As ‘The Crow’ flies: The director that drove Sean Connery to retirement and ensured that Alan Moore would never give Hollywood another chance wants to remake "The Crow." Reporter Michael Fleming has the announcement story in the trades: "Stephen Norrington has signed on to write and direct a reinvention of "The Crow," based on the comic created by James O’Barr. Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media is negotiating with producer Ed Pressman to acquire the film franchise and finance the film. Pressman produced the 1994 Alex Proyas-directed screen transfer, in which rock musician Eric Draven is murdered trying to rescue his girlfriend from thugs, and returns from the dead one year later to exact vengeance. Though the original became a gothic-style hit that grossed nearly $100 million worldwide, it is primarily remembered for a tragic accident in which star Brandon Lee was killed during filming. For Norrington, the "Crow" deal marks the end of a long screen sabbatical. After making his breakthrough with the Marvel Comics hero "Blade," Norrington took on a big-budget comic transfer with "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." Neither the director nor his star, Sean Connery, has made a film since. Norrington said he felt demoralized by that experience, and the accomplished sculptor spent the next five years writing and working on his art. He made a deal to direct "Clash of the Titans" for Warner Bros., but left the project, he said, because he was "unable to excite Warner Bros. with my take, or influence the screenplay to any comfortable extent…." "Whereas Proyas’ original was gloriously gothic and stylized, the new movie will be realistic, hard-edged and mysterious, almost documentary-style," Norrington told Daily Variety. [Variety]
‘Wolverine’ trailer: Well, 2009 is looking pretty fantastic for film-going fanboys. "Watchmen" and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," not to mention "Terminator Salvation." Oh, and just in case you were worried that "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" might be as sluggish and uninvolving as the third "X-Men" film, the trailer above should inspire some major mutant optimism.
Sinners and Spartans: Comics icon and newly minted filmmaker Frank Miller is getting ready for this Wednesday night’s premiere of "The Spirit" in Los Angeles but he answered (kinda) some questions from Edward Douglas about the next step in the cinematic life of "300" and "Sin City." Douglas writes: "With a lot of rumors swirling about a potential sequel or prequel to Zack Snyder’s ‘300,’ which was based on a standalone graphic novel, some have wondered how involved Miller would be, and if he might write or draw another graphic novel based on the subject matter as basis for another movie. ‘I’ve written a story that’s not a prequel,’ he told us. ‘It’s definitely a further story in the Greco-Persian Wars, and it involves some of the same characters but I’m not sure exactly how far along it’ll get and again, until it’s on a marquee, I don’t believe in it.’ And as far as whether Miller might co-direct [a second ‘Sin City’ film] with Robert Rodriguez again or direct himself, now that he has ‘The Spirit’ under his belt: ‘I hope to work with Robert. We’re talking it over and trying to work out the mechanics of actually getting it made. It’s always tricky with movies. I believe that a movie’s going to come out as soon as I see its name on a marquee.’ ‘I’ll publish something,’ he hinted with a smile, when asked whether there might be a ‘Sin City’ or ‘300’ comic or graphic novel out before either movie." [Superhero Hype]
Spirited debate: Speaking of Miller, one of the early fanboy-press reviews of "The Spirit" is in and says the film has replaced "Battlefield Earth" as the worst movie ever made. [Ain’t it Cool News] … I’ve seen the film myself and I don’t think it’s "Battlefield" bad — it has too many stylish aspirations — but I can say that in his attempt to make a film into a comic book (as opposed to, say, "300," which vividly turned a comic book into a film) Miller’s produced a tone-jarring movie that isn’t always sure what it wants to be. I think Miller has an incredible visual flair and his sensibility has made him the most important comic book artist of the past 25 years, but I don’t know if mainstream moviegoers are going to know what to make of "The Spirit."
Hammer time: Actor-director Kenneth Branagh has opened up a bit about his plans for a certain Norse god. Here’s his conversation with MTV from a junket for "Valkyrie": "I am directing ‘Thor,‘ or ‘The Mighty Thor’ as you might like to call it," he said with a smile before clarifying what the title of the film will be. ‘I think it will be ‘Thor.’ " … So what’s the appeal of ‘Thor,’ Kenneth? "To work on a story about one of the immortals, Gods, extraordinary beings, inter-dimensional creatures," he enthused. He continued excitedly, "There’s science fiction and science fact and fantasy all woven into one. It’s based on Norse legends which Marvel sort of raided in a brilliant way." So who will play Branagh’s hero? Asked about the rumors of Kevin McKidd being up for the role, the director waved it off as premature speculation. "There’s been lots of talk [about casting] — I sound like a politician — but we are too early at this stage. We’re getting the story and the visual effects together and all of that is very exciting. Someone sensational is going to play the part but it is early days." Just because Branagh hasn’t worked on a project of this scale since ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,’ fear not. This ‘Thor’ promises to be as large as the character would seem to call out for. "It’s a chance to tell a big story on a big scale," said Branagh. "It’s a human story right in the center of a big epic scenario." [MTV]
‘Twilight’ reconsidered: Are too many "Twilight" fans up past their bedtime? Sonja Bolle, who writes a monthly column called Word Play for the Los Angeles Times books pages, says that many of the hot and bothered fans of the books (and the movie) are too young to be, well, hot and bothered. She writes: "When a tide of popularity rises, it erases all boundaries. The first sign that ‘Twilight’ was a pop-culture phenomenon was that teen girls who hadn’t talked to their parents in years were dressing up with their mothers in vampire costumes and attending midnight book parties together. By last summer, when the marketing for the fourth and ostensibly final book in the series reached the proportions of hysteria (and that was a mild dress rehearsal for the movie release), it had become de rigueur for any self-respecting female reader of any age to read the books. Not only to read them, but to swoon over them, to be overwhelmed by them; to find, as 10-year-old Lyla Polon of Santa Monica wrote, ‘It’s hard for me to face the fact that [the characters] are not real.’ Much as I like the novels — and I devoured all of them happily — I’m appalled to find that a sizable number of the 25 million copies now in print are going into the hands of 10-year-olds. Why would parents whose children are not yet obsessed with sex encourage their kids to read books that are one long, bodice-ripping romance?" [Word Play, Los Angeles Times]
ON THIS DATE: Kurt Schaffenberger was born on this day in 1920 in Germany and would go on to be one of the enduring comic-book artists of his generation, working on the Captain Marvel titles at Fawcett before jumping over to DC, where he brought his high-clarity style to Superman-related titles, most notably "Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane." He died in 2002…. Today is also the 45th birthday of Helen Slater, who starred in "Supergirl" on the silver screen…. Comics writer (and television writer and musician) J. M. DeMatteis is 55 today and has tall of stack of funny-book accomplishments, among them "Moonshadow," "Brooklyn Dreams" and memorable runs on Spider-Man, Captain America and Justice League International…. Julie Taymor, the Tony-winning Broadway director now at work on "Spider-Man: The Musical," is 56 today. To celebrate, let’s all think super thoughts and sing a song in public today.
— Geoff Boucher
Credits: Brandon Lee as "The Crow," Miramax Films and the Los Angeles Times archives; Frank Miller’s Spartans from "300," Dark Horse Comics; "Twilight" image, Summit Pictures.