Screenwriter Eric Heisserer departs Sandman, says it should be a TV series
Looks like we can add the feature-film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" to the list of movies which just don't want to be made, and perhaps that's a good thing. The long-in-the-development project has been in the works for decades and it just hit yet another stumbling block. ARRIVAL screenwriter Eric Heisserer, who signed on to pen the script early this year, recently told io9 that he's departed SANDMAN due to conflicts with New Line over the direction the project should take.
I had many conversations with Neil [Gaiman] on this, and I did a lot of work on the feature and came to the conclusion that the best version of this property exists as an HBO series or limited series, not as a feature film, not even as a trilogy. The structure of the feature film really doesn’t mesh with this. So I went back and said here’s the work that I’ve done. This isn’t where it should be. It needs to go to TV. So I talked myself out of a job!
As Gaiman's "Sandman" series is quite the sprawling saga which would have to be cut back significantly for a single feature, I can't say that I disagree with him. Another person who also seems to agree with Eric Heisserer's assessment is Neil Gaiman himself, who posted the following on Twitter when he heard the news.
Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) November 3, 2016
Heisserer responded by saying that "it was an honor to be a torch bearer for this. I wish you the best in finding the right adoptive family for Morpheus." As Neil Gaiman doesn't own the rights to "Sandman", he unfortunately doesn't have much control over what happens with the SANDMAN feature, so it's likely that the project will continue to pass through the pens' of more writers before all is said and done.
Prior to Eric Heisserer coming on-board the project, Joseph Gordon-Levitt had been developing SANDMAN for several years with the intention of directing and starring in it. Gordon-Levitt eventually departed saying that "the folks at New Line and I just don't see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special, and what a film adaptation could/should be." Another of Neil Gaiman's works, "American Gods", has been developed into a TV series by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for Starz and will debut next year. Should the series be successful, perhaps it will give New Line the excuse it needs to transform "Sandman" into a series as well.