After years of waiting from fans, a live-action adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Sandman is officially coming to fruition. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has signed "a massive financial deal" with Warner Bros. Television to adapt Sandman into a television show. While it's unclear exactly what the numbers of the deal are, sources claim that it is DC Entertainment's most expensive TV series yet.
Gaiman will executive-produce the television adaptation, alongside David Goyer. Wonder Woman writer Allan Heinberg will write and serve as showrunner. It is unclear exactly how many episodes the straight-to-series order is for, or when exactly the television series is expected to debut. The report claims that the Netflix deal will partially "provide a financial windfall" to Warner Bros., as opposed to placing the series on its upcoming streaming service.
Sandman focuses on Morpheus, aka Dream of the Endless. Dream is one of seven siblings representing the major forces of the universe, the others being Destiny, Death, Destruction, Despair, Desire, and Delirium. After decades spent in captivity, Dream reemerges to find his kingdom, the plane known as the Dreaming, in ruins. He must rebuild and in doing so reexamine his role in the universe.
This marks the end of a decades-long attempt to adapt Sandman in some form or fashion, beginning with a potential feature film in the 1990s. The project went through a slew of various scripts and iterations, before officially falling into "development hell" in 2001. Gaiman became pretty public about the issues with the various Sandman scripts and about being unsure if an adaptation would ever properly see the light of day.
"I'd rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie." Gaiman said during a 2007 Comic-Con panel. "But I feel like the time for a Sandman movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same obsession with the source material as Peter Jackson had with Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi had with Spider-Man."
The potential for a Sandman adaptation kicked back up in 2013, when Gaiman, Goyer, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were announced to be collaborating on a script for New Line. After years of potential updates, Gordon-Levitt left the project in 2016, and it continued to be stuck in development hell.
"I … 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," Eric Heisserer, the last screenwriter attached to the New Line film, told iO9 in 2016. "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."
A television adaptation of the series had also previously been considered since 2010, with James Mangold and Supernatural creator Eric Kripke both being involved at one point in time. The closest that fans got was Fox's Lucifer, a loose adaptation of the character from the Sandman series (which has since become a Netflix original series).
Gaiman, who recently served as showrunner on Amazon's adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, was asked about the possibility of a Sandman adaptation earlier this year.
“The Endless are owned by DC Comics/Time Warner and not by me,” Gaiman explained in March. “[Good Omens] getting made, Terry [Pratchett] and I owned it, so we could control where it went. I think as the days go on, as the years go on, the probability that a Sandman thing will happen, obviously, increase continually. But I have no say in anything".
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