A Sandman movie was announced almost two and a half years ago but has languished in production hell ever since. In October, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice screenwriter David S. Goyer gave those of us still waiting and excited about the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic comic book series hope that something would finally be happening with the movie, with possible production beginning this year.
Unfortunately, just days after a new writer was officially announced, anticipated star and possible director of The Sandman Joseph Gordon-Levitt has dropped out of the project. Gordon-Levitt has been a believer in the movie since the beginning, having signed on to produce when The Sandman was first announced in 2013.
Like most behind-the-scenes Hollywood debacles, no one is saying much. Gordon-Levitt took to Facebook Saturday, essentially citing creative differences for his departure from The Sandman. He wrote, “Recently, as you also might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, the sorta ‘ownership’ (for lack of a better term) of the Sandman material changed hands when Warner Brothers shifted the entire catalogue of Vertigo comics (an imprint of DC) to their subsidiary, New Line. And a few months ago, I came to realize that the folks at New Line and I just don’t see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special, and what a film adaptation could/should be. So unfortunately, I decided to remove myself from the project. I wish nothing but the best for the team moving forward.”
Although Gordon-Levitt makes it sound as if the movie will still be moving forward, there are some doubts about that. Neil Gaiman famously said that he’d rather no Sandman movie get made than a bad one, and when the chance for a TV series adaptation with Supernatural’s Eric Kripke came up, Gaiman (and DC Comics) ultimately turned it down.
Gaiman responded to the news that Gordon-Levitt was leaving on Twitter but didn’t indicate whether he was satisfied with the project or not, stating, “For the record, my respect for [Joseph Gordon-Levitt], is undiminished. Getting to know him was the best bit of the last round. He’s special.”
If the Sandman movie does move forward, it will be through writer Eric Heisserer, whose involvement with the project was announced Friday. Heisserer is largely known for his horror work, including Final Destination 5 and the remakes of The Thing and A Nightmare on Elm Street. New Line hopes to make the project a trilogy.
Since The Sandman was announced in 2013, DC Comics has succeeded in bringing a Lucifer television adaptation to our screens. The show is based on Gaiman’s version of Lucifer from The Sandman but changed in many ways on its road to procedural cop show. Currently airing on Fox, Lucifer has received mixed reviews but solid ratings. Fox also produced Constantine, a TV show that ran for one season and followed DC Comics’s John Constantine, who appeared in several issues of The Sandman.
Clearly, DC Comics wants to make use of its Vertigo line with iZombie and Preacher adaptations also part of this TV season and a possible Y: The Last Man series in the works. A Sandman movie would fit in with these plans, so it’s entirely likely the movie is still on track. However, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was interested in keeping The Sandman in line with Neil Gaiman’s original vision. Hopefully, his disagreements with New Line don’t indicate that a Sandman movie is something we don’t actually want to see.