Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nears Deal to Produce, Direct and Star in SANDMAN [Updated]

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A few weeks ago, we reported that Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) was circling the title role in Warner Bros.’ Sandman, an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman comic pitched to the studio by screenwriter-producer David S. Goyer.  A new development has JGL in the final stages of a deal that sets him up as a producer of the film with an attachment to star, but the real twist is that he might be lining up to take the director’s chair as well.  The search is on for a writer at the moment.  Hit the jump for more.

the-sandman-overture-neil-gaimanDeadline reports that Gordon-Levitt may direct and star in Sandman in addition to his role as a producer alongside Goyer.  Here’s what Gordon-Levitt had to say about it via Twitter:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m incredibly honored to be working with David Goyer, Warner Bros, and @neilhimself on SANDMAN. #Prelude

Gordon-Levitt made his directorial debut with Don Jon, which was certainly a crowd-pleaser, but a Sandman adaptation brings with it the expectations of the property’s fanbase.  Originally running from 1989 to 1996, Gaiman’s take on the comic series revived a mid-70s creation of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.  Gaiman’s reimagining of the character went on to become one of the few graphic novels to grace the New York Times Bestseller list.

His story centers on the title character (who is known by many names, including Dream and Morpheus), an anthropomorphic manifestation of dreams.  Held prisoner for 70s years, he escapes into the modern world to seek vengeance on his captors and set about rebuilding his crumbling kingdom.  Much as the character himself changes from a cruel being to more of a tragic hero, the story itself evolves from a dark horror comic to an elaborate fantasy story.  A Sandman adaptation has been tried a number of times over the years, so here’s hoping that Goyer and Gordon-Levitt can take it further down the road to development.




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  • mattinacan

    this would be great news, JGL would have free creative control to produce and direct as well as act. very promising indeed.

  • IMPYEMU

    Ew. Levitt and Goyer.

    • nice

      Gordon-Levitt rocks. Goyer sometimes rocks. They are still looking for a writer, so even if you don’t like Goyer, it could still rock.

      If JGL’s on board, I’m on board.

    • axalon

      I am so sick of Goyer

      • Strong Enough

        i never knew a writer can fill a man with such hate

      • axalon

        Eh, not hate. Just want some new blood in there.

      • Strong Enough

        it was his pitch though

      • axalon

        Which he was able to leverage by his position at Warner Bros. I’m sure there are dozen writers with pitches for Sandman.

        Again, not hating the dude. Just want someone new in there.

      • Strong Enough

        leverage? oh please. the man had a good idea and he got another movie. deal with it

      • axalon

        Yes, leverage. If a movie you were involved with made tons of money the studio/production company will give you priority over other writers. Simple as that.

        And for the third time, I’m not hating the guy. I never said having leverage is a bad thing, it’s the way the world works. If you have an advantage in this industry you should fully take it. I just want to see some new blood in Hollywood.

        But I hope you don’t think this project went to the best team because Goyer’s track record would have something to say about that.

      • Strong Enough

        and there is plenty new blood in hollywood. especially from writers. New writers get pitch deals all the time. read deadline news. almost every week a new writer sells an idea. didn’t warners hire Will beal a new writer to write Justice league? it just so happens david had a great idea for sandman and got the film. we have no idea how many pitches goyer throws at warners for other movies that get rejected. besides the man wrote The Dark Knight. give him some credit

      • axalon

        Yes, new writers sell new ideas all the time. And that’s just what they are. Ideas.

        Anybody will tell you there’s a huge difference between selling your screenplay and actually getting it made.

        Also, Goyer didn’t write The Dark Knight. Jonathan and Christopher Nolan wrote it. Goyer was credited with the story.

        Since you’re citing Goyer’s credits, he also wrote and directed Blade: Trinity. In fact he had almost full creative control over that as writer, director, and producer and look how that turned out.

        Maybe there is new blood flowing into Hollywood that I don’t know, but it certainly isn’t flowing into the larger franchises that need it.

      • Strong Enough

        James is doing Guardians of the galaxy, GI Joe 2 was written by a new writer who wrote Snow White & the huntsman, 22 jump street is written by a new writer who is writing MIB 4, edge of tomorrow was a spec script that sold from a new writer, Transcendence is from a new writer who is writing Prometheus 2, the writer of safe house is writing bad boys 3, and so on and on. The black list comes out every year and dozens of movies get produced from new writers who go on to write blockbusters. So yes there is tons of new blood. and goyer did write some of the dark knight. Jonathan nolan write 500 pages and it was david and chris’s job to condense it. So yes he had a major part in TDK. And so what he has a few bad movies? who doesn’t when it comes to be a studio writer? The fact is he is good at what he does or else he wouldn’t still be doing it after all these years.

