‘Preacher’: Sam Mendes is your God now, Mark Steven Johnson!

Second only to Watchmen is the plight of Preacher being adapted to film and television. Over and over, will they or won’t they? The next challenger up to the block is Columbia Pictures, having attached Oscar winning director of American Beauty Sam Mendes to the project, thinking they can condense this sprawling epic down to a feature length film. They will certainly try.

Can they do it? Should they do it? It’s all irrelevant now, until production hell inevitably spits this project back into turnaround, and we await the next incarnation of the impossible dream.

Of course, this is all fine by me, but at the same time, I can’t say I didn’t breathe a sigh of release about Mark Steven Johnson, who did Daredevil, and then, with his shot at redemption, stunk the place up even more with Ghost Rider. And for good measure, he also wrote Elektra. So no, I didn’t have much confidence in that one.

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Comments

  1. This is a sad day for comic book fans.

  2. My books are still on my shelf, many good years of reading left in them.

  3. The idea of Preacher being a tv show is much better then a film. Preacher is just too condensed and long to have it produced as a two hour film. If you wanna do like 3 films then it can probably be done. But there’s too many characters, plot points, settings, and general themes going on to condense this into a short film.

    Maybe I’ll be wrong and it’ll end up being teriffic…..But somehow I doubt it.

  4. It came too late…this guy died from what I read:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=jZdHpCsx6-w 

    As for Ghost Rider – blame Nicolas Cage – from the behind the scenes he says that he didn’t want anything high brow – he just wanted an action movie – a monster movie.

    He probably could have made them change the script but he wanted a monster movie. 

  5. I would watch this furiously.  Hopefully it’s planned as series of films though.

  6. I think that long-form comics with definite endings are gold mines for Hollywood.  Just because they’re making a movie doesn’t mean they have to tie everything up at the end.  Not everyone has read it, so keeping the ending open-ended for the possibility of sequels is probably likely what they will do.  Hollywood loves sequels, and these types of comics have several built in.  I would guess the movie would adapt the first trade or two.  I’ve read a supposed copy of Brian K. Vaughan’s script for Y: The Last Man and essentially the ending is the end of the second trade with the astronauts.  So keeping the ending maybe kind of vague and open is I think what they’d be shooting for.  Sure, an HBO show by someone other than Mark Steven Johnson would be great, but I think a film by Sam Mendes is the best case scenario in terms of a film version.

  7. I don’t know if this will have mass appeal to warrant a series of films, and I don’t think you can condense it into one film either obviously. TV would have been better I think.

  8. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    They’re already breaking out the stencils and red paint for the protest signs.  

  9. Let’s focus on all that will end up really mattering in the end: did Ennis just get another payday out of this for his efforts? If it were me, I’d just as soon keep my creation in development purgatory forever as long as the suits had to keep re-upping with me.

    I don’t know how they will condense the story, but I know they can’t do any worse than whoever wrote that Variety article.

  10. Hmm, interesting.

    On one hand: Sam Mendes > Mark Steven Johnson. This is good.

    On the other: Is TV would have been better as a literal translation than film.

    That said, let’s think about this:

    As much as I love Preacher, the basic story is that of Jesse’s quest to find God. That journey COULD be a single film. You could cut out a lot of the side characters and subplots that expanded his journey, and still get the same theme across. It would take a much more thought-out adaptation, but you could still work in the nuances of honor and friendship and all of that. I don’t discount this as a possibility, even if it would piss off fans who want a more literal translation.

    Now, you COULD end the movie earlier than the end of the series, and hope for sequels, but I think this is a bad idea. Ennis’ story was broken into chapters, but the end of each chapter didn’t necessarily directly point directly to the larger theme. If you take something like Harry Potter, you can make a movie from one book and it works well as a whole movie. I just don’t feel as though Preacher would feel complete if it were stopped after 3 or 4 trades worth of material. So I’d caution against that unless your entire series is guaranteed, like the Lord of the Rings films. If you know you’re going to do three massive films, then I think you can take breaks on teh journey, as long as the audience knows that more are coming.

  11. Wasn’t that made? Wasn’t that called Dogma?

    And I don’t know about Harry Potter – maybe the first two films and the third succeeded in that but the others will probably be shit in condensing the books to a film like the fourth was and the fifth was (mostly the fifth film).

    And as for LotR – When I came out of that film a lot of people were whining that it’s not the whole thing. Eventually it worked but it would be hard.

