Mendes Forsakes Jesse Custer For James Bond

Jesse Custer has encountered another obstacle in his long journey to the big screen as Sam Mendes has left Preacher to direct the next Bond film.

However, producer Neal Moritz tells Collider that Columbia Pictures is already talking to another director for the adaptation of the Garth Ennis-Steve Dillon comic series. But even with the loss of Mendes, Moritz envisions filming to begin in 2011.

"We’ve got a great script," he said. "John August wrote a script that I think is terrific. The hardest thing was with all the books -- the Preacher books -- was how to distill it down. And what he made the smart decision instead of trying to cram everything into one, there’s plenty of room for two or three movies. So that’s what he’s done and he’s done a really faithful adaption but made it probably more accessible to a broader audience right now. That movie’s definitely R-rated and it’s an amazing central character."

Moritz also mentions that August (The Nines) has expressed interest in directing the film himself.

Preacher, which was published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint from 1995 to 2000, has had a long, bumpy relationship with Hollywood that dates back more than a decade. The 66-issue series centers on Jesse Custer, a down-and-out Texas preacher who sets off on a journey, accompanied by his hitwoman ex-girlfriend Tulip O'Hare and the hard-drinking Irish vampire named Cassidy, to quite literally find God, who has abandoned Heaven and his responsibilities.

At one point James Marsden (X-Men, Superman Returns) was cast in 2002 as Custer in a planned $25-million motion picture. However, the feature film was scrapped over budget concerns, and in late 2006 HBO announced it had signed Mark Steven Johnson and Howard Deutch to write and direct a television pilot. However, by August 2008, HBO had pulled away from the proposed series.

"The new head of HBO felt it was just too dark and too violent and too controversial," Stevenson said at the time. "Which, of course, is kind of the point!"

Two months later, Columbia announced it had purchased the film rights, with Mendes directing.

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