      • axalon

        Those writers you listed are a small drop in a huge pond.

        Edge of Tomorrow wasn’t written on spec. It was adapted by D.W. Harper from the novel then rewritten to hell twice.

        And what you’re saying is EXACTLY what I want. I want those new writers to take over franchises that have been worn out by the same people working on them. (i.e. Goyer, Avi Arad for Spider-Man).

        You’re sweeping Goyer’s bad movies under the rug like they’re nothing when he has more than his fair share. I don’t see people like Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin or Chris Terrio or Ben Magid turning in bad scripts.

        And now for the fourth time, I’m fine with Goyer working, it’s nothing against him. I just, specifically, want new people in the DC franchises.

      • Strong Enough

        Edge of Tomorrow was written by a NEW writer. that is the point. does it matter if it was adapted? Steve Zaillan has bad movies “All The Kings Men?” Aaron Sorkin with Malice?Chris Terio is a new writer who by the way is rewriting Batman vs Superman proving my point once again new writers are in the system. Green Lantern wasn’t even touched by Goyer and look how that turned out. face it. Goyer is the best thing that ever happened to WB and DC.

      • axalon

        Chris Terrio is not a new writer at all. There are drafts of his unproduced scripts back from 2009 floating around. Terrio is on Batman vs. Superman by way of Ben Affleck. Simple as that.

        Go to rottentomatoes and look up Steve Zaillian. Then go look up David Goyer. One has significantly lower rated movies.

        “Goyer is the best thing that ever happened to WB and DC.”

        Now you’re just trolling…

        Nolan is the best thing to happen to WB and DC, Goyer was just riding in on Chris and Jonathan Nolan’s coattails.

        Also what’s your logic here? Because Green Lantern was bad without Goyer that means that his presence in WB is suddenly a good thing? What?

      • Strong Enough

        Chris Terrio is a new writer. the fact is everyone has bad movies. Goyer involvement with the TDK trilogy proves he’s a good storyteller. Without him, The Dark Knight, the GOAT superhero movie would not exist.

        but i guess we can agree to disagree.

      • axalon

        Those writers you listed are a small drop in a huge pond.

        Edge of Tomorrow wasn’t written on spec. It was adapted by D.W. Harper from the novel then rewritten to hell twice.

        And what you’re saying is EXACTLY what I want. I want those new writers to take over franchises that have been worn out by the same people working on them. (i.e. Goyer, Avi Arad for Spider-Man).

        You’re sweeping Goyer’s bad movies under the rug like they’re nothing when he has more than his fair share. I don’t see people like Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin or Chris Terrio or Ben Magid turning in bad scripts.

        And now for the fourth time, I’m fine with Goyer working, it’s nothing against him. I just, specifically, want new people in the DC franchises.

      • Strong Enough

        it was his pitch though

      • thatguy

        Then you are clearly not familiar with Damon Lindelof…

      • Strong Enough

        another good writer

      • Riddick

        Goyer isn’t going to write the script, he is awesome when it comes to chalking down the story.

      • ILikeBacon

        It’s an adaptation, the story is already there. Goyer’s not going to make it any better than it already is.

      • Riddick

        Goyer isn’t going to write the script, he is awesome when it comes to chalking down the story.

  • Dan

    Don Jon was an entertaining debut, but rough around the edges. This isn’t meant to be derogatory, but it was clearly the work of a filmmaker early in his career behind the camera. I have a hard time imagining JGL possessing the aptitude to pull off directing something like Sandman at this point. If they’re going to do it justice I think they’d be better served getting a director who’s proven his visual creativity more.

    • Batt Damon

      At the very least they need to pair him up with a great cinematographer. Someone like Roger Deakins.

      • scheebles

        Now this is true. They need a career cinematographer that COULD be a director if he wanted to. Although I think Deakins’ style and palette are far too classically restrained for the Sandman. Deakins is class and real-world sophistication with a cinematic tint. Sandman needs to get a bit stranger. Maybe Bruno Delbonnel. Or Robert Richardson. Maybe Lubezki if he can channel his early whimsy. But good luck getting him after Gravity.

      • Why?

