Who doesn’t love a good Neil Gaiman adaptation? The British author is prolific, yet still manages to maintain a consistent quality and eccentricity in his work. With both American Gods and Good Omens currently enjoying TV adaptations, with Gaiman involved in their creation in some capacity, it’s a great time to be a Gaiman fan.
A bumper harvest of Neil Gaiman-penned projects are currently in development, and due to arrive on the big and small screen and elsewhere in the next few years. Let’s take a look at what has a release date, what is in development, and what might never come to be…
Neil Gaiman Movie Adaptations
Sandman – Development Hell
It’s meant with no disrespect to the terrific Coraline and Stardust when saying that Sandman is likely to be the biggest Neil Gaiman project to date at the movies… that is if it ever makes it there.
Originally seemingly moving jollily ahead at New Line Cinema after a switch from Vertigo, The Sandman movie adaptation has suffered its fair share of setbacks in the last few years, with writers Jack Thorne and Eric Heisserer both departing the project. The latter, who left in October of 2016, suggested that the adaptation might make a better TV show than a movie, which is a fair assessment of the sprawling, epic story.
At one point, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was attached to produce, star in, and perhaps direct the film, but he also dropped out last year. The latest news? Neil Gaiman addressed the possibility of a Sandman adaptation in a video recorded by The Verge editor Tasha Robinson at the recent SXSW festival.
“The Endless are owned by DC Comics/Time Warner and not by me,” Gaiman said. “I think as the days go on, as the years go on, the probability that a Sandman thing will happen, obviously, increase continually. But I have no say in anything.”
Will this adaptation ever make it to some size of screen? We’ll keep our ear to the ground.
Hansel & Gretel — Film Rights Acquired
Gaiman’s take on Hansel & Gretel arrived in graphic novel form in 2014, and the movie rights to it were promptly snapped up. Juliet Blake, who produced The Hundred-Foot Journey, is the person who’s picked them up.
No timescale, screenwriter, or director details have been made available since the 2014 acquisition.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane — In Development
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is a lovely book, and prior to its publication, it was revealed that the film rights had already been acquired, and a director was attached.
Focus Features is the company that was attached to the film, with the project having been bought by Tom Hanks’ production company, Playtone. Joe Wright — who directed Atonement, Hanna, and Anna Karenina amongst others — was said to be attached to direct.
That was back in February 2013, however, and there doesn’t appear to have been much progress on the project since then. It looks like a case of wait and see for now.
The Graveyard Book — In Development
This one seems to be stuck in limbo a bit. The original plan with the film adaptation of The Graveyard Book was that Henry Selick — who brilliantly realised Coraline in stop motion animation — would bring it to the screen. Disney had backed the project, but it put the brakes on it back in 2012.
However, since then, it appeared to come back to life as a live-action venture that was attracting the interest of Ron Howard (Rush, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind). Unfortunately that was back in January 2013. Collider asked Howard about the project in 2016, and the director seemed to have some hope for it as a possible future film.
More recently, last year in fact, Walt Disney Studios’ president of productive Sean Bailey told THR The Graveyard Book is something Disney is, wait for it, “excited about.” Do with this information what you will.
The Books Of Magic — Development Hell
A project that seems almost permanently stuck in development hell now is an adaptation of Gaiman’s comic book miniseries, The Books Of Magic.
Plans for a film date back to 1998, when Gaiman himself was attached an executive producer, and Warner Bros had the rights. It would be fair to say that the development process had problems, with both Gaiman and Paul Levitz eventually telling the studio that the screenplay they had developed did not bear much relation to The Books Of Magic anymore.
Back in 2006, Gaiman told Superherohype that he was looking to developing The Books Of Magic into a film or TV series himself, along with writer Matt Greenberg (who’d worked on early scripts for the project). There’s been no progress since, sadly.
Signal To Noise — Development Hell
Not much is known about this one. The graphic novel Signal To Noise was one Gaiman did alongside Dave McKean, and the plan was for McKean to turn it into a feature film.
As Gaiman says on his own website: “Neil is only helping here and there with it, reading over Dave’s script and helping him get financing.” He also confirmed that McKean had planned to direct the film. We’ve not heard more on it for some time, though.
Neil Gaiman TV Adaptations
Neil Gaiman signed a deal with Amazon Studios in 2018 (via Variety), which means, until futher notice, any new Gaiman TV adaptations will most likely appear on Amazon. Prior to the Amazon deal, Gaiman had a first-look deal with Fremantle, which is the studio that makes American Gods.
Interworld — In Development
Originally conceived for screen, Gaiman and Michael Reeves eventually put the Interworld story across in book form, where it was then in turn optioned in 2007 by DreamWorks Animation.
In 2016, it switched from the film to TV track when Universal Cable Productions announced that it would be developing Interworld into a TV show. The TV adaptation has Hamilton producers Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez in its corner, but we’ve not had any updates on the project for a while. More news as we hear it.
Anansi Boys — In Development
Production company Red was announced in 2014 as developing a mini-series adaptation of Anansi Boys for the BBC. However, now that Starz/Freemantle is producing American Gods, that plan seems somewhat confused?
We’ve heard mentions of Red developing Anansi Boys as a TV show from Gaiman over the years, but, more recently, Orlando Jones (who plays Anansi in American Gods) told Vanity Fair that Fuller and Green “wanted to spin it off and pursue that character.” Now that Fuller and Green are off of the American Gods TV show bandwagon, however, it’s unclear if this project will move forward.
Neverwhere — In Development
Back in 2015, Deadline gave us all hope when it reported that US movie and TV producer Mark Gordon has joined forces with The Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence on a new TV adaptation of Neverwhere, an urban fantasy that takes place in “London Below.”
Neverwhere began life as a 1996 TV series (featuring Peter Capaldi!) before being turned into a successful novelization and radio drama. Given that Gaiman has announced a Neverwhere sequel called The Seven Sisters, the timing has never been better for a TV adaptation of this beloved fantasy work. However, we haven’t heard any updates on the potential of this series since 2015.
Missing, Presumed Dead Adaptations
Gaiman’s Smoke And Mirrors short story has actually turned up online in film form as a finals film project by a student at Boston University, which you can see here. However, back in 2002, Harvey Weinstein took out an option on the story, with the idea of writing and directing it himself. It was set to be a short film, but it never, ultimately, happened.
Death: The High Cost Of Living
Warner Bros had been developing this one, potentially as a project for Neil Gaiman to direct himself. Rumors had linked Shia LaBeouf with the male lead, but as Gaiman told Vulture in 2010: “The new powers that be at DC and Warner basically closed everything down.”
Whilst Gaiman has admitted it may yet come back to life, it doesn’t sound like breath-holding is a good idea. Not, er, that it is at the best of times.
The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish
A good decade old this project, when Sunbow Entertainment looked to do an animated television adaptation of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish. Sunbow was seeking financing for the project, and footage was reportedly produced, but it didn’t get much further. A shame — the plan had been to mix 2D, 3D and photographic elements, with 2D hand drawn characters on top. Not to be, though. Sob.
This one was adapted by David S. Goyer, who told SciFi Wire back in 2004: “I think it’s the best script I’ve ever written.” He planned to direct the film take on Murder Mysteries, but the project stalled — and has remained stalled — when a studio wouldn’t back it. No word has been heard on a Murder Mysteries film for a good decade.
Please note: This article does not include released projects, or scripts that Gaiman has written based on other peoples’ books.