I want a voice on all the casting, and I want to be able to give my two cents on the script and the characters, and they agreed to everything. I think the studio understands that if they want a Crow ‘franchise’, they have to get it right. We’re hoping to begin production later this month, and start shooting in the spring.|

With Barr this involved and the direction they’re taking, I’ve got to say that this is sounding a hell of a lot more promising now then when I first heard about it. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we start hearing some further casting and production details.

Last Updated: November 3, 2014

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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