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Joseph Gordon-Levitt quits The Sandman movie, dammit

JGL and New Line disagreed on what made The Sandman special

Sandman-movie

Yesterday we reported that The Sandman movie had found a new writer, with Eric Heisserer stepping in for Jack Thorne. Today, well, it’s going to need a new director and star, as Joseph Gordon-Levitt has stepped away from the Neil Gaiman adaptation.

In a long post on his Facebook page, the star of Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and 500 Days Of Summer quite politely explained that, following the project’s shift from Warner Bros to New Line, there was a difference of opinions that meant he felt most comfortable leaving.

Here’s the post in full, which manages to be respectful while conveying the fact that yes, it’s definitely creative differences.

“RE: SANDMAN

So, as you might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, a while back, David Goyer and I made a producing deal with Warner Brothers to develop a movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN. Neil himself came on as an executive producer, we hired the excellent screenwriter, Jack Thorne, and we started in on the ambitious task of adapting one of the most beloved and boundary-pushing titles in the world of comics. I was pleased with the progress we were making, even though we still had quite a ways to go.

Recently, as you also might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, the sorta “ownership” (for lack of a better term) of the Sandman material changed hands when Warner Brothers shifted the entire catalogue of Vertigo comics (an imprint of DC) to their subsidiary, New Line. And a few months ago, I came to realize that the folks at New Line and I just don’t see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special, and what a film adaptation could/should be. So unfortunately, I decided to remove myself from the project. I wish nothing but the best for the team moving forward.

I’d like to thank all the great people I’ve had the opportunity to work with on this one. 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. And it’s been a particular privilege as well as a rocking good time getting to know Mr. Gaiman, whose generous insights and masterful work have certainly convinced me that the Lord of Dreams and the Prince of Stories are one and the same Endless pattern.”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is stepping away from The Sandman
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is stepping away from The Sandman

This is very disappointing, and not simply because the story we put on the site yesterday stated that we were happy as long as he was still involved.

Gordon-Levitt seemed to be the driving force behind getting a film version of The Sandman moving again. The respect with which he treated the comic was evident, and tweets between him and Gaiman last night make it clear that, even though Gaiman no longer owns the film rights to the comic and has no say in its production, there was definitely collaboration and respect.

So what now? We’ll have to wait and see what New Line’s reaction to Gordon-Levitt’s departure is, but given that they’ve just hired a new writer, we assume that the hunt for a new director is on. That quote about not seeing eye to eye on what makes The Sandman special gives us a bit of a chill though…

As Gaiman has pointed out several times, a film version of The Sandman has been on again and off again for decades now, as a litany of filmmakers have tried to adapt it. We had almost believed that this version would actually happen, and we were getting excited about it, but while we’re disappointed, it’s worth remembering what the author has said:

So we should all use this as an excuse to break out Preludes And Nocturnes again…

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