There have been multiple plans for a movie based on The Sandman, the seminal Vertigo comic series from acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman and top artistic talents ranging from Sam Kieth to J.H. Williams III. The latest attempt came from actor Joseph Gordon Levitt, who ultimately left the project alongside Oscar-winning screenwriter Eric Heisserer due to disagreements with the studio over the creative direction of the project. Now it sounds like one of the most difficult creative obstacles to overcome is Gaiman himself, who apparently doesn't want a movie based on his Sandman comics to come to fruition.
"I think a lot of the problems with adapting Sandman were that it was somewhat ahead of its time in terms of what it would have demanded from the world," Gaiman revealed. "I remember having my first meeting about a Sandman movie in, I think, 1990, and going in for a meeting at Warner's, and they said, 'Well, what do you think about a Sandman movie?' And I said, 'Please don't do it.' And I remember the Warner's exec, Lisa Henson, looking at me very puzzled and saying, 'Nobody's ever come into my office and asked me not to make a movie before.' And I said, 'Well, I am. Please don't. I'm working on the comic, and a movie would just be a distraction and a confusion. Just let me do my thing.' And bless everybody, they kind of let me get on with it."
Gaiman went on to explain the process of doing an audiobook adaptation, which seemed less likely after the decline of cassettes and the rise of CDs — but was then restored with the debut of the iPod and digital music players.
Now Sandman is currently in development with Netflix, and Gaiman is adamant that this is an ideal medium to adapt his comic book.
"People would write Sandman movie scripts and they go, 'But it's an R-rated movie, and we can't have $100 million R-rated movie.' So, that wouldn't happen. You needed to get to a world in which long form storytelling is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. And the fact that we have certainly five issues of Sandman plus, essentially, 13 full books worth of material, is a really good thing. It's not a drawback. It's on our side. And the fact that we're in a world in which we can take things that only existed in comic book art, and that can now exist in reality."