The film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's acclaimed comic, The Sandman, has certainly been through the wringer. In fact, it's been through the wringer ever since the '90s when Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary was first attached to direct. Obviously, nothing ever came of that iteration of the story, and the film project fell through several hands before it landed in the joint lap of David S. Goyer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2013.
As Gordon-Levitt is with most projects, he was outwardly enthusiastic about bringing that comic to the big screen. For a few years, every six months, Gordon-Levitt would give an update on the movie, pretty much saying, they were working on the script. In March of this year, however, it was reported that Eric Heisserer will be doing another rewrite on script, and the very next day, Gordon-Levitt officially dropped out of the project.
Since that bombshell, things have been pretty silent. Two movies from writer Eric Heisserer have since come out -- Lights Out and Arrival (both to critical acclaim) -- and as far as we knew, he was pounding away at his keyboard, doing his best to fit a square peg into a round hole with The Sandman.
In an interview with io9, Heisserer pretty much announced that he'd given up on trying to adapt the story to film, and thinks it would be a much better fit on TV.
"I had many conversations with Neil [Gaiman] 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. So I talked myself out of a job!"
I think we've just stumbled upon one hell of a silver lining in the midst of bad news. TV isn't a place stories go to die anymore. In fact, it's a place that's widely being taken advantage of in the best way possible. As great as films are for a single, cohesive experience, TV is where it's at for long form storytelling. Additionally, American Gods, another Gaiman property, is in the process of getting the TV treatment on Starz. If that series is to garner success, could this potentially be the next big TV series?
In the right hands, The Sandman could be a great cable channel or Netflix show. There's no doubt it'd be an ambitious undertaking, but if there's ever been an age where a series like this is possible, it's now.
This wasn't all Heisserer had to say about the project. Given the timing of Gordon-Levitt's departure from the project, some assumed that it was the hiring of the screenwriter that prompted Gordon-Levitt's exit. That wasn't the case. Heisserer clarified that Gordon-Levitt “quietly left” around “seven months before I came on… So it looked like I was responsible for that leave when in fact I had nothing to do with that.”
What do you make of this news? Are you happy to hear about Heisserer giving up on the project? Do you think this will prompt New Line to take a new approach with the property, or do you expect they'll bring on another writer to try and adapt it to the big screen? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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