Columbia Nabs Rights For ‘Preacher’ Film, Sam Mendes To Direct

Just as fans were slowly accepting the fact that “Preacher” — Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion’s highly-controversial comic series that took on everything from organized religion to shady government agencies — was DOA at HBO, along comes news that the option has once again been picked up, this time by Columbia Pictures, who intends to make the property into a full-length feature film. A “Preacher Feature,” if you will (ba-dum-dum!).

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Columbia has picked up the option and pegged Sam Mendes to direct. Neal Moritz’s Original Films banner will produce alongside Kickstart Prods.’ Jason Netter.

“Preacher,” a longtime member of the “Impossible to Film” club (along with former member, “Watchmen”) has had a storied history of big studios picking up the option and quickly discovering that, for various reasons, the property was either too epic or too violent for film. Mark Steven Johnson, who’d been rumored to be onboard as director of the HBO series, claimed HBO execs were concerned about the over-the-top brutality of the original comic series and asked it to be toned down, to which Johnson disagreed. Kevin Smith’s View Askew got as far as the casting stage (with James Marsden rumored to play the lead role of Rev. Jesse Custer) until the deal inevitably fell through.

Currently, there are no screenwriters attached to the project, but according to THR, Mendes — who already has some geek-cred under his belt with his work on 2002’s “Road to Perdition” — will be on the prowl for potential writers as he wraps up post-production on “Revolutionary Road,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

“Preacher” is the story of Jesse Custer, a small town, alcoholic preacher who one day becomes blessed/cursed with “The Word” — basically, the word of God, which when used, makes whoever it is used against do whatever Custer commands. Joined by an Irish vampire named Cassaday and his sexy hitman — er, hitwoman girlfriend, Tulip, the three set off on a quest to find the Almighty, who they’ve learned has shunned his responsibilities in the kingdom of Heaven and caused chaos around the world. If you haven’t had a chance to read this groundbreaking series, seriously, stop what you’re doing and get to a bookstore NOW and pick it up — you won’t be disappointed.

Glad to hear this new, “Preacher” fans? Think “Preacher” is in good hands with Mendes on board to direct? Talk to us in the comments.