When Warner Brothers announced its slate of comic book films last year with no mention of the previously announced Sandman film, fans of the Neil Gaiman creation got worried the film might have been cancelled. Turns out it might be even worse than that.
Deadline is reporting that Warner Brothers is delegating any and all films based on DC Entertainment’s Vertigo line to it’s New Line Cinema arm. The reason given by Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. is that Warners has its hands tied trying to bring a shared universe together with the DC Comics films, and letting the Vertigo films become part of New Line’s 4 to 8 films a year means that there are a better chance of those films being developed and getting made.
New Line Cinema was founded by Robert Shaye in 1967. It built itself up by releasing the films of John Waters and re-releasing films such as Reefer Madness, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night of the Living Dead. These films established New Line’s identity as the studio that brought you quirky indie fare (Metropolitan, Rambling Rose, State and Main, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Boogie Nights and About Schmidt), low-budget horror (Nightmare on Elm Street series, Final Destination series, Critters, and Snakes on the Plane), before diversifying into comedies (Austin Powers series, The Wedding Singer, Wedding Crashers, and Semi-Pro) and Urban market films (House Party, Rush Hour and Friday series’, Love and Basketball, and Set It Off). New Line merged with Warner Brothers in 2008.
The studio is no stranger to films based on comic books, it was home to the Blade trilogy, The Mask, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, Spawn and A History of Violence. However, most of its non-sequel films only have budgets of less than $50 million dollars, and the ones that go above that mark don’t usually make their money back (see Town & Country, Son of the Mask, and The Golden Compass). So, if you were hoping that we’d actually see enough money spent to do Sandman right, it might not work out that way for you.
As for what the film slate will entail, in addition to Sandman, which has Joseph Gordon-Levitt attached as at least writer/director, there is the long-rumored Guillermo del Toro helmed Justice League Dark film (which features many former Vertigo characters in the cast), a Fables film that added Jane Goldman as a screenwriter in January of this year, and a 100 Bullets film that has been in development for a while.
Odds are we may be hearing more about this in a week when the San Diego Comic Con opens.