Oi vey! My heart! Gotta sit down. The long, long LOOOOOOONG rumored Sandman movie is underway yet again, this time with Joseph Gordon-Levitt set to produce. Deadline had the details but JGL tweeted his involvement:

The little #prelude hashtag indicates this would adapt “Preludes and Nocturnes” the first Sandman volume, a rather straightforward (by the series’ standards) tale of Morpheus battling an evil modern occultist.

Goyer, a Hollywood/Comic book workhorse who co-plotted the Batman series and Man of Steel among may other things, has been working on a Sandman treatment for a while. Creator Neil Gaiman has also written a script, although where that fits in with the many stops and starts for this beloved story is anyone’s guess. Directors James Mangold and Eric Kripke has previously taken a crack at it, at one point Roger Avary was going to direct it, and once a writer named William Farmer turned in a version that Gaiman called “one of the worst scripts I’ve ever seen.” (If you are able to decipher Moriarty/Drew McWeeny’s feverish As I Lay Dying account, more details of that version are here.)

The current deal will see Gordon-Levitt producing, and most probably starring and directing. Badass Digest had this story a few weeks ago, with more purported detail:

Trusted sources tell me that David Goyer has pitched Warner Bros a take on Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s career-defining comic, and the studio has been very receptive. Geoff Johns, DC’s Hollywood man, is very behind Goyer’s version. And what’s more, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is involved, almost certainly intending to play Morpheus, the lead character. Levitt’s gonna deny this, just like he’s denied a lot of other stuff that was true, by the way. 

Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon, which he directed and starred in, opened to good reviews and tepid box office earlier this year. To say taking on Sandman would be a giant step up would be the understatement of the year.

Gaiman has yet to comment, but he did retweet JGL’s tweets above, so that constitutes some approval.

Sandman and Watchmen are K2 and Annapurna of comics/movies adaptations, with years of development stops and starts as the howling gusts of fan expectations and studio misunderstandings blow potential teams right off the face of the mountains. Watchmen eventually got made with incredible scrutiny and mixed results. I think even in the four years since Zack Snyder’s Watchmen came out, fan/audiences/studios are a bit more relaxed about comic book movies, since one comes out every five minutes and they tend to make money WHEN PROPERLY MADE, as Marvel has shown. Gordon-Levitt is an immensely talented performer who would certainly bring a great physicality to the brooding Morpheus, and WB wants to get him locked down to something so…we’ll see. It all depends on the script. Just like always.


  1. Noooooooooo!!!!!!! (To be fair to all involved, that was my exact thought on a Sandman movie in the 90s when it was first rumored; I’ve only added exclamation points since. Given the difficulty in making, like, decent movies based on a cowboy with a scar, for example, or a British magician, I’m kinda terrified of ANY movie based on a DC comic, let alone one THIS complex).

  2. Unlike Caleb, I feel a bit better about this announcement. First, there’s lots of comic book people involved, including Gaiman himself and Geoff Johns. Secondly, studios are more aware that it’s less risky to put money behind a good comic book movie these days because people are open to it. Neil also has a fairly decent track record behind his films, so there’s almost an added proof that it’ll work. No, it won’t match the comics. But it could be a cool flick on its own and it’d be great to see Morpheus on screen.

  3. Aside from a few special effects, Preludes and Nocturnes would be inexpensive to produce.

    Granted, it would Rated R (although having the horror of the cafe offscreen to make it PG-13 would be more effective).

    Me, I’m waiting for “Proposition Player”.

  4. Neil Gaiman commented at Talks At Google interview from November 22nd saying there was nothing to the Sandman, Goyer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt rumors. He said the whole thing was broken telephone of it getting bigger with each telling. So if Neil Gaiman has been brought aboard, it’s only been in the last couple of weeks.

  5. On Twitter yesterday Neil Gaiman stated that he was no contracted as a Producer, Writer, or anything else on the Sandman movie. The fact Goyer is working on it and Gaiman has not been brought it at all yet makes this very bad news in my opinion. But at least we have the comics.

  6. not a fan of jgl, but even if i was one, those are really REALLY big shoes to fill. especially for a comic which was always on the verge of turning into fantasy-kitsch (but fortunately almost never got there). i’d love to be more optimistic about it, but i’m not. no, this hasn’t disaster written all over it, more like: mediocrity.

  7. Goyer. Johns. Warner Brothers…
    All being names that inspire the utmost confidence… for this to be a major train wreck clusterfuck.
    Still – who cares? We have the comics – Gaiman gets a paycheck. Let them do their worst.

  8. I don’t think they are gonna go into it thinking… “Hey Guys, why don’t we do our best to really F** this one up”. I’m exciting to see what comes of this.

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