In recent years, it seems that the majority of big movie releases have been sequels, comic book adaptations or remakes (or reboots or re-imaginings). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Christopher Nolan has shown with his two (soon to be three) Batman movies essentially being all three of those things.

But while some movies merit sequels and some comic books can credibly be adapted for the big screen, and some franchises need to start from scratch, there will always be movies or franchises that fans just want to have left alone.

Until very recently, John Carpenter’s Escape From New York had been slated to be remade. Escape From New York was very much a cult movie, and Kurt Russell’s Snake Plisken is an iconic character. The idea of someone else playing the role (Gerard Butler was linked) was unthinkable to fans of the original. But in July, stories surfaced that suggested New Line were shelving the idea.

But now another cult movie is facing a dreaded and unwelcome ‘re-boot’, The Crow. Based on James O’Barr’s comic book, The Crow is a supernatural tale of a man brought back from the dead to avenge the death of his wife. Released in 1994, The Crow was a box office success, but has gained a cult following due to its gothic stylings.

But The Crow is perhaps best known because of the death of star Brandon Lee during filming. The son of Bruce Lee, Brandon had not enjoyed a great deal of success in his movie career, prior to landing the lead role in The Crow, playing Eric Draven. After its release, The Crow received mostly positive praise, with Roger Ebert saying that it was the best of Brandon’s career, and better than any movie his father had made.

Sadly, Brandon would never see the finished film. During the filming of the scene that would see Eric Draven murdered (ironically this scene was part of the opening sequence, which had been scheduled later to allow the bulk of the movie, featuring Lee in heavy make up, to be filmed first), a bullet lodged in a gun from a previous dummy round was accidentally fired into Lee’s abdomen and lodged in his spine. Lee died around 12 hours later.

With only a few scenes left to be filmed, filming would resume two months later after the script was re-written. Because of the technical challenges involved in completing the movie without Lee, the budget rose to around $15million. Even that was still a small budget, and upon its release, The Crow would more than make the money back. The opening weekend grossed more than $11million, and the film would go on to take almost $100million worldwide.

Despite its critical and commercial success, The Crow is still regarding as something of a cult movie. Eric’s distinctive make up following his resurrection and an overall gothic feel to the movie coupled with a metal soundtrack means the movie endures and constantly finds new audiences.

Despite three sequels being unsuccessful, a remake is in the works. Rumours recently started flying that Channing Tatum or Mark Wahlberg would play Eric Draven in a new version, with Bradley Cooper having been previously linked.

But there seems to be no good reason to remake The Crow. It is a very dark, vicious movie, set in a violent Detroit. These days studios are more reluctant than ever to make edgy, dark movies, and it seems inevitable that the tone of any remake will be lighter than the first movie. It would also seem unlikely that fans of the original would want to see a remake. The lack of success of the sequels suggests that The Crow was something of a fluke, a one off success story. Lee, of course, would never make another movie, but The Crow was by far his best, and his performance was outstanding. Although director Alex Proyas went on to make the critically acclaimed Dark City, his career has stalled somewhat with I, Robot and Knowing receiving generally poor reviews.

So it’s clear that remakes, reboots and re-imaginings can often work, but in the case of The Crow, Hollywood should steer clear.

David Dougan

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