Well, it seems Joseph Gordon-Levitt won't be needing any more Robert Smith wig fittings. After more than two years of development on an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Gordon-Levitt has dropped out of the project he was meant to direct and star in over creative differences.
Is studio meddling and bureaucracy to blame? Of course studio meddling and bureaucracy is to blame. As Gordon-Levitt explained on 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.
Speaking of endless patterns: the ceaseless cycle of developing screen versions of Sandman will also continue. THR reports that Final Destination 5, The Thing (2011), and Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) writer Eric Heisserer is now trying to write a new script.