Vertigo/WildStorm at the Movies
Since Dark Knight hit the screen, the world of superheroes in film may not be the same again. With the inevitable success of Watchmen in 2009 and many more non-cape-wearing heroes on the way to theaters, we’ve collected just where things lie on some of our favorite Vertigo and WildStorm franchises, and how far we could be to seeing them at the local multiplex. For the super-heroes, see yesterday’s report.
Y the Last Man
New Lien optioned the recently completed Y the Last Man several years ago and creator Brian K. Vaughn wrote the initial screenplay. In 2007, New Line assigned the stalled project to the creative team behind Disturbia — director DJ Caruso and screenwriter Carl Ellsworth — with producer David Goyer.
In an interview with Caruso, he claimed that the story was too much for just one movie, and they decided to focus on making the first film primarily about issues 1-14 of the comic series. The entire series would be plotted into three films and rumors have been circulating that Shia LaBeouf was in line for the role at one point. Caruso and LaBeouf worked together of Disturbia and Eagle Eye and LaBeouf expressed interest in the role.
Caruso told Slash Film in July, “I was talking to Shia [LaBeouf] about this yesterday when we were looping him, because he really wants to do it as well, I would like to prep this movie in October, and start shooting it by January. Warner Bros keeps saying ‘We need movies for 2010′ I’m like ‘We’re the movie!’” said Caruso. “[Shia] wants to do it, I want to do it. I think we just need to worry about him being exhausted, so I told him, if I prep it in the fall and we start in January, that’s a nice big break.”
On Thursday, both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported 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.
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.
Throughout the late 1990s, a movie adaptation of the comic was periodically planned by Warner Brothers, parent company of DC Comics. Roger Avary was originally attached to direct after the success of Pulp Fiction, collaborating with Pirates of the Caribbean screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio in 1996 on a revision of their first script draft, which merged the Preludes and Nocturnes storyline with that of The Doll’s House. Avary intended the film to be in part visually inspired by animator Jan Švankmajer’s work.
Avary was fired after disagreements over the creative direction with executive producer Jon Peters, best known for Batman (1989) and Superman Lives. It was due to their meeting on the Sandman movie project that Avary and Gaiman collaborated one year later on the script for Beowulf. The project carried on through several more writers and scripts. A later draft by William Farmer, reviewed by Ain’t It Cool News, was met with scorn from fans. Gaiman called the last screenplay that Warner Brothers would send him "…not only the worst Sandman script I’ve ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I’ve ever read." Gaiman also has said that his dissatisfaction with how his characters were being treated had dissuaded him from writing any more stories involving the Endless, although he has since written Endless Nights. By 2001 the project had become stranded in development hell. In a Q&A panel at Comic-Con 2007, Gaiman remarked: "I’d rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie. But I feel like the time for a Sandman movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same obsession with the source material as Peter Jackson had with Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi had with Spider-Man."
Warner Bros. optioned a Sandman movie based on issues 1-8. Jon Peters is the producer; Neil Gaiman has no involvement with it. Eight or nine scripts have been written and junked over the years.
In 2007, Gaiman announced that after ten years in development, they would finally begin production on a film based on Death: The High Cost of Living entitled Death and Me. Both written and directed by Gaiman for Warner Bros independent line, the film has Don Murphy and Susan Montford attached to produce as well as Guillermo del Toro as executive producer.
Gaiman just this week addressed the long-delayed film version. “Well, I think the latest is that we’re all waiting to see what happens to New Line [which had been merged into Warner Bros.]. Death is a very odd thing because, unlike Coraline or Anansi Boys, which I’m doing for Warners, or The Graveyard Book or any of those kinds of things, I don’t own and control the rights to Death. I’m attached to it, I’ve written a script for it, I’m meant to be directing it… but I don’t control it, and for reasons having to do with corporate relationships between DC Comics and Warner Brothers, it has to be done by a Warner Brothers company, and then you have to find a Warner Brothers studio within Warner Brothers that will be a good fit for that film, and of course New Line was a really good fit for that film, and it remains to be seen right now what New Line is when the dust is settled and whether there is a New Line or not.”
Books of Magic
Gaiman is also executive producer of a Books of Magic feature film, based on his original miniseries. Matt Greenberg (Halloween: H20, Mimic) is the screenwriter of recordwho has the headache of telling the story of a boy wizard without imitating Harry Potter, which actually arrived a decade after the comic. Having heard nothing about this in quite some time, we are presuming it to be moribund if not dead.
New Line optioned We3 for a movie project shortly after the three issue miniseries was first published. Morrison was attached after his script from 2006 was bought, while Don Murphy, Susan Montford and Rick Benattar are producing. Since New Line has since been absorbed into Warner Bros, Morrison said in an interview that it would be easier for them to find another studio if things go awry, “I put all the scenes that I couldn’t fit in the comic back in the screenplay, to the point where the screenplay is actually better than the original comic,” he said. And because it’s better, it got good reviews, and those reviews are having “quite a positive effect,” Morrison said. “We’re going out with it now to the studios, and a lot of studios are interested. It’s looking as good as it’s been in a long time.” When the film gets produced, it is Morrison’s wish that the dog, cat, and rabbit—otherwise known as Weapons 1, 2, and 3—would be CGI while the rest of the film is live-action.
In June 2007, Tim Story, director of both Fantastic Four films, was confirmed to direct the big screen adaptation for Warner Bros. The studio hired Jamie Vanderbilt to adapt the comic, working from a first draft by Peter Berg who was originally attached to direct. Berg and Weed Road’s Akiva Goldsman and Kerry Foster are producing. Also producing is Sarah Aubrey, Berg’s partner at Film 44, and John Cameron, who brought the project to Film 44.
Story’s feature adaptation will be set in contemporary times, with the special ops team carrying out missions around the world before the members are left for dead. Flying under the radar, they return and move around the U.S.
Series writer Andy Diggle blogged at the time, “I’d love to see Nathan Fillion as Clay, Rosario Dawson as Aisha, Simon Pegg as Jensen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Pooch, Gael Garcia Bernal as Cougar and Jack Nicholson as Max.”
In October, Tom Cruise and Sam Raimi were confirmed to be producing to the film for Warner Bros. They are currently working on adapting the Ed Brubaker series to film, in which Cruise may star with newcomer Brad Inglesby attached to write. Brubaker stated in an interview that he doesn’t have many high hopes this time because this is “at least the fifth time where there has been a serious attempt on adapting the story."