“Creative differences” is a term you hear quite often nowadays. In 2014, Edgar Wright and Marvel stirred up a chunky stew of controversy when Wright unexpectedly quit Ant Man’s production. Marvel’s bigger plans for its Cinematic Universe supposedly clashed with Wright’s ambition of making a Cornetto-style superhero film. Last year, creative differences also reportedly turned Rupert Wyatt away from directing 20th Century Fox’s Gambit movie. It’s pretty much needless to say that the ambitions of filmmakers don’t always sync up with what studios feel is better for business. Directors aren’t the only ones turned off by studio demands though. Actors are just as capable of packing their bags and abandoning a film’s production that they once had faith in.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt recently announced on his Facebook page that he is officially exiting the film adaptation of the Sandman comic series. Gordon-Levitt was set to co-produce the film with Man of Steel writer David S. Goyer. The original series centered around a powerful being named Dream who serves as the lord of all stories and (of course) dreams. A film adaptation has been in the works since the 1990’s. However, like many comic book adaptations, the project has been subjected to decades of development hell. Gordon-Levitt’s departure is just the latest stage of this hell.
According to Gordon-Levitt, Warner Brothers shifted the film rights of Vertigo Comics (an imprint of DC) to their subsidiary company, New Line. The suits at New Line apparently disagreed with Gordon-Levitt on how to adapt the character for the big screen, leading to Gordon-Levitt exiting the production.
Levitt said of his departure:
“So unfortunately, I decided to remove myself from the project. I wish nothing but the best for the team moving forward.”
He went on to say that he was thankful for having the chance to work on the project with DC. He said:
“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.”
It’s pretty clear that creative differences between filmmaker is a much bigger problem than it needs to be. After Josh Trank’s disagreements (and overall unprofessional behavior) got him booted off Fant4stic, look what happened when the studio took full control of the film; they ran it into the ground. If it wasn’t for creative people, executives would basically be running around like wealthy chickens with their heads cut off trying to make good movies to no success. Perhaps executives should look at how many talented people voluntarily quit their productions and become less anally retentive about how to tell a story.