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Joseph Gordon-Levitt backs out of Sandman movie due to creative differences

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Actor was going to produce passion project

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has backed out of the planned Sandman movie, three years after he helped to get a film version of Neil Gaiman's classic comic greenlit. In a Facebook post this weekend, the actor said he made the decision to walk away from the movie after he realized that he and studio New Line Cinema "just don't see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special, and what a film adaptation could/should be."

Sandman appeared to be a passion project for Gordon-Levitt, who first confirmed he'd be producing an adaptation in 2013, and was long rumored to be taking a starring role. The project was initially underway at Warner Bros., but Sandman— like all properties from DC Comics' Vertigo imprint — was shuffled down to New Line Cinema last year, a change that seems to have caused some creative friction.

RE: SANDMANSo, as you might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, a while back, David Goyer and I made a...

Posted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Saturday, 5 March 2016

Gordon-Levitt's departure comes a day after it was announced that Final Destination 5 writer Eric Hesserling would be writing the script for Sandman's movie adaptation. It's not clear whether this move prompted Gordon-Levitt's decision, but Hesserling replaced Jack Thorne, chosen for the same role by Gordon-Levitt and colleagues in 2014, and name-checked as an "excellent screenwriter" in the actor's Facebook post. Neil Gaiman is given special mention in the same post, Gordon-Levitt thanking Sandman's writer for his "generous insights and masterful work."

Gaiman returned the favor in a tweet, calling Gordon-Levitt "special," but made it clear to fans that he doesn't own Sandman and can't choose scriptwriters, cast, or crew. Production continues on the movie, but with its most visible cheerleader gone and its creator making it clear that he can't guarantee it'll be any good, the future could be a nightmare for fans of Gaiman's Dream.