It’s been 25 years since James O’Barr’s The Crow graphic novel debuted. The book would go on to sell over a million copies. It would also spawn a cult hit film adaptation which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. The original film starred Brandon Lee in what would be his final performance, as he died during an unfortunate accident while filming the movie. After that film, Hollywood churned out a few more sequels- but that’s where O’Barr checked out. He loathed the sequels and wanted no association with them. For the last couple of years, there’s been movement on a remake- which O’Barr loathed, too.
But then something happened.
The writer, who had taken a hard and fast stance against revisiting the hallowed ground of the first film, suddenly came around. Why? In a talk with Korsgaard’s Commentary, O’Barr revealed what it was that director F. Javier GutiÃ©rrez did to win him over.
“He flew over from Spain â€“ paid for his own flight â€“ 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 Leeâ€™s last film, that youâ€™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 â€˜I donâ€™t want to remake that film, that film is perfect as it is. I want to do your book, literally page-for-page adaptation.â€™ Thatâ€™s what changed by mind, that itâ€™s not a remake of the original film, or cashing in on the cult status of Brandon Lee, itâ€™s that Guiterrez wants to go back to the source material, which if youâ€™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 â€“ 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.”
If you ask me, the initial misunderstanding of the film’s intentions are further proof that Hollywood needs to come up with a new way to describe films like this. I’ve written on this topic before. There’s a difference between a remake, where you’re literally making the same movie again and adding your own update to it, and something like this where you’re revisiting a book and doing a reinterpretation of it. When it comes to adapting books, there’s often so much left out. So you can have two very different films come from the same book. Like O’Barr states later in the interview, “Weâ€™re not remaking the movie, weâ€™re readapting the book.”
Anyway, back to O’Barr’s comments on the new movie.
His transformation from being a critic of the project into actually being an active member of the production is quite notable. Here’s how much the filmmakers and the studio wanted O’Barr onboard:
“Then they hired this actor from England, named Luke Evans, who flew here to ask for my blessing before heâ€™d sign onto the role. We talked for a bit, and he mentions all these films heâ€™s been in, and Iâ€™ve seen a lot of them, he becomes whatever the role needs, he becomes the character. Iâ€™ve seen him in the make-up too, and he looks great.
So after this, Javier, Luke and I went to the studio and said we wonâ€™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 â€˜franchiseâ€™, they have to get it right. Weâ€™re hoping to begin production later this month, and start shooting in the spring.”
That’s quite a turnaround and, if you’re a fan of The Crow, probably music to your ears.
SOURCE: Korsgaard’s Commentary