With “Watchmen,” the crown jewel in the comic-book medium’s feathered hat, having made the jump to the silver screen, alongside classy adult-oriented faves like “V For Vendetta,” “300,” “Sin City,” “American Splendor” and “From Hell,” filmmakers and studios alike are scouring around for the next classic masterwork to adapt for mass audiences. While Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” is probably quite a ways away from becoming a reality, there has been considerable interest in creating a cinematic version of Neil Gaiman’s celebrated “Sandman” series.
While doing press-rounds for next month’s “Kick-Ass,” MTV talked to the movie’s writer/producer/director Matthew Vaughn, who expressed enthusiasm in transforming the 75-issue Vertigo comic-book opus into a live-action HBO series.
As far as Vaughn is concerned, television is the only real proper avenue to take the project, as “there’s too much to get into an hour and a half, two hours.” He also mentions that he’s talked to Gaiman about it, who shares his well-informed belief “that as a movie it’s virtually impossible to make properly.”
Before you “Sandman” enthusiasts get too excited, however, it should be seriously noted that the property is currently owned by Warner Bros., who have currently no apparent intention of bringing the character to the small-screen (or doing much of anything with him at the moment). From a business stand-point, it would likely be riskier to go the HBO route, as the project would require a significant budget to suitably mirror the world of the comic-book and the guarantee of a dedicated sizable audience is far from concrete.
As potentially shaky as it may be from a quality perspective, a feature-length motion-picture would be a more easily lucrative situation, as the comic-book film genre is smoking hot right now and a well-advertised, cool-looking trailer could easily draw enough fans and curious movie-goers to help the venture eke out a profit — especially once foreign and DVD sales come into play. Plus, there’d be plenty of material from which to crank out sequels, making a “Sandman” trilogy a mighty appealing prospect.
Should this HBO idea happen, though, I can think of worse overseers than Vaughn, who has shown a genuine sense of gutsiness and determination towards his motion picture ventures thus far. I suspect that, if “Kick-Ass” proves to be a smash, he may, just may, be able to pull this project out of development hell. I wouldn’t really recommend holding your collective breath, though.
“Sandman” art by Mike Dringenberg
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“Sandman”,Matthew Vaughn,Warner Bros.,Neil Gaiman