Back in December of 2013 it was reported that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was set to produce and possibly even star in and direct a movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s comic book series The Sandman for Warner Brothers. The project was then moved from Warner Brothers to their smaller sister studio New Line Cinema in June of last year.
This apparently wasn’t the best move if you were excited about Gordon-Levitt’s involvement in the movie, as it’s now being reported that he has walked away from the adaptation after a disagreement with New Line. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
You can see what Gordon-Levitt had to say about the decision below, as well as Gaiman’s response.
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.
Many of you likely remember and are still pained by the memory of what happened with the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s It. That movie was also set up at Warner Brothers with Beasts of No Nation and True Detective season one director Cary Fukunaga attached to direct, which had many ultra excited. Then it moved to New Line and things…well, they did not work out, unfortunately.
Just before Gordon-Levitt departed Sandman, a new writer was hired by New Line in Eric Heisserer. Heisserer worked on the screenplays for 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot, Final Destination 5, and 2011’s The Thing prequel/remake.
He also wrote and directed 2013’s Hours starring Paul Walker. Upcoming projects he’s worked on include Van Helsing, which is part of Universal’s reboot of their Classic Monsters franchises, and Story of Your Life from Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel director Denis Villeneuve.
Neil Gaiman responded to Gordon-Levitt’s decision on Twitter, followed by a response from Gordon-Levitt himself:
.@neilhimself Deepest thanks, kind sir. I sincerely hope we find another way to collaborate sooner than later..