One of the most successful comic series in the past fifty years, Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman has won numerous awards and accolades, inspired a range of spin-offs and garnered an enormous cult following that continues to grow by the day, despite the comics now being nearly thirty years old. In 2005, IGN declared Sandman the best Vertigo comic ever published. The spin-off television series, Lucifer, was renewed for a second season in April this year. Despite meeting with the kind of success that most comic creators can only dream of, Sandman has still not been made into a feature film.
But not for lack of trying.
Warner Bros has been talking about making a film adaptation of Sandman since the late 1990s and many plans were made throughout the years, with writers and actors and artists involved in the process. But though the adaptation is something that a lot of people have been on board with for a long time, nothing ever came of it. After a full decade of struggle, in 2007 Gaiman commented that he’d “rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie”.
But the idea lingered and people have still been pushing the project fowards, little by little. David S Goyer got involved in 2013, as did Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gordon-Levitt has since dropped out. A script was written by Jack Thorne and, in 2015, Eric Heisserer was brought in to revise it.
The film has now hit yet another snag as Heisserer has also backed out of the project, claiming he doesn’t think the series is suitable movie material.
“I had many conversations with Neil on this, and I did a lot of work on the feature and came to the conclusion that the best version of this property exists as an HBO series or limited series, not as a feature film, not even as a trilogy. The structure of the feature film really doesn’t mesh with this. So I went back and said here’s the work that I’ve done. This isn’t where it should be. It needs to go to TV.”
Heisserer isn’t the first person involved to have this idea. In fact, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros Television have been considering a focus on a television adaptation since 2010, even going so far as to consider putting into the hands of Supernatural creator Eric Kripke. But after discussions with Neil Gaiman and DC, the project was put on hold because “it didn’t feel quite right” and attention shifted back to the movie.
While this news doesn’t mean the end for the movie or the revival of the television adaptation, it does mean that the wait for either will be a little bit longer.