    So like Watchmen – we’ll wait and see (probably not to the second part).

  12. who knows if he’ll even do it?  they just said they got it for him.  who knows?

  13. @chlop – It doesn’t matter if it was Dogma — There are many basic stories like that. That’s what Ennis’ tale was, at its heart. You still have it be about Jesse and Cassidy and Tulip, and Jesse’s quest to find God and hold him accoutnable for his actions. That WAS Ennis’ over-arching story.

     Re: Harry Potter — my point is that the way the books are structured, each one feels like a complete tale. Because the theme is simply "boy grows up to possibly be great wizard." With such a simple theme, you can tell a tale about one year of school and it feels like you’re getting a full story. With Preacher, it was designed in a much more serialized fashion. Everything is a leg or a detour or a sideroad in this journey. It would seem odd if a movie sets up a SPECIFIC premise (jesse seeks out God), but then drops you somewhere before that end. Example: It would be like The Wizard of Oz ending before Dorothy got to see the Wizard. Not much fulfillment on the premise.

    Re: LotR — I don’t know who was whining, but the movies made a lot of money and were exceedingly popular. But that’s not really my point. My point is that ALL THE MOVIES WERE FILMED TOGETHER. This means that they always KNEW there would be a next chapter, and if anyone whined about it not feeling complete, then they only had to wait a year and the next installment was there. Thus, if you want to get ALL of Jesse’s journey into a film, THAT’s the way to do it. Make sure you have all three budgeted and greenlit before you start one.

  14. If I said that Garth Ennis has damned this film to hell, and doesn’t want it made, would more people post?

  15. I’d be upset about this but I still don’t actually believe it’s going to happen.  I’ll save my hot air for when the casting is announced 🙂

  16. @daccampo – no one will release another middle earth fantasy folklore movie and expect to succeed after LotR.

    Spiderwick was different enough from Harry Potter to be released but I doubt anyone is making a Septimus Heap movie.

    I don’t know if someone would take the risk based on what the trailer must be: one man, one vampire, one chick, no god.  

    The Watchmen idea can be sold: Serious superhero movie, murder mistery,  etc. I’m basing this on the sales pitch.

    @josh  That is the power of the beard.

     

    And I can’t help but imagine:

    Preacher 4: The Redemption – in theaters near you 2018

    Previously on preacher: so we was like walking, and you know, searching god. but we got distracted. 

  17. @chlop – It’s hard to say what people will react to in a trailer.  Conventional wisdom would say that a trailer full of super heroes that no one in the general public recognizes with almost zero dialogue would turn people off, and yet the WATCHMEN trailer was a phenomenon.  There is no hiont of a murder mystery in the trailer itself, there’s no information at all.

  18. @chlop – not really sure what you’re saying here. I’m not talking about another fantasy movie. I’m talking about the fact that the LotR movies were all filmed at the same time — meaning that all three movies were greenlit at once. That’s something that happens a bit more these days. The 2nd and 3rd Matrix movies, for example, were shot together. My point is that if you tell the world: "we’re filming THREE Preacher movies and releasing one every Christmas" then you can actually end the first one without Jesse reaching the end of his quest.

    If you can’t do that, then Jesse needs to find God at the end of the first and only film. Because the whole premise is that quest (see Wizard of Oz example).

    Would Hollywood greenlight 3 movies shot back-to-back? It’s doubtful. But comic movies are HOT properties right now, so it’s not unheard of.

  19. Oh dear, Preacher would surely work so much better as a TV series than trying to condense it into a film. Then again, i dunno if they’d get away with all that cussin’ on TV!  ;o)

  20. I’m talking about the sales pitch. When you sell the idea to people with money.

    A serious super hero seems to work nowadays, there’s a murder mistery in the book, etc.  

    Oh – and someone being beaten and pushed from a window and other people getting beaten. Watch that trailer – there’s enough action and super heroy stuff to sell to people that just want an action flick. From that trailer it seems like super heroes with violence. An action flick. Rorschach jumping like a moron from rooftop to rooftop like Batman, and the blue guy is Superman.

    To me it seems that if someone will try to pitch Preacher (I haven’t read the comic) is: There is a preacher that has lost his faith in god, there’s a girl and a vampire. They are in search of god. It sounds like someone will pitch this like a C movie.

    Also Watchmen had publicity from Time magazine.

    Maybe I’m not giving producers enough respect but that’s what I imagine.  

