The road to bringing The Sandman to the big (or small) screen has been long and hard, but apparently, that was co-creator Neil Gaiman‘s plan from the start.
In a Rolling Stone interview, Gaiman said that he would use his power to stop any adaptation of the popular fantasy horror comic series of the same name, first published in 1989 by Vertigo. That included a film adaptation that was in the works in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with Jon Peters attached as the screenwriter.
Gaiman believed Peters’ script was the worst script he’d ever been sent:
“It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody. A guy in Jon Peters’ office phoned me up and he said, ‘So Neil, have you had a chance to read the script we sent you?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes. Yes, I did. I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read enough.’ He says, ‘So, pretty good. Huh?’ And I said, ‘Well, no. It really isn’t.’ He said, ‘Oh, come on. There must have been stuff in there you loved.’ I said, ‘There was nothing in there I loved. There was nothing in there I liked. It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody. It’s not just the worst Sandman script. That was the worst script I’ve ever been sent.'”
Peters’ script apparently turned The Sandman into an action-comedy that featured a giant mechanical spider and a three-way race for Dream of the Endless’ three tools of power. The movie also made Morpheus, Lucifer, and the Corinthian triplets, which Peters thought was a stroke of genius but Gaiman thought was the product of an idiot.
So, what’s a man to do when it looks like the film will be made regardless of what he thinks? Well, he leaks the script to the biggest entertainment website at the time: Ain’t It Cool News. Here’s a pull quote:
“I sent the script to Ain’t It Cool News, which back then was read by people. And I thought, ‘I wonder what Ain’t It Cool News will think of the script that they’re going to receive anonymously.’ And they wrote a fabulous article about how it was the worst script they’d ever been sent. And suddenly, the prospect of that film happening went away.”
Sucks to suck, Peters.
The Sandman went through several other development cycles before Netflix finally found the winning formula. The series premiered its first season back in August to almost unanimous praise. Fans are now desperately waiting for Netflix to greenlight a second season. If you’ve already binged The Sandman Season 1 and have thoughts, please share them in our Spoil Away thread here.
Are you glad Gaiman killed that Sandman adaptation? What was up with Peters’ obsession with giant mechanical spiders?