JGL wants to show you terror in a handful of dust.
Deadline reports that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is finalizing a deal to co-produce a film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's classic DC Comics/VERTIGO series The Sandman for Warner Bros. Gordon-Levitt has teamed with co-producer David Goyer, who pitched a treatment to the studio, and the deal supposedly has Gordon-Levitt starring as the central character Dream/Morpheus. It's possible that he may direct the film as well, after making his directorial debut earlier this year with the film Don Jon. A screenwriter has yet to be selected.
Gaiman's dark fantasy series debuted in 1989, chronicling the saga of Dream, the Lord of Dreams, and one of the aspects of the universe personified by a group of powerful beings known as The Endless. As the series begins, Dream is captured in an occult ritual and imprisoned on Earth for seventy years, but escapes in the modern day and sets about rebuilding his realm of dreams. Over the course of 75 issues, plus an annual and a special, Gaiman and a variety of artists (including Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, Kelley Jones, Jill Thompson and others) explored both the modern world and the past, incorporating numerous elements of literature, mythology, religion, fantasy, horror and even superheroes.
Since the late nineties, there have been several failed attempts to bring Sandman to the big screen, with one script described by Gaiman as "not only the worst Sandman script I've ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I've ever read." By 2001, the project became stuck in Development Hell, with Gaiman commenting on the despairing situation in 2007, saying "I'd rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie. But I feel like the time for a Sandman movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same obsession with the source material as Peter Jackson had with Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi had with Spider-Man."
Five years later, Gordon-Levitt was featured in Warner Bros.' Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, which Goyer helped co-write the story for along with director Christopher Nolan. Goyer has been key for Warner Bros.' development of DC Comics properties for films, including this year's Superman film Man of Steel and the upcoming untitled sequel referred to as Batman vs. Superman.
Gordon-Levitt has posted on Twitter about the project, apparently confirming that it will be based on the first Sandman volume, Preludes & Nocturnes.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm incredibly honored to be working with David Goyer, Warner Bros, and @neilhimself on SANDMAN. #Prelude
— Joseph Gordon-Levitt (@hitRECordJoe) December 17, 2013
The timing of the project also seems deliberate, with Gaiman returning to the world of The Sandman in a six-issue limited series called The Sandman: Overture that began earlier this year. The second issue of the series is currently expected in February 2014.