Neil Gaiman On The Evolution Of The SANDMAN Movie: As Bad As HOWARD THE DUCK At Times

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sandmanNeil Gaiman‘s Sandman took a while to find its audience when it was first published, but over the years it has become a seminal achievement in the comic book world, ranking up their with the likes of Watchmen. The series has gained in popularity pretty much every year since the original run finished. That’s part of the reason Gaiman wanted to write Sandman: Overture to tell what happened to the titular character that caused him to be so easily captured in the first issue. While fans are happy to see a prequel being published, many are still holding out hope for a movie. There have been attempts over the years, but nothing ever clicked. Gaiman recently talked about the changing nature of the Sandman movie over the years at a recent press event in New York to celebrate 25 years of Sandman.

sandman 1There have been attempts to make a Sandman movie as far back as 1991, but they were scrapped for numerous reasons. Sometimes Gaiman put a stop to it, other times the script was just so terribly bad the entire thing was scrapped. The acclaimed writer talked about the movie struggle over the last 20 odd years (via CBR):

You know, for years and years, it wasn’t [a possibility]. What tended to happen a lot in the ’90s, was the point where Warners would get relatively close to making a “Sandman” movie, and then somebody would get relatively realistic about the fact that the film would not be PG-13, really, and that it would be incredibly big and expensive, and that meant that it could never really be made — or the sequence of films that you would need to tell The Sandman would never get made. I think things like the Dark Knight films kind of changed that, just how dark and how big you could get. And I also think that the fact that, when I used to go for meetings at Warner Brothers, the top execs there didn’t really know who or what “Sandman” was, and they weren’t really interested. But the nervous juniors that would actually bring me the bottles of water when I arrived and would get me to sign their comics on the way out — they knew. They are now running the studios, all of those people. We didn’t move — the mainstream came to us.
With “Sandman,” now, it is rare that I run into a director who doesn’t want to do “Sandman.” I know, I’m at the point — in 1991, I went for a meeting with a President of Warner Brothers Pictures, when “Sandman” was still ongoing, and she said, “So, ‘Sandman’ movie!” And I said, “Yeah, please don’t do it.” She said, “What?” I said, “Look, I’m writing ‘Sandman,’ it’s going to be a huge distraction — can we just let me do my thing?” And she said, “Never in my entire tenure at Warners has anybody ever sat at the desk and asked me not to make a movie.” I said, “Well, I am,” and she said, “OK, we won’t make the movie,” and I said, “Great!” So that killed that for a few years.

Gaiman gives very in depth answers to questions, and the rest of what follows is still continuing on from his original thought. I’ve just broken it up for your reading convenience and to let some of the sections breath. Gaiman talked about two attempts that he’s glad he was able to put a stop to:

Then, in 1996, [Ted] Elliott and [Terry] Rossio did a script, Roger Avary was signed up to direct it — that started going south about the point that Roger showed Jan Švankmajer’s “Alice” to the higher-ups at Warners and explained that the stuff in the Dreaming would feel a bit like that. And he was asked to pack his desk and leave. [Laughs]
It’s true! And then Jon Peters was working on the script, and versions of the Peters script got bad enough that at one point, I more or less had to throw myself under a bus and kill that. It was terrible. Now, I don’t think we’re in that world. What I’ve been saying for the last five or ten years is that sooner or later someone is going to come along for whom “The Sandman” is as important as “Spider-Man” was to Sam Raimi, or “Lord Of The Rings” was to Peter Jackson. It’s these people who, their point of view is, they were put on this Earth to make this thing. And they will make it. All I hope is — I think it’s inevitable, is where I’m going with this. I hope it’s good.

sandmanThe author still holds out hope for a Sandman movie in the future though. He says it was Howard the Duck levels of bad at times, but we’re in a golden age of comic book movies where it could be translated well to the big or small screen. He even throws out names like Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston for the Dream Lord:

But I think we’re getting to the point where — the era of “Howard The Duck” is long way behind us. We hope. On the other hand, that 1998 script, which began, his first line was, “As if your puny weapons could harm me, the mighty lord of dreams, The Sandman,” and then he attempts to throw a punch and fly — and falls down. And it just got worse from there. I’m glad that never got made. That could have been a Howard The Duck if it had been. So, A) I think it’s inevitable, B), I hope it happens when the time is right. I think a Sandman movie is going to be too expensive for anybody to make a lousy movie at this point. But I also kind of hope that when they do make a movie, it won’t be safe, whatever it is.
And [a TV adaptation] would be cool too. I would absolutely watch the HBO “Sandman.” On the other hand, I would happily watch Tom Hiddleston or Benedict Cumberbatch as the Dream Lord in the movie. Or somebody else, who’s yet to graduate — as long as they’ve got good cheekbones!

There are no shortage of writers and directors that have been talking to Gaiman about making a movie, so it seems like it’s only a matter of time before something actually happens. With DC starting to really ramp up production of their comic book properties, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that a movie or TV series could see the light of day. You can read a whole lot more from Gaiman about writing at the source link. What do you think about Gaiman‘s comments? If/when it actually happens, would you rather have a movie or a TV series?

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Source : ComicBookResources