The live-action version of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comics has had a long and rocky road, starting its life as TV series until development on that series stalled. It was then reborn as a movie, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt attached as director and originally rumored to star in it as well.
The movie was dealt a heavy blow, however, when Gordon-Levitt announced yesterday that he was dropping out of the project, citing creative differences with New Line Studios, who took over the development of all Vertigo Comics franchises from Warner Bros. He praised his coworkers on the way out, and Gaiman in particular, “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.” Now Gaiman has returned the favor.
Taking to , Gaiman offered his own praise of Gordon-Levitt (whose Twitter handle is @hitRECordJoe), which would seem to indicate that the two are on good terms with each other despite the parting of ways on this particular project. “For the record, my respect for @hitRECordJoe, is undiminished,” Gaiman said. “Getting to know him was the best bit of the last round. He’s special.”
In a response to a fan tweeting that they hoped Gaiman and Gordon-Levitt would find a way to work together on another project, Gaiman said he shared the sentiment, saying, “I very much hope so. I would love to work with @hitRECordJoe some more. He’s smart, honest & really nice.”
The close working relationship between the two was part of what made fans hopeful that they might actually pull off a movie adaptation worthy of its source material. Unfortunately, the final product is out of their hands as it is the studio that ultimately decides the direction of the film. Gaiman spent several tweets explaining how the rights to the character work, and how those rights mean that he does not have much of a say when it comes to the movie:
“Reminder for the curious: I don’t own SANDMAN. @DCComics does. I don’t choose who writes scripts, the director, producer or cast. I didn’t lose them: I never owned them. The deal was done when I was 26, long ago, & I figured it was worth it. For me, what’s important is the 2,500 pages of SANDMAN, not a movie that may or may not ever happen.“
Gaiman isn’t totally disinterested in the cinematic future of Sandman, though. When asked if he worried about the “quality of the movie” and the possibility that it might damage the character he created, Gaiman cited one of comic book fandom’s most well-known flops:
“If it was bad enough, yes. Howard the Duck was once a critically acclaimed comic, then it became a bad movie…”
How their creation is handled once it gets out of their hands is no doubt a touchy subject for anyone in the comic book industry. Elektra creator Frank Miller recently stated he would not be watching Netflix’s Daredevil series to see their take on the character, since “once I’ve worked on a character, it’s hard to see any other way than my way.” There is still hope that New Line’s vision for The Sandman, while differing from Gordon-Levitt’s, will do right by the character in the end, but right now that outcome is looking a little less likely.
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