Joseph Gordon-Levitt drops out of SANDMAN adaptation

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Well, this doesn’t bode well.

I’ll be honest in that I had very little faith that Neil Gaiman’s epic graphic novel series Sandman could ever be adapted for a single movie. The only reason I had any faith at all – as minuscule as it was – was the attachment of the incredibly talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt as producer and possible director and star. That faith just flew off to Dreamland.

Taking to his Facebook page on Saturday night, Gordon-Levitt has revealed that after being attached to it for years now, he is dropping out of the project due to creative differences between himself and New Line, the new rights-holders for the material.

“So, as you might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, a while back, David Goyer and I made a producing deal with Warner Brothers to develop a movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN. Neil himself came on as an executive producer, we hired the excellent screenwriter, Jack Thorne, and we started in on the ambitious task of adapting one of the most beloved and boundary-pushing titles in the world of comics. I was pleased with the progress we were making, even though we still had quite a ways to go.

“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.

“I’d like to thank all the great people I’ve had the opportunity to work with on this one. I’ve had a blast with and learned a ton from David and Jack. Niija Kuykendall, Greg Silverman, and everyone at Warner Brothers have been fantastic, as have Geoff Johns and everyone at DC. And it’s been a particular privilege as well as a rocking good time getting to know Mr. Gaiman, whose generous insights and masterful work have certainly convinced me that the Lord of Dreams and the Prince of Stories are one and the same Endless pattern.”

Gordon-Levitt appeared to have a genuine love and affinity for Gaiman’s epic mythological tale, and seemed to want to do it proper justice, so I would love to know how his vision differed from that of New Line.

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Strangely enough, this disagreement in creative direction actually should have become apparent the day before Gordon-Levitt’s Facebook post, as on Friday afternoon it was revealed that New Line had brought on Eric Heisserer (The Conjuring 2, Final Destination 5, A Nightmare On Elm Street) as a new writer for the project. There was no mention in the reports of Jack Thorne, whom Gordon-Levitt had been working with to pen the script initially.

Sandman has been in development for so long now already, and is already such an impossible task to adapt, that I think they should really just throw in the towel on this now. What do you guys think?

Last Updated: March 7, 2016

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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