When it was announced that the Neil Gaiman-written "Sandman" would get the big-screen treatment, it seemed like a dream come true for fans of the seminal DC Comics/Vertigo series. Finally, what is considered to be one of the greatest comic book runs would be adapted to film. Yet the project has lingered in production limbo, and Eric Heisserer, the latest screenwriter brought on to adapt the comic, has told io9 he's left the project.
Heisserer joined the project back in early March of this year, and it appeared to be a major coup for the production. Heisserer wrote the "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "The Thing" remakes, plus the screenplay for this year's "Lights Out" and the upcoming "Arrival," both of which have received positive reviews. It looks like he’s off to other projects, as he stated he's quit the production because he feels that "Sandman" would be better served as a TV series.
"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!
Heisserer also cleared up some of the air surrounding his arrival and the departure of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was originally signed to star and direct. According to Heisserer, Gordon-Levitt had been gone for “seven months before I came on… So it looked like I was responsible for that leave when in fact I had nothing to do with that.” When Gordon-Levitt left, he had a similar reasoning as Heisserer, stating that New Line Cinema (which, like DC Comics, is owned by Warner Bros.) didn't share the same vision as to what a "Sandman" film should be.
There haven't yet been any updates from New Line regarding the departure, but as of now the film is still presumably in development. The TV adaptation of "American Gods," one of Gaiman's novels, is planned for a premiere on Starz next year.