        You guys are mentioning some interesting people. Could you suggest some films these guys worked on, that I should see?

      • scheebles

        Chances are you’ve seen a lot of their movies. Deakins: Skyfall, True Grit, No Country for Old Men, Shawshank Redemption, O Brother Where Art Thou? Delbonnel: Amelie, HP 6, Across the Universe, Dark Shadows, Inside Llewyn Davis. Lubezki: Gravity, Tree of Life, Children of Men, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Little Princess, Sleepy Hollow, The New World. Richardson: Django Unchained, Shutter Island, Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill, Hugo. They could probably swing Guillermo Navarro, too. He has a good relationship with WB and Neil Gaiman (whom he hosted with Del Toro on the set of Hellboy II).

      • scheebles

        Now this is true. They need a career cinematographer that COULD be a director if he wanted to. Although I think Deakins’ style and palette are far too classically restrained for the Sandman. Deakins is class and real-world sophistication with a cinematic tint. Sandman needs to get a bit stranger. Maybe Bruno Delbonnel. Or Robert Richardson. Maybe Lubezki if he can channel his early whimsy. But good luck getting him after Gravity.

  • Mario Vega

    He doesn’t fit as the sandman…….two words…BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH!
    directing?…..Peter Jackson of course.

    • scheebles

      Yes, that would be great. BC would make a perfect Morpheus. But let’s be honest, the concept is the kind of abstract that scares the crap out of studio heads. The only way they are going to do it is if they get some clout or a hot up-and-comer to partner up with someone with a track record they like. Peter Jackson does what he wants and he isn’t banging down the door to direct, then he’s not going to do.

      Let’s face it. Nobody is lining up to do this film. It’s been in development hell for years and marked as virtually unfilmable (in a way that WB would want it to be produced). If JGL and Goyer have WB willing to put up the dough for it, I will gladly take JGL as Morpheus.

      • Mario Vega

        BUT BUT… :’C

        I mean I know it’s a hard proyect but people said the same with the lord of the rings trilogy…and see what happenned…It’s not that I don’t believe in JGL talent it’s just that Neil Gaimans The Sandman it’s one of the best things in the universe and I don’t want the typical blockbuster shit movie adaptation, it deserves more, we deserve more….because it’s not the film we deserve but the film we need ,and it can endure more years because it is a silent odyssey, a fantastical ode…..a sand-man.

      • justme

        I see no reason to think JGL would produce a “typical blockbuster shit movie adaptation.” Don Jon was a stylish and unusual film that goes well beyond the confines of your typical romcom in aesthetic as well as story, despite being made on a low budget. Also look at his work with his company HitRecord–there is a lot of inventive and creative output there. If anything, someone like JGL is just what a film adaptation of The Sandman needs.

      • Why?

        Good point.

    • Kevin

      Yeah, I’d say him or Tom Hiddleston. I’d vote for Del Toro directing, especially as a friend of Neil Gaiman’s.

      • Mario Vega

        Del Toro didn’t finish his Hellboy trilogy, he didn’t took the direction of the hobbit and I don’t think he deserve the sandman in his curriculum….

        Tom is a good actor but I don’t picture him as morpheus, he’s too atractive for that role jaja

      • randommale7

        Yeah because no one wanting to fund Hellboy 3 is his fault and also the fact the Peter Jackson kept pushing back production for the Hobbit is Del Toro’s fault as well…nice justification…

      • Mario Vega

        Del Toro didn’t finish his Hellboy trilogy, he didn’t took the direction of the hobbit and I don’t think he deserve the sandman in his curriculum….

        Tom is a good actor but I don’t picture him as morpheus, he’s too atractive for that role jaja

    • The Flobbit

      Benedict Cumberbatch fits every role on earth. He’s a bloody genius, as is Peter Jackson. Unfortunately these guys are some of the busiest on earth right now.

      • Mario Vega

        well….let’s wait for them!

      • Mario Vega

        well….let’s wait for them!

    • The Flobbit

      Benedict Cumberbatch fits every role on earth. He’s a bloody genius, as is Peter Jackson. Unfortunately these guys are some of the busiest on earth right now.

    • brNdon

      Benedict would be FUCKING PERFECT!

    • brNdon

      Benedict would be FUCKING PERFECT!

    • The Flobbit

      How about Ben Whishaw as Morpheus?

  • Mixed Race rich kid NYC

    Sigh
    There goes what could have been a great movie !!
    Whatever happened to Alex Proyas ?

