Sometimes casting rumors just sound wrong. In this case it's Mark Wahlberg as the title character in a remake of 'The Crow.' Wahlberg doesn't need 'The Crow' on his resume and 'The Crow' doesn't need a star like Wahlberg. People are either going to see 'The Crow' remake/re-launch or they aren't (I lean toward "aren't"). Star power doesn't mean anything in this instance.
It didn't really mean anything the first time out in 1994. Brandon Lee was an action-movie nobody at the time of filming, and while his death brought extra attention to the movie, few bought a ticket because of Lee's acting. The movie was sold on a pretty great trailer, a strong soundtrack, and a trace amount of morbid curiosity (more on that in a bit). The film looked especially unique at the time, and audiences responded strongly.
'The Crow' is a damaged goods franchise and has been since 1996, when 'The Crow: City of Angels' sank like a stone in the late Summer box office doldrums. The first movie was thin enough, but the second one shaved its appeal even more by removing any of the original's humanity. There was no Ernie Hudson-type character to keep things grounded, and even the cute kid Sarah from the first one, who shares a likable relationship with Lee's undead superhero, is re-invented in the sequel as a gothic glamour girl.
'The Crow's' source material (from comic creator James O'Barr) is raw, angry, intensely personal and not at all franchise-friendly, which is probably why the franchise flat-out failed. 'The Crow: Salvation,' though better than 'City of Angels' by leaps and bounds, was cursed to go direct-to-video due to 'City of Angels' poor box office showing. It was followed in short order by 'The Crow: Wicked Prayer' (with Edward Furlong and Tara Reid) and a forgettable television series (starring Mark Dacascos, reprising Lee's character, Eric Draven).
There are deeper things at work in the original movie that caused it to click with audiences, and that's the unintentional added weight of seeing a deceased actor, accidentally killed before the film's release, play a character who is also dead from frame one and resurrected only to keep fighting. There's something satisfying about Lee returning from the dead in a literal sense and getting career justice, while watching his character's quest for justice play out in a completely unrealistic way on screen. There's no doubt that Lee would have moved upwards and onwards had 'The Crow' been a hit while he was still alive, and the movie serves as vindication for a b-movie actor that never knew this type of punctuation mark would be put on his own talents.
If producer Ed Pressman wants to continue to line his pockets with money from 'The Crow,' then he'd be better off capitalizing on nostalgia for the 1994 film. Release a stuffed-with-features blu-ray or a re-mastered soundtrack. Make a new line of 'Crow" t-shirts for Hot Topic. How about some of those $300 action figures from Sideshow? Audiences aren't clamoring for more Crow adventures. They never were.
My hope is that Mark Wahlberg realizes this and steers clear. I don't know what events led director Stephen Norrington to step away from the new 'Crow,' but it feels like a smart move. Wahlberg's career is in a precarious place. He's got a lot of audience goodwill built up over the years, and rightfully so, for things like 'Boogie Nights' and 'The Departed,' but he also doesn't need another 'The Happening' or 'Max Payne.' He's not a guaranteed draw right now, 'The Crow' is definitely not a guaranteed draw right now, and the combination of the two doesn't fill me with hope. It's time 'The Crow' rests in peace.