  21. I’m talking about the sales pitch. When you sell the idea to people with money.

    A serious super hero seems to work nowadays, there’s a murder mistery in the book, etc.  

    Oh – and someone being beaten and pushed from a window and other people getting beaten. Watch that trailer – there’s enough action and super heroy stuff to sell to people that just want an action flick. From that trailer it seems like super heroes with violence. An action flick. Rorschach jumping like a moron from rooftop to rooftop like Batman, and the blue guy is Superman.

    To me it seems that if someone will try to pitch Preacher (I haven’t read the comic) is: There is a preacher that has lost his faith in god, there’s a girl and a vampire. They are in search of god. It sounds like someone will pitch this like a C movie.

    Also Watchmen had publicity from Time magazine.

    Maybe I’m not giving producers enough respect but that’s what I imagine.

  22. @chllop – Putting aside the fact that that’s not what PREACHER is about, I’m not sure who you are pitching the movie too.  It’s already owned by Warner Bros. and it’s already in early pre-production.  Pitching is over. 

  23. Have you ever drunk Baileys from a shoe?

    I’m saying "what were they thinking?". They will need to appeal to people that hadn’t read the comic and I don’t see a good way of doing that. 

  24. Well, that’s their job to appeal to people that haven’t read the book and they are generally pretty good at it.

  25. If this is gonna happen, I think Sam Mendes is a great choice. The tone and mood of Road To Perdition proves to me he can handle this kind of material.

    I’m with other people who say they’d prefer a series on HBO or Showtime. Not only could they get away with the more disturbing story aspects and adult content, but it wouldn’t have to be so truncated. But on the other hand, a TV series probably wouldn’t get anywhere near the budget that a Sam Mendes studio picture could get.

    I’m excited for this. Not that it’ll probably happen, but if it does Mendes is a good step forward.

  26. The Godfather is about a gangster family in the 40’s going to war with other gangsters.

    Jaws is about a big, man-eating fish.

    No Country for Old Men is about a lost bag of money, and a crazy guy who chases it.

    Pitches are stupid.

  27. But you can see elements of pitches: Action in The Godfather, a king kong type of thing in Jaws, and No Country is about a drug deal that went badly.

    I doubt those films didn’t need to satisfy the guy with the money. The question is will the audience get fooled with the trailer and a good movie will emerge or will we get what the trailer promises like in Watchmen where it seems like super hero action flick, and caped crusaders roaming rooftops.

    Also from what I understood, Jaws was changed from the book it was based on, so the question is who will it fool in the end? Peoplr that read the comic and expect that, or people that watch the trailer and expect Blade with Bruch Almighty… 

    If it will become Blade I don’t see the point. It is so overdone that there’s no need for another one. It’s like seeing The Pursuit of Happyness after seeing a much better movie that deals with the same subject. So many people probably haven’t seen the movie I saw but many people saw different versions of zombie movies so deciding to make 30 Days of Night isn’t such a good move since the worst outcome it will become just a slasher with vampires which it sort of did (zombie movies are usually slashers if someone didn’t understand comparing vampires with zombies), and it will be just another movie in a big pile and that increases the chance that other people have seen better films, so why add a subpar version of a chewed up idea which Preacher the movie might turn into.

    As I said, maybe I’m not giving enough credit to the makers of this movie.

  28. @josh: I’m sure Spielburg, the Coen Bros., and Cappa did a little better job pitching their films. lol

    In the end we dont know what this will be like….who knows? Maybe a condensed version of Preacher might actually be better. Or it could bomb as hell, that’s the ‘magic’ of film. We dont know what will happen to a film until you release it.

    But still a 2 hour film to condense 10 volumes worth of story is a little worrying. It still would’ve been better if they chose the HBO/Showtime route.

  29. But will a TV format work overseas? And it would be just another TV movie and there are a lot of channels to choose from.

    If it would be put in theaters it would be the only serious one probably since other people will be afraid it might reduce their revenue and change their release date.

    Also a movie can be advertised to infinity and it won’t be a "Thursday at 10" and more people than usual might download it if there isn’t a pull to go to the theater.  It won’t be another show to watch that you recorded in your Tivo, and being able to pause it or change the channel might hurt DVD sales – being able to vacuum during the boring parts or to talk on the phone or cook might hurt it. 

  30. Well in advertising I get your point chlop. But from telling the overall story it is better to tell in a TV format then a 2 hour film. Especially with how dense Preacher really is.

