How Hollywood Almost Massacred ‘Sandman’
While sadly not a dramatic biopic about the life of Adam Sandler, The Sandman is, of course, Netflix’s new adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s beloved comic, following the adventures of Morpheus, the lord of dreams, and an icon for pale dudes with scraggly hair who dress only in black.
While the show looks promising, it easily could have been a complete disaster to rival the Hindenburg or Quibi. The idea of a Sandman adaptation has been kicking around Hollywood for a loooong time; as chronicled in the book Tales From Development Hell, future Shrek screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio penned a mostly-faithful adaptation back in the ‘90s. But things took a turn when Jon Peters (the Batman producer and Licorice Pizza villain) became attached to the movie as a producer, and it took the writing team “20 minutes” to get across the basic premise of the comic.
Despite the solid script, which was also worked on by Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary, once attached to direct the film, Warner Bros. eventually decided to go in a different (terrible) direction. They brought in a whole new writer to start from scratch; William Farmer, whose calling card was a yet-unproduced adaptation of another DC comic book … Jonah Hex.
Despite the fact that Farmer hadn’t read all of the Sandman comics (and found what he had read to be “undisciplined”), he was handed the gig – which he was promptly instructed to turn into a Terminator 2 rip-off in which Morpheus is the villain. According to Farmer: “The goal of the project was to take the Sandman name and use it as a franchise while making the actual story something more ‘for the masses.’” He was also instructed to include a scene where Morpheus inexplicably visits a rave. You know, for the kids.
More recently, there were plans to make a Sandman movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which also fell through after Gordon-Levitt and several screenwriters exited the project, ultimately paving the way for this new Netflix iteration – which is hopefully a real show and not secretly a coma dream. In which case, you need better unconscious hospital fantasies, buddy.
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