TNT intends to revisit its stalled Tales from the Crypt revival, once certain rights issues have been settled. Each decade, a few select TV shows rise above simple small-screen greatness, becoming full-on pop culture empires. Much like The X-Files and The Simpsons, another show to become a merchandising juggernaut during the 1990s was HBO’s horror anthology series Tales from the Crypt. Spurred on by its darkly lovable host The Crypt Keeper (voiced by John Kassir), iconic Danny Elfman theme music, and tons of gore and nudity, Crypt turned into a phenomenon far eclipsing its premium cable roots.
Crypt ran for 7 seasons, one of the longest tenures of any TV anthology. While the series was still on the air, Crypt also expanded into the theatrical realm, releasing both the cult classic Demon Knight, and the less fondly remembered Bordello of Blood. The former starred recognizable names like Billy Zane, William Sadler, Thomas Haden Church, and Jada Pinkett Smith, while the latter was fronted by SNL veteran Dennis Miller. The Crypt Keeper’s rotting mug was plastered on just about every item imaginable as well, including theme park attractions, game shows, and kid-targeted cartoon spinoffs.
With that popularity in mind, when TNT announced plans to create a revival of Tales from the Crypt back in early 2016, the project immediately drew lots of excited attention from fans of the original. Unfortunately, many months then went by with no major updates. In December 2016, it was reported that TNT’s M. Night Shyamalan-produced Crypt revival was indefinitely stalled due to issues involving the rights to the franchise, and this status was later re-confirmed by the network. Sadly, not much has changed on that front, TNT boss Kevin Reilly tells Deadline:
“It’s been fun with lawyers, it’s been really fun. We did not know from the get-go or else we would not have announced it and made a big deal out of it. But in fact there were rights. It is among the most — if not the most — complicated rights structure I’ve ever seen in my career, and we had no idea as we got into it. It became a nightmare. So we said, ‘Fine.’ If and when this gets cleaned up, we’ll revisit.”
While that’s certainly not good news for those still hoping for a revival of Crypt, Reilly’s last sentence does make clear that TNT is still interested in pursuing the project, assuming said rights issues ever get ironed out. The question now becomes whether all the fans that cared about the idea in 2016 will still do so if it takes several additional years to resolve.
It feels a bit odd that a big network like TNT would publicly announce a new series without making sure in advance that they would be able to do so, but one should never underestimate just how tangled of a web can be created when it comes to Hollywood legalities. One need only remember the decades-long corporate fight over control of Adam West’s Batman series as a prime example.
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