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Exclusive: James O’Barr says “CROW” reboot is a new adaptation, not a remake

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At the Montreal Comiccon this past summer, Fango got a chance to chat with James O’Barr, comics creator of THE CROW, about the new screen version. Then news broke that Relativity Films, which was backing the reboot, was headed for bankruptcy—but with director Corin Hardy confirming here that the show will go on, read on for O’Barr’s comments about the movie.

First and foremost, O’Barr, who has been closely involved with Hardy’s film, says, “It’s not a remake of the Brandon Lee film. It goes right back to the book, and it’s almost a page-for-page adaptation. If you’ve read the graphic novel and seen that movie, they’re two very different animals, and that’s mainly due to what a low-budget production the first CROW was. I use a lot of visual metaphors—horses and trains and street signs and things—and Corin’s really excited about having all that stuff in his version.”

CROWREMAKEOBARRNEWSO’Barr has been involved in Hardy’s vision for THE CROW for some time now: “Relativity brought Corin and me together several months ago in LA, and we talked about the project,” he recalls. “They showed me THE HALLOW, and it was very impressive, especially for a first film. He already has a style in place. I was familiar with his shorts before that, too, because I’m a big fan of stop-motion animation, and he’s done several of those. We spent about four days together, and by the end of the first day we were finishing each other’s sentences. We were on the exact same page with everything. He brought a copy of the graphic novel with him, and we went through it page by page. He wanted to know what everything meant, if there was symbolism or some hidden meaning in certain things. I’m working hand in hand with him; he hasn’t made any choices in casting or locations without consulting me.”

One of the more eye-opening choices involved the potential casting of a woman, Andrea Riseborough, as villain Top Dollar, who was a man in O’Barr’s comic and the ’94 movie (as played by Michael Wincott). While Riseborough’s participation isn’t still confirmed as of now, O’Barr reveals the gender switch will stick. “It’s not what people might expect,” he says. “She’s the girlfriend of one of the gang members, and not necessarily the head of the gang, like everyone thinks. It’s adding more layers to the bad guys. They all have extra backstory in this one, and get a little more screen time than I gave them in the book.”

O’Barr further divulges that Hardy might use stop-motion to bring the titular totemic bird to life, and overall plans to employ the same physical approach to the FX as he did in THE HALLOW. “Corin prefers to do everything practically and in-camera,” he says. “We just don’t care for the way CGI looks on film. It kind of drains the magic out of movies; you don’t wonder how they did something any more. With practical effects, you can see it right there, and there’s a realism that you don’t even get close to with CGI.”

Through the project’s many ups and downs that have seen numerous stars and filmmakers come and go, O’Barr has remained sanguine about the whole process, and looks forward to spending time on the set. “Corin definitely wants me to come over. He’s planning to shoot in Dublin, because they get a good tax break there. I’m pretty excited about it; there have been 100 setbacks in the last five years, but it seems like every time something goes wrong—they lose a director or actor—the next incarnation seems to be even better. I think that without a doubt, it’s going to happen.”

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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