By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
An ‘Epic Original Series’One of Neil Gaiman’s best known and most influential works, The Sandman, is in development by Warner Bros. Television for Netflix for a live-action series of at least 10 episodes, according to today’s (July 1) announcement from the streamer.
Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman, Sex and the City) is show runner with David Goyer (The Dark Knight, Foundation) and Gaiman, all three of them to co-write the initial episode and all three of them executive producing.
The Sandman, which focuses on Morpheus or Dream, originally was published by DC Comics from 1989 to 1996, and had 75 issues. From the 47th issue, it was released under the Vertigo imprint.
Many early reports of the deal are citing unnamed sources who say it’s “the most expensive series that DC Entertainment has ever done” (Lesley Goldberg, Hollywood Reporter). No one in the news media seems to have the actual figures, but the rumors of big bucks have led AV Club to headline Sam Barsanti’s write “Netflix Is Throwing a Ton of Money at a Sandman Adaptation” and Gizmodo to headline Charles Pullman Moore’s write-up “Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Is Becoming an expensive Netflix Series.”
In a prepared statement released to the news media by Netflix, Channing Dungey, vice-president for original series, is quoted referring to the “brilliant team” of Gaiman, Goyer, and Heinberg being the right trio “to finally bring Neil’s iconic comic book series, The Sandman, to life onscreen.
“From its rich characters and story lines to its intricately built-out worlds, we’re excited to create an epic original series that dives deep into this multi-layered universe beloved by fans around the world.”
As Joe Otterson at Variety notes, “This marks the latest in a growing number of Gaiman’s works to be adapted for television. Starz recently ordered a third season of American Gods, while Amazon debuted the series adaptation of Good Omens last month,” based on Gaiman’s 1990 book with the late Terry Pratchett. “Meanwhile, Lucifer was revived by Netflix for a fourth season after Fox canceled it, though it was announced that the show’s upcoming fifth season will be its last.”
At Hollywood Reporter, Goldberg writes, “The Sandman deal will provide a financial windfall to Warner Bros., which is in final negotiations for a new film and TV pact with J.J. Abrams that could be worth north of US$500 million. Sources note that the studio opted to sell [the Gaiman work] to a third party in a bid to bring additional revenue to the company rather than placing it at its forthcoming streaming service.”
Goldberg also describes the Netflix acquisition mode of the moment as being focused on “exclusive new takes on beloved franchises.”
Welte Leads HarperCollins Germany
Tuesday (July 2), Jürgen Welte begins work as the newly appointed managing director of HarperCollins Germany, beginning a transition period with the outgoing Ralf Markmeier.
Welte began his career in publishing in 1992 and joins HarperCollins Germany from Holtzbrinck’s Rowohlt Verlag, where he was managing director of sales and marketing with oversight including advertising and digital operations.
Markmeier had joined HarperCollins Germany from Verlagsgruppe Random House. His appointment was announced in 2017 and he began work in January 2018, making his stint with HarperCollins a scant 18 months long. The company is reporting that he’s leaving of his own volition, “to pursue a new opportunity.”
Media messaging says that Welte’s remit will be “the company’s day-to-day operations” and the responsibility “to establish strategic and publishing direction, and drive business expansion in Germany.”
In a prepared statement, Chantal Restivo-Alessi, CEO of the international foreign language publishing division at HarperCollins, is quoted, saying that Welte’s background ion publishing, “combined with his focus on digital, extensive marketing experience, and knowledge of the market, make him an excellent fit for our continually growing publishing program in Germany.”
Restivo-Alessi also has good words for Markmeier, saying, “Ralf Markmeier’s publishing expertise and careful guidance has helped HarperCollins Germany thrive and deliver strong results. Ralf has helped us lay the necessary foundations for our future growth in all areas of our business. I would like to thank him for his leadership and wish him all the best in his next endeavor.”
For his part, Markmeier is quoted, saying, “Being part of HarperCollins was a great experience. I’m still fascinated by the international cooperation within HarperCollins worldwide—the professionalism and commitment, combined with the entrepreneurial freedom, made this period an outstanding and successful one in my career. I have to say special thanks to Chantal Restivo-Alessi and my exceptional team in Hamburg,”
HarperCollins is a subsidiary of the Rupert Murdoch family’s News Corp. and operates in 17 countries now, producing some 10,000 books per year in 16 languages and standing as the second-largest publisher in the world after Penguin Random House.
In Germany, Markmeier had followed Thomas Bechmann, who retired after 18 years. HarperCollins Germany was formed in 2015 out of the existing operations of Harlequin in Germany, which was started in 1986.
More from Publishing Perspectives on books to screen is here, and on the German market is here. More from our Industry Notes series is here.