    • Strong Enough

      Ew

  • Ben Wigler

    I’ll take it. I hate Goyer’s writing with a passion, but somehow he gets concepts I want to see in front of a camera. I guess I just have to hope for the best and learn to love terrible dialogue. I like JGL a lot. We’ll see how it goes!

  • The Flobbit

    I am totally cool with Gordon-Levitt portraying Dream; he shows real acting range and can pull off incredible charisma. But directing? I would rather get someone more experienced like Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Vaughn, Peter Jackson, or Alex Proyas.

    Of course, my first choice for the role of Dream goes to the incredible actor BEN WHISHAW, who would absolutely kill the role.

  • The Flobbit

    I am totally cool with Gordon-Levitt portraying Dream; he shows real acting range and can pull off incredible charisma. But directing? I would rather get someone more experienced like Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Vaughn, Peter Jackson, or Alex Proyas.

    Of course, my first choice for the role of Dream goes to the incredible actor BEN WHISHAW, who would absolutely kill the role.

  • The Flobbit

    I am totally cool with Gordon-Levitt portraying Dream; he shows real acting range and can pull off incredible charisma. But directing? I would rather get someone more experienced like Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Vaughn, Peter Jackson, or Alex Proyas.

    Of course, my first choice for the role of Dream goes to the incredible actor BEN WHISHAW, who would absolutely kill the role.

    • scheebles

      Whishaw or Cumberbatch would be amazing. But WB has shown that they want “hot” male talent for their films. It’s really belittling but they seem to think the only way to get women into theaters is with male eye candy. Thus you get Ryan Reynolds in GL. Ben Affleck in SvB (although I think he’ll do fine in the role).

      As for directors, Del Toro is so damn busy that he’d never get to this. He’s writing a million things, consulting for Dreamworks Animation, getting his new show off the ground, and he’s got PR2 in the pipeline. He’s the only one I could see jumping at this. Everyone else would’ve already had the job if they had wanted it.

      • The Flobbit

        Whishaw and Cumberbatch aren’t hot? Cumberbatch was named the sexiest man on earth in 2013 (Empire poll), and Whishaw has a sizable fanbase.

      • scheebles

        I’m arguing that to WB Execs, Cumberbatch and Whishaw are not focus group hot. I think it’s misguided on their part, as I do feel that they both draw in women. Which is why I put “hot” in quotation marks. I know plenty of women who prefer BC and Whishaw to typical Hollywood hunks. I personally think BC and Whishaw would make a better Sandman, but WB is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to casting superheroes.

      • The Flobbit

        WB is slow on everything except jumping on chances to make money. That is why I want a smaller studio like Lionsgate, a good director like Del Toro, and a well-chosen cast headed by a strong actor picked for his talent and suitability to the role of Morpheus, rather than popularity or box office draw.

  • scheebles

    It’s funny to me that we’re throwing out the people we wish would direct this. If those big names had actually wanted to do Sandman, they would’ve lined up to do it by this point. The fact is, nobody wanted to touch it with a ten foot pole. Of all the people that wanted to tackle this movie, believe it or not Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio put together the best adaptation out of anyone and were passionate about it but WB pulled the plug. I applaud JGL for using his clout to get this done. And for that, I’ll give him the opportunity to impress me.

    • scheebles

      Also just saw in JGL’s tweet that Neil will be working on this. I’m glad they’re getting his input.

  • Brannon Bledsoe

    Dream may be the star, but Death and Delirium will be the awesome…

  • God’s Diamond

    Produce and direct ok, but star? Nooooo! This role was made for Benedict Cumberbatch

  • ISeemToBeAVerb

    JGL is a truly fine actor who’s continually impressive and maturing in his craft. I think he could do the role of Morpheus justice and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll do with it.

    His both directing and acting in a film as epic as this one should be does make me wonder, though. Quite an undertaking. Hopefully he’s not biting off more than he can chew because Sandman is a property that deserves to be presented as GLORIOUSLY as possible! It could be a landmark comicbook film.

    and it should be.

    And a Preludes and Nocturnes film should be an ‘R’ rated film or, as dangerously closed to it as a ‘PG-13′ film can be. FINGERS CROSSED!!

    • scheebles

      I don’t see why it has to be rated R. PG-13 would suffice. And he’ll get a bigger budget for PG-13.

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  • ScottX

    You know who would be cool as a writer for this, that Gaiman guy who writes Dr. Who episodes. Yeah.

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  • roseb

    awesome..

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