Just yesterday, we reported that Warner Bros.' adaptation of Neil Gaiman's classic comic book Sandman had brought on a new writer in Eric Heisserer (Hours). The project seemed to finally be picking up steam. And that report from The Hollywood Reporter seemingly confirmed that Joseph Gordon-Levitt had finally decided to both direct and star in the movie. Today, that is no longer the case.

The actor has announced his exit from the project on his personal Facebook page. He sites creative differences with New Line as the reason for his departure. At this time, it isn't known who will come aboard to direct, and if that director will star in the movie as Joseph Gordon-Levitt had planned to do. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has this to say about leaving the project in the lurch.

"So, as you might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, a while back, David Goyer and I made a producing deal with Warner Brothers to develop a movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Neil himself came on as an executive producer, we hired the excellent screenwriter, Jack Thorne, and we started in on the ambitious task of adapting one of the most beloved and boundary-pushing titles in the world of comics. I was pleased with the progress we were making, even though we still had quite a ways to go. Recently, as you also might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, the sorta "ownership" (for lack of a better term) of the Sandman material changed hands when Warner Brothers shifted the entire catalogue of Vertigo comics (an imprint of DC) to their subsidiary, New Line. And a few months ago, I came to realize that the folks at New Line and I just don't see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special, and what a film adaptation could/should be. So unfortunately, I decided to remove myself from the project. I wish nothing but the best for the team moving forward."

It appears that Eric Heisserer has replaced Jack Thorne. The new writer is said to be working from a treatment written by David S. Goyer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt came aboard to star and direct the Sandman adaptation back in December 2013. He later claimed that he would only serve as an executive producer, with Tom Hiddleston sought to play the lead character Morpheus. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt now out of the picture, perhaps Tom Hiddleston will reconsider the role. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also had this to say about his decision to bail on the comic book adaption, thanking the people who helped get the movie this far.

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"I'd like to thank all the great people I've had the opportunity to work with on this one. I've had a blast with and learned a ton from David and Jack. Niija Kuykendall, Greg Silverman, and everyone at Warner Brothers have been fantastic, as have Geoff Johns and everyone at DC. And it's been a particular privilege as well as a rocking good time getting to know Mr. Gaiman, whose generous insights and masterful work have certainly convinced me that the Lord of Dreams and the Prince of Stories are one and the same Endless pattern."

Sandman follows Morpheus, the personification of Dreams in a family known as The Endless, whose members represent other aspects of life such as Death, Delirium, Desire, Destruction, Despair and Destiny. The story follows Morpheus, who escapes after being held captive by a wizard for the past 70 years. He goes on a journey to get revenge for his imprisonment, while trying to rebuild his empire and adapt to the current society.

Jack Thorne (A Long Way Down) was attached to write the script back in 2014, but it isn't known if Eric Heisserer will rewrite his screenplay, or start over from scratch. New Line is hoping to turn this movie into a full trilogy, but that will surely depend on how Sandman fares at the box office. New Line hasn't set a release date at this time, and it isn't known when production may begin now that the project has lost its director and leading man in one fail swoop. What do you think?

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange