Warner Bros. first attempted to adapt Neil Gaiman's classic DC/Vertigo comic series Sandman back in the late 1990s, only for the project to never make it past the preproduction stage. This curse has stuck ever since, with a Sandman film adaptation spending more time in development hell than the title character spent in actual hell during the Season of Mists arc.
Many screenwriters and directors have tried their hands at making Sandman a reality, and all have been unsuccessful. As of 2010, prospects for a theatrical Sandman film looked so poor that DC and Warner decided to bring the character to television. True to form, the TV series never made it past preproduction.
Just when things seemed hopeless for Sandman fans, Dark Knight Rises star Joseph Gordon-Levitt came to the rescue a few months back, signing on to direct and possibly star in a Sandman film. Details about the project are still being kept (mostly) under wraps, but Gaiman himself saw fit to discuss the topic at a recent festival appearance, and seems very enthused about how things are progressing.
According to Gaiman:
"Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of all people, is an enormous 'Sandman' fan. He and David Goyer talked about it, they’ve come up, I believe, with a treatment of what they want the story of the first movie to be."They are talking to an incredible writer [Jack Thorne], who I coincidentally already knew, because he did the movie script for 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane,' so I’ve met him and loved his treatment of my work. And Wednesday afternoon I will be spending with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and talking 'Sandman'! That’s pretty much everything I know. Now you know as much as I know."
Before JGL came along, Gaiman seemed to have resigned himself to the fact that his beloved comic creation wouldn't reach either the big or small screens (at least not for a while), and really, who could blame him? He previously voiced his displeasure publicly with the scripts Warner had been sending him, at one point remarking that he would "rather see no 'Sandman' movie made than a bad 'Sandman' movie."
For Gaiman - a man never known for sugarcoating his opinions - to be this enthusiastic, he must really have faith that writer Thorne and director Levitt can pull off a proper Sandman adaptation.
The fact that Levitt is already meeting with Gaiman in person to discuss things is in itself a very positive sign, as it assures fans that the young director has respect for the man who originally brought the Sandman to life on the printed page.
The Sandman film is still in development, and thus far has no projected release date.