Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is not an easy property to adapt to film. Any readers of the comics will immediately understand why: there are literally no boundaries in the comic series centered around Morpheus, the god of dreams. The comics introduce a wide variety of characters; from DC characters like Batman, all the way to the frantic lovers of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Most recently, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was trying to get a Sandman movie off the ground, but he has since bowed out of the project, the fate of the movie unknown. So what does series creator Neil Gaiman think? Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the writer shared his thoughts:
“If I had control over Sandman, which I do not, because I signed the deal when I was 26, and I knew what I was getting into. The trouble with Warners, and I don’t blame them for it, is they know that Sandman is one of the jewels in their crown — and they know that with the jewels in your crown, you make movies out of them,” says Gaiman. “And they know they have Batman. ‘We know what we have in Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Sandman… we just can’t crack Sandman.’ You can’t crack it, because it’s too big!”
So how do you solve the dilemma of the unfilmable comic-property? Neil Gaiman thinks the answer is the small screen:
“I suspect in a weird way, the fact that they took a tiny fragment of Sandman and now it’s one of Fox’s biggest hits might actually convince people to do the classy TV series I’ve been suggesting they do for 15 years now. For a long time, I’ve been saying with a movie, you’ll have to throw so many things out. Why not take all the things that make [it difficult to adapt], take all the bugs in Sandman, and make them features. The fact that you have 75 issues, plus a whole bunch of stories? You have 80 episodes. That’s a good thing! The fact that you have adult themes and adult things? That’s now a good thing. It will be very strange to take Sandman to TV, but I really do think it’s the most important thing we could do. And I hope if American Gods goes big? Between that and Lucifer, that could help.”
Also, Hannibal, and American Gods showrunner Bryan Fuller chimed on the subject to Yahoo! TV, expressing his desire to adapt the series:
“Those comics are so filled with so much story, and so much humanity and such visual candy — try to stop us if we have half the opportunity.”
Neil Gaiman is onto something. Think of Game of Thrones, and how difficult that series would have been to make into a movie trilogy. Recently, A Wheel of Time television series has been announced. Moving a series to television is no longer a sacrifice: in recent years, television has more-than matched the quality of movies. Perhaps series this big simply need a more long-form method of storytelling?
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