Fresh off his Newbery Award win earlier this week for The Graveyard Book, writer Neil Gaiman is already working with director Neil Jordan on the feature film adaptation.
"The Graveyard Book, even before publication, there were a lot of studios circling it like sharks," Gaiman said in a group interview on Friday in Los Angeles, where he was promoting Coraline. "I wound up going with Framestore, who are an English special-effects and animation house that wanted to get more into movies and who just inspired me with trust. I liked these people, and I wasn't having the kind of phone calls where they would say, 'So, obviously we change this, this and this,' which a lot of other people were [saying]."
Gaiman added: "[Framestore] didn't seem to have a problem with the fact that you're in a story that begins with an offscreen murder of a family just before the book begins."
Gaiman was intrigued by the prospect of Jordan's (The Brave One) directing Graveyard Book, and the two hit it off during their first lunch. "I felt like we were all talking about the same movie," Gaiman says. "The stuff that he is responding to, the stuff that he wants to do, is all the stuff that's in the book and is in [the movie] that I'd like to see."
Gaiman and Jordan are now hard at work on adapting the book for the screen. Gaiman describes his meetings with Jordan as "lovely" and "wine-fueled."
Another Gaiman work, the classic comic Sandman, has been the subject of film discussions almost since it was first published 20 years ago. Much as with Alan Moore's Watchmen, the prospect of properly adapting the series to film has been daunting. Gaiman's theory on Sandman: "The thing that will make a Sandman movie or a set of Sandman movies will be a filmmaker comes along with the amount of passion for the material that Peter Jackson had for Lord of the Rings. It's going to be one of those guys who's going to get it made."
Gaiman met with Warner Brothers executives Alan Horn and Jeff Robinov a few years ago to discuss the project, but those talks proved fruitless, he says. "I had to do a presentation to Alan Horn and Jeff Robinov," Gaiman says. "They get calls weekly about Sandman. They didn't really know what this thing was, and they didn't really know quite what to do with it. All they knew was that people want to make movies of it. So I went in and I did an hourlong presentation. We had the toys and the statues and stuff, and I talked them through the entire Sandman, the 10 volumes and so forth.
"At the end of it, Alan looked at me and said, 'Jeff and I have been talking recently about our biggest successes, which are the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films, and we feel what really made these films successful was the fact that you have a clear-cut bad guy. Does Sandman have a clear-cut bad guy?' And I said, 'No, Alan, it doesn't.' And that was the end. You knew at that point [it was], 'Oh, OK, then we're not interested.'"
For now, Gaiman is busy focusing on his many other projects, but he doesn't discount the possibility of a Sandman movie hitting screens one day. "It may happen one day."