Trying to protect your novel or comic from the vultures that work in Hollywood must be a rough gig for any author. While a writer might be anticipating a call from Tinseltown, the prospect of a movie studio butchering their work has to inspire an equivalent level of apprehension. Unlike writing which is, for the most part, a solitary endeavor, film is a collaborative medium. If an author does decide to option their novel or comic to become a film, they must negotiate an executive producer credit as well. Otherwise, all of their hard work could easily be undone by a tyrannical producer who—for the sake of argument—wants to shoehorn a giant mechanical spider into their beloved project.
Apparently, Jon Peters, the producer behind Kevin Smith's famous Superman story, was almost responsible for shepherding Neil Gaiman's Sandman from page to screen. When Peters gave a copy of the film's script to Gaiman, the legendary scribe decided to sabotage the project by leaking the screenplay to Aint It Cool News.com.
"It was the worst script that I've ever read by anybody," Gaiman said in an interview with Rolling Stone.
"A guy in Jon Peters' office phoned me up and he said, 'So Neil, have you had a chance to read the script we sent you?' And I said, 'Well, yes. Yes, I did. I haven't read all of it, but I've read enough.' He says, 'So, pretty good. Huh?' And I said, 'Well, no. It really isn't.' He said, 'Oh, come on. There must have been stuff in there you loved.' I said, 'There was nothing in there I loved. There was nothing in there I liked. It was the worst script that I've ever read by anybody. It's not just the worst Sandman script. That was the worst script I've ever been sent.'"
Gaiman added: "I'm not sure if it would've been an action movie or quite what it would've been. It was a mess. It never got better than a mess."
Detailing the "really stupid" ideas in Peters' script, Gaiman explained: "It had giant mechanical spiders in it… Lucifer, Morpheus and the Corinthian were identical triplets. They were a family of identical brothers, and it was all a race to see who could get the ruby, the helm and the bag of sand before midnight on 1999, before the new millennium started, because whoever got it would be the winner. That was the plot." [via Variety]