Columbia Brings ‘Preacher’ to the Choir
Both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety are reporting that Columbia Pictures has picked up the rights to adapt Preacher for film. The Vertigo series will be directed by Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition). Neal Moritz (I Am Legend) will produce with Original Films alongside Jason Netter (Wanted) of Kickstart Productions. There are no writers currently attached.
Created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion, Preacher focuses on small town preacher Jesse Custer who becomes possessed by the entity known as Genesis. The supernatural being is the offspring of an angel and a demon, and bestows upon Custer the Word of God — the ability to tell anyone to do anything. When Custer learns that God has abandoned Heaven, Jesse sets off with gun-toting ex-girlfriend Tulip and hard-drinking vampire Cassidy to meet their maker and hold him accountable for leaving humanity to fend for itself.
Preacher is an incredibly beloved series by comic fans everywhere. It’s come close to adaptation twice before, once as a movie and later as a television series. View Askew Productions held the rights for several years with James Marsden (X-Men) set to play Custer. This version advanced as far as the make up testing stages for Arseface, a teenager who disfigures himself during a botched Kurt Cobain inspired suicide attempt. Samuel L. Jackson expressed interest in playing the Saint of all Killers. Though the project never took off, you can find the make up tests (pictured above) and concept art of Jackson as the Saint by clicking here. Arseface looks awesome, by which we mean totally gross… by which, of course, we still mean awesome.
Most recently, a television adaptation of Preacher was developing over at HBO. Mark Steven Johnson and Howard Deutch, the writer-director team behind Grumpier Old Men, were set as executive producers. Johnson was particularly vocal about the project, declaring that each issue would see translation as a one-hour episode. Despite his devotion to keeping Ennis and Dillon’s vision intact, skepticism arose regarding Johnson’s previous comic-to-film record, which includes Daredevil and Ghost Rider. In the end, Preacher never got off the ground due to its controversially dark and violent content which Johnson refused to compromise. Preacher certainly would’ve made for a brilliant television series, but perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that the man who handed Affleck his red tights is off the project.
Given its rocky history, it’ll be a while before anyone truly believes that this rendition of Preacher will have any more success than its predecessors. To be fair, producers Moritz and Netter are already attached to produce The Boys, another Ennis series from Dynamite, with Columbia Pictures. When they cast Simon Pegg as Wee Hughie, we’ll know they mean business. Still, Preacher is clearly in the hands of Ennis fans, implying that there are some seriously sick people running Columbia. When it comes to anything Ennis, that’s more than fine with us.