It's been a slow crawl out of development hell for Relativity Media's reboot of The Crow franchise. Plans have been in place to breathe new life into the series since 2007, but a succession of creative and logistical roadblocks have unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about it) kept the project grounded.
The most recent blow dealt to The Crow reboot occurred in October when Stephen Norrington vacated the director's chair. After spending several years working on the film, Norrington revealed that he had refused to make certain changes to the most recent draft of the script by Nick Cave. Those changes were evidently demanded by a potential lead actor - who may or may not have been Mark Wahlberg. Either way, Norrington's exit sent the production back to square one.
A few months later, there were rumors that Spanish filmmakers Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) and F. Javier Gutiérrez (Before the Fall) were both being considered for the gig. Of the two, I was a little bit more interested in what type of Crow film Fresnadillo would deliver - and now it looks I'll get to find out.
Relativity has announced that Fresnadillo has officially signed on to helm their reboot of The Crow. It's unclear how many of Norrington's ideas might ultimately carry over into this new iteration, but they're apparently tossing out previous versions of the script. A new writer will be hired to work closely with Fresnadillo on a fresh approach to the material.
Producer Edward R. Pressman believes that with Fresnadillo's involvement, The Crow reboot will live up to the reputation of the 1994 original:
“The original Crow was groundbreaking cinema; its gothic visual and musical ideas influenced a generation and cinema itself. With Juan Carlos, we have every confidence that his new Crow will have a similar impact on the contemporary audience.”
Based on James O' Barr's popular graphic novel, the original Crow established itself as a critical & commercial success despite a well-publicized on-set accident that claimed the life of star Brandon Lee. Lee's death added further layers of irony & tragedy to the film and his performance helped The Crow earn a legion of devoted fans.
Recognizing how beloved Lee was in the role of Eric Draven, the filmmakers chose to highlight new protagonists with subsequent entries in the franchise. The quality and popularity of The Crow's sequels diminished considerably with each installment (the most recent currently holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) so I suppose it was only a matter of time before the word "reboot" started getting tossed around.
A 1998 television series proved that fans aren't totally resistant to the idea of a new actor playing Draven, but I think their understanding probably had more to do with the fact that the story was being presented in a different medium.
Alex Proyas' 1994 adaptation of The Crow is often credited as one of the best examples of a comic-to-film translation, but it actually makes significant deviations from O' Barr's original work. I'm not crazy about the reboot myself, but I still believe there's enough unused material from the comic to justify a wildly different approach to the story.
28 Weeks Later may not have been as good as 28 Days Later, but I found more than a few of Fresnadillo's visuals striking and memorable. If nothing else, it seems likely that The Crow reboot will at least boast the same visual panache as its predecessors.