As Warner Bros. continues its efforts to get Neil Gaiman’s Sandman stories on to the big screen, the project has taken a step forward, with Skins and How I Live Now man Jack Thorne hired to write the script.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is aboard to produce the film and potentially both star in and direct, though he has yet to make a decision about the latter two jobs. Thorne, meanwhile, will be working from a pitch by Dark Knight trilogy/Man Of Steel co-writer David Goyer, the go-to man for most DC properties these days.
Sandman, for those poor deprived souls who are yet to read it, is a 75-issue DC/Vertigo comics series published in the 1990s. Gaiman's own one-line synopsis was: "The lord of dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision," but there's obviously a lot more to it than that, with the sprawling series taking in pantheons and mythologies from across the globe via threads about fantastical quests, serial killers, road trips, and short stories only tangentially connected to the core narrative.
Filmmakers have been trying to get this one made for years, with various versions flaring briefly before quietly fizzling out into the rumour void. Most recently, Supernatural creator Eric Kripke floated a TV adaptation.
The big sticking point has been the complex nature of the narrative. It’s extremely hard to distill the Sandman mythos down into the sort of structure used by movies and you’d need more than one to do it justice. While we’re sure Warners would be overjoyed to launch another franchise, the challenge for all involved will be first making one film that satisfies the Sandfans.
Thorne, who also wrote TV’s The Fades and This Is England ’88, has Nick Hornby adaptation A Long Way Down headed into UK cinemas on March 21.