Is an adaptation of the classic DC Comics/Vertigo comic book series “The Sandman” finally headed to movie theaters after years of development? According to a rumor from Badass Digest, Warner Bros. is in the beginning stages of prepping a film with writer David Goyer (“Man of Steel“) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt involved in some capacity.
But first, some background. “The Sandman” ran for seventy-five issues, and detailed the epic life (and eventual death) of Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams. Often surreal, occasionally epic, and always haunting and sad, “The Sandman” has long been a gateway into the world of comics, having sold a reported 30 million copies worldwide. Recently author Neil Gaiman began revisiting the world for the 25th anniversary with a prequel comic titled “The Sandman: Overture.”
Though these are just rumors, when MTV News caught up with “The Sandman” author Neil Gaiman last week in New York City for a roundtable discussion on everything “Sandman,” he seemed surprisingly upbeat on the prospect. Perhaps because discussions were already happening behind closed doors?
“What tended to happen a lot in the ’90s was the point where Warner [Bros.] would get relatively close to making a ’Sandman’ movie, and then somebody would get realistic about the fact that the film would not be PG-13,” Gaiman said. “And that it would be incredibly big and expensive, and it would never really be made or the sequence of films that you would need to make ’Sandman’ would never get made. I think things like the ’Dark Knight’ films kind of changed that, just how big and dark you could get.”
The other reason Gaiman quoted for the rejuvenated interest in the property? The people who used to read the book are now in charge.
“When I used to go for meetings at Warner Bros., the top execs there didn’t know who or what ’Sandman’ was, and they weren’t really interested,” Gaiman continued. “But the nervous juniors who would bring me the bottles of water when I arrived, and would get me to sign their comics on the way out — they knew. They are now running the studios.”
This isn’t the first attempt to make a “Sandman” movie, either, and may end up just as scuttled as previous tries.
“In 1991, I went for a meeting with a President of Warner Bros. Pictures when ’Sandman’ was still ongoing,” Gaiman said. “She said, ’So, Sandman movie.’ And I said, ’Yeah, please don’t do it.’ She said, ’What?’ And I said, ’Yeah, it’s going to be a huge distraction, let me do my thing.’ And she said, ’Never in my entire 10 years at Warners has anyone sat at the desk and asked me not to make a movie.’ I said, ’I am,’ and she said, ’Great.’ That killed that for a few years.”
In 1996, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (“Pirates of the Carribbean”) did a draft of the script, with Roger Avary (“Pulp Fiction”) signed to direct. “That started going south about the time Avary showed Jan Svankmajer’s ’Alice’ to the studio, and said The Dreaming [Morpheus’ home] would feel a bit like that. He was asked to pack his desk and leave,” Gaiman said with a laugh.
This was followed by a version written by Jon Peters (“Batman,” “Superman Lives”) that Gaiman calls, “bad enough that I had to more or less throw myself under a bus, and kill that.”
According to Gaiman, though, we’re far from those times when movies like ’Howard the Duck’ could get released. “Someone is going to come along for whom ’The Sandman’ is as important as ’Spider-Man’ was to Sam Raimi or ’Lord of the Rings’ was to Peter Jackson,” Gaiman said. “People whose point of view is, they were put on this Earth to make this thing, and they will make it.”
It certainly can’t be worse than the 1998 version, which had the first line, “’As if your puny weapons could harm me, the mighty lord of dreams. The Sandman,’ ” Gaiman quoted from the script. “He attempts to throw a punch and fly, and falls down. And it just got worse from there. I’m glad that never got made.”
Whether he thinks Gordon-Levitt has adequate cheekbones is yet to be known, but regardless of whether the Goyer/Gordon-Levitt version gets farther than rumors, Gaiman is hopeful.
“A ’Sandman’ movie is going to be too expensive for anyone to make a lousy movie at this point,” Gaiman said. “But I also hope when they make a movie it won’t be safe, whatever it is.”
We can only dream.