  31. Like The Princess Bride – we can have a kid to brake off each part because he doesn’t want to hear about sex. We can get some old guy to read it to his sick kid and those will be the transitional pieces.

  32. @chlop: So your vision of Preacher is mixing The Princess Bride?

    Bold indeed Mr. Chlop 🙂

  33. As long as Herr Starr yells "Inconcievable!" a couple times, I’m good for it.

  34. First off I have not read Preacher.  It is on my list of ever growing list of stuff I need to read and once I finish No Man;s Land and JLI, I will tackle this next.

    Daredevil was almost good. Ghost Rider was dog poop.  So anybody is an upgrade.  Sam Mendes is a about as ood as it gets.  I am calling it right now, Leo will be the title character. They worked together in the upcomig Revolutionary Road and Leo tends to work with the same people again and again.  Curious about thoughts from fans of the story.

     I am a little disappointed that this is going to be a movie rather then a HBO series.  Comic books are serielized stories, as is TV.  I would love to see more comics turned into TV shows.  TV can take its time to build a world and characters.  Powers is being turned into a TV show, which hopefully it takes off.  I think Y: The last man would also be a great TV show.

     

  35. If Leonardo Di Caprio plays Jesse Custer I shall probably cry and run to my mum for a big hug…

    …he could play Tulip though…

  36. I hate Titanic as much as anybody, but DiCapiro is actually a good actor when he’s got a good director behind him these days.

  37. The Beach was awesome!!!

  38. I liked him more so in Gangs of New York and The Departed.

  39. Agreed

  40. Gangs is one of my favorite movies, but not because of DiCaprio.  He was really sort of bleh in that movie, as was Cameron Diaz.  Granted, neither was written all that well.

    But it didn’t matter because of Daniel Day Lewis….Herr Starr?  That would just kick the ass.

  41. What’s eating gilbert grape – best performance. Or The Basketball Diaries.

    He ruined This Boy’s Life but that goes for pretty much everybody – even Robert DeNirro but I read the book so I’m biased.

    Spoiler to the movie Gangs of New York:

     

    We hate each other, love interest, we’re gonna fight, we’re really gonna fight. Man this is on! *explosions* the end…

    At least for me. Is there something after that? can’t remember really… It’s a blank. We hate each other, get the whole world to get some weapons and fight, talk a lot, wear my intimadation suit, shit we’re attacked…. The End

  42. I thought DiCapiro was cool in Gangs of New York, though that might be colored by the fact that A) that was the first movie I saw him in since the craptastic Titanic so low expectations to say the least and B) It’d take a lot for me not to like a Martin Scorsese movie, especially one about New York crime that includes the line "Ears and noses will be the trophies of the day."

  43. You could honestly make an entire two hour film from probably every Preacher trade paperback from one to ten. So unless they plan on doing something of that sort, then I don’t see how they will make a movie out of it.

    I’m okay with never seeing Preacher in live action but I would certianly check it out, just like I will with the Watchmen movie coming out. I could see it being a live action series on Showtime or even HBO were it was originally planned to be.

  44. No desire to see diet film version

  45. I’ll see it, but have no big hopes for it.

  46. i really loved preacher! i’m just not sure they could do it that well as a TV show or movie! ithink they should probably just leave it alone all together!

  47. Ideally, Preacher should be on HBO or Showtime.  There is NO way to adapt 60+ issues into a 2 hour movie. It took 3 hours to put Frank Miller’s 300 (6 issue mini?) on the silver screen. Actually ANY cable channel could step up (and get put on the map) by having Preacher presented uncensored.  Look at the channel FX success with Nip/Tuck, The Shield and Damages.

    Who would miss the Preacher Specials? Preacher: Saint of Killers, Preacher: Arseface

    Of course it is about money, so get the correct team together to produce the show, have the network properly market the product and this will be a cash cow. Lest I forget, let the fanboys and fangirls get a view at the Comicons to get the word out as only we can.  The DVDs will sell and the final act will be a blockbuster movie.

  48. 300 was barely two hours and they had to pad it up with Gorgo’s subplot and lots and lots of slo-mo in order to get it to there.  Nevertheless, getting Preacher into a two-hour movie is going to be nigh-impossible.

  49. "I’d love to make Preacher. But there’s no script. This is a typical Variety announcement, ‘Mendes to direct Preacher‘ – I wish! Basically they should have written, ‘Mendes in development with Preacher‘. What I’m doing is, I’ve gotta find a script. I’ve just got to get it written." – Sam Mendes

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