Joseph Gordon-Levitt has just posted a message to his fans announcing his departure from the feature film adaptation of Sandman, which he had been set to direct and star in.
"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," he wrote on his official Facebook page. "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."
Wow! This is indeed a very shocking development. Just yesterday, it was reported that screenwriter Eric Heisserer (2010's A Nightmare on Elm Street, 2011's The Thing) was brought in to work on a new script for Sandman. Maybe Sandman truly is the unfilmable property that many of its fans frequently say it is.
The Sandman was a series that helped define Vertigo Comics. Told by Gaiman and a long list of comics' best artists of the era, the series followed Morpheus, the embodiment of Dream, as he navigated his place in the universe and his relationships, both to the mortal world and to his family of fellow conceptual personifications, the Endless. It took Gaiman 75 issues to complete his serialized story.