Neil Gaiman On SANDMAN And BOOKS OF MAGIC Films That Almost Were
Neil Gaiman was a recent guest on the Empire Magazine Podcast where a number of topics were discussed, including having a number of his literary works exist as unproduced screenplays. One such project is Sandman which has been talked about for a quite a while now including quite a few rumors about possible directors and cast. Also discussed is an almost adaptation of his 4-issue miniseries Books of Magic. The conversation about both DC Comics titles picks up towards the end of the podcast with Neil talking about pitching comic book and graphic novel properties to studios and producers and the process of watching the development of the film morph into something less and less like the story that was actually written.
Neil Gaiman on planned adaptations of Books of Magic and Sandman that per his description sound truly horrendous. Morpheus' first line was, "As if your puny weapons could hurt me, Morpheus the Mighty Lord of Dreams."
Neil on "Books of Magic":
"The worst one of all was Books of Magic, it was really weird because the first draft and the second draft scripts were really good. And they were good enough that they got everybody at the studio really excited. But now everyone is giving notes and now everyone is piddling into this thing because they really like the idea of 'smelling their own weight' and it's slowly turning into this sort of 'urine soaked lemonge' and it's no longer any good. Now the original writer leaves and a new writer comes in and all he knows is that the more you change, the more likely you are to have your name on the credit when they make it, so he's changing everything randomly. And then he's fired and they get somebody else in but now they've got a director and the director goes away and does his own draft and I look at the [current] script and it looks like they're about to make it - and for all I know they may have, because I called DC Comics and said, 'This has nothing in common with Books of Magic anymore other than the heroes name is Tim Hunter and the movie is called Books of Magic. And if this movie happens, all it will do is upset any fans of Tim Hunter and the Books of Magic and make them feel used. It's perfectly adequate for what it is, which is terrible, so why don't we ask if [the studio] can pay us off and they can use the script and we take back the name 'Books of Magic' and they can call their hero something else.' And they did and I was incredibly relieved and I have no idea if that film ever got made or not."
Neil on an early Sandman script:
"We also dodged a bullet on the worst of all the Sandman scripts. It was so bad, I couldn't even get to the end of it. I read about 5-10 pages and went 'I can't bear this.' And later read a summary of the plot on AintItCoolNews because somebody there got hold of the script, and I just felt sick the whole way [through]. [In that script] Morpheus' first line was, 'As if your puny weapons could hurt me, Morpheus the Mighty Lord of Dreams.' And I went, 'Oh no, that's awful, this is terrible. He was kept by electromagnets underneath New York and it must have been about 1997 or '98 because it was a millennium based plot. [The lead characters] had to do some stuff before the millennium, the lead characters were brothers, Lucifer, The Corinthian and Sandman were brothers, and it was this race against time to gather a bunch of MacGuffins before the millennium. It never got made and whoever wrote [that script] got paid more for writing that than I ever was for writing the entirety of Sandman. So in terms of how I feel about stuff [I write not becoming films], I feel fine."
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