At the recent Cinequest Film Festival, author Neil Gaiman spoke with cautious optimism about the Sandman adaptation currently in the works at Warner Bros., one that he has no direct control over.
Unlike many other film adaptations of Gaiman’s work like Coraline, American Gods, or Stardust, Gaiman does not own the rights to the characters or story of The Sandman. Like the majority of comics artists working within established comics universes, he completed his work for the groundbreaking series under a work for hire contract that does not allow writers or artists to retain control over original characters or designs. As a writer of many books and comics that fans would love to see realized on screen, Gaiman is open about how he’s reached a point in his career, professionally and financially, that he can say no if a studio or team has a take on his work that doesn’t do it justice. I suspect, for example, that this is one of the reasons why American Gods has been so slow to reach screens.
But the only thing standing between Sandman and the silver screen is Warner Bros.’ intentions, so how does Gaiman view the impending adaptation? “There was a saying when I was a kid in Sussex,” he told the Cinequest audience, “‘I’ve lived too near the woods too long to be frightened by an owl.’ Right now there is exciting ‘Sandman’ stuff happening, but I can’t help thinking that I’ve been here before.” But he also gave the movie’s creative team, as it stands now, some compliments:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of all people, is an enormous ‘Sandman’ fan. He and David Goyer talked about it, they’ve come up, I believe, with a treatment of what they want the story of the first movie to be. They are talking to an incredible writer [Jack Thorne], who I coincidentally already knew, because he did the movie script for The Ocean at the End of the Lane, so I’ve met him and loved his treatment of my work. And Wednesday afternoon I will be spending with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and talking Sandman! That’s pretty much everything I know. Now you know as much as I know.
The story of the “first movie,” eh? That’s promising indeed.
(via Comic Book Resources.)