Joseph Gordon-Levitt Leaving Sandman

Just last month, Oliver Stone’s true story drama Snowden was pushed back yet again to a release date this fall, around the same time The Walk debuted last year, another movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. However, one of the actor’s developing projects won’t have the benefit of his talents any longer.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt posted an update to his Facebook page that he has left the adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s beloved comic series Sandman, citing creative difference with the studio. But the actor has also set up another project that he’s producing and may also star in at Amazon. Get details on both of these projects below.

First up, here’s the post detailing Joseph Gordon-Levitt leaving Sandman from Facebook:

So, as you might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, a while back, David Goyer and I made a producing deal with Warner Brothers to develop a movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN. Neil himself came on as an executive producer, we hired the excellent screenwriter, Jack Thorne, and we started in on the ambitious task of adapting one of the most beloved and boundary-pushing titles in the world of comics. I was pleased with the progress we were making, even though we still had quite a ways to go.

Recently, as you also might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, the sorta “ownership” (for lack of a better term) of the Sandman material changed hands when Warner Brothers shifted the entire catalogue of Vertigo comics (an imprint of DC) to their subsidiary, New Line. And a few months ago, I came to realize 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. So unfortunately, I decided to remove myself from the project. I wish nothing but the best for the team moving forward.

I’d like to thank all the great people I’ve had the opportunity to work with on this one. I’ve had a blast with and learned a ton from David and Jack. Niija Kuykendall, Greg Silverman, and everyone at Warner Brothers have been fantastic, as have Geoff Johns and everyone at DC. And it’s been a particular privilege as well as a rocking good time getting to know Mr. Gaiman, whose generous insights and masterful work have certainly convinced me that the Lord of Dreams and the Prince of Stories are one and the same Endless pattern.

Sandman Moves to New Line

Gordon-Levitt first boarded the project back in 2013 with David Goyer producing and Jack Thorne writing the script. The last update from the actor actually came the day after Vertigo comic book titles went over to New Line, but in the months since that announcement last June, it appears development on the project has gone south. That’s really a bummer, because Gordon-Levitt has been extremely passionate about the project. At one time he said:

Big spectacular action movies are generally about crime fighters fighting crime and blowing shit up. This has nothing to do with that. And it was actually one of the things that Neil Gaiman said to me, he said, ‘Don’t have any punching.’ Because he never does. If you read the comics, Morpheus doesn’t punch anybody. That’s not what he does. It’s going to be like a grand spectacular action film, but that relies on none of those same old ordinary clichés. So that’s why it’s taking a lot of time to write, but it’s going to be really good.

Maybe New Line is interested in turning this into a more traditional comic book action flick, and that’s why Joseph Gordon-Levitt left the project. Either way it’s a disappointing update. Coincidentally enough, Gordon-Levitt’s announcement comes after THR reported A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot and The Thing remake writer Eric Heisserer was hired to take a crack at the script.

Perhaps his hiring may have something to do with Gordon-Levitt’s departure? Heisserer’s previous work on the page doesn’t inspire much faith, but he does have the sci-fi drama The Story of Your Life being directed by Denis Villeneuve, so maybe we just haven’t seen work that has let him live up to his potential. We’ll find out eventually, assuming Sandman actually gets off the ground. At least we know Neil Gaiman doesn’t have any hard feelings about his departure:

Otherwise, Gordon-Levitt will be keeping busy over at Amazon Studios by producing a movie called K Troop. According to THR, the film will follow the rise of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War and the U.S. Army unit known as K Troop who fought against them. The project is early in development with Gordon-Levitt potentially taking the role of Major Lewis Merrill, the leader of the unit who used African-American to help bring down the KKK. The project is still early in development, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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