Is Netflix the right home for The Sandman?

The sand man, Neil Gaiman’s seminal and iconic exploration of dreams, fantasy and the occult, is getting a lush adaptation on Netflix. Commonly described by Norman Mailer as “a comic strip for intellectuals”, The sand man is one of the finest pieces of storytelling and art we’ve seen in the comic book genre. He is said to be thought-provoking, thought-provoking, philosophical, and unwilling – or perhaps unable – to confine himself to any given category. Like its famously elusive protagonist, The sand man flows, twists and turns throughout a story that remains engaging, even if not always accessible.

The show’s reviews were strong from the start; it currently stands at an impressive 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics call it faithful to a flaw in its source material, praising its production values, ambition, and drive to bring Gaiman’s vision to life. The sand manThe positive reception of is a victory in itself; as Alan Moore watchmen, Gaiman’s graphic novel was often considered too inflexible for mainstream adaptation. The word “unfilmable” often accompanied its title, despite several attempts to stage it.

So why now? Why is it a good time to adapt The sand man? If anything, now is the worst possible time to do it. We live in the age of “content”, when entire movies can be deleted to maximize profits and investments. Artistic integrity takes precedence when CEOs and studio heads have to answer to Wall Street. Does it make sense to release a notoriously inaccessible project in such a climate? And is Netflix, the king of impatience, the right home for a story that stands out for its slow approach?

The problem with Netflix

Netflix logo

Netflix kicked off the streaming boom we’re living in now, building its empire through acquired and, eventually, original content. The streamer has become known as the land of “yes,” throwing big bucks at top talent in a bid to position itself as a legitimate film and TV studio. And it worked… well, sort of, anyway.

Although not without flaws, Netflix has an impressive collection of original films, many of which have become major players in awards season. The streamer also has a slew of certified hits, with projects like Above Average Extraction and the truly pitiful red notice ranking among his most streamed films to date. However, this winning formula is already showing glaring cracks, leading many to believe that the mighty empire will crumble sooner than expected.

For starters, Netflix is ​​impatient. If something isn’t a hit right off the bat, the streamer pulls the plug without hesitation. Promising shows that might have found an audience over time, like I don’t agree with this, Raising Dionand The societyget axed with little to no explanation. Deadline reported that the recently canceled First murder failed to meet Netflix’s threshold for episode completion, adding further insight into how the streamer treats its properties. With Netflix, it’s all about metrics. No one knows anything except the algorithm.

Will the measurements be activated The sand manside ? Gaiman’s comic is a slow burn if ever there was one, with heavy and, at times, demanding themes mixed into a story that tries and barely manages to act more traditional. The sand man deftly juggles metaphysical concepts and ideas, personifying them with compelling characters that make the journey more engaging, if not necessarily more digestible. On paper, it works thanks to the sharp and insightful words of Gaiman, who, along with the richly unique art of numerous artists, including Sam Keith and Bryan Talbot, construct a world of fantasy and awe that beautifully and accurately conveys its ambitions.

by Netflix The sand man achieves the impressive feat of reproducing the striking visuals of its source material in service of its abstract story. However, keeping the flow and themes of the story mostly intact could shoot himself in the foot, especially when the place he lives is infamous for being in a perpetual state of rush. Viewers will find The sand man difficult, as it should be. It’s a work of art that rewards patience and commitment, two things Netflix typically doesn’t understand.

How can the streamer expect this bold project to resonate with the very audience he trained to disengage from slow storytelling? Is Netflix ready to take the time to grow The sand man, or does he expect to triumph on name recognition alone? Do The sand man even have that kind of attraction with modern audiences? This isn’t your average DC property; The sand man cares more about the spectacle that takes place inside. It’s not the witcherand it is certainly not game of thrones. The sand man is its own thing, a corner of fantasy inhabiting a place where the real awe comes from ideas rather than execution. Does Netflix understand this? Does he even want it?

Who’s talking about this?

Tom sturridge as morpheus stands with his back to the camera in an image from neil gaiman's adaptation of the sandman.

Returning to First murderits showrunner, Felicia D. Henderson, also blamed Netflix’s lack of marketing for the sudden cancellation of the show. Indeed, the streamer is infamous for never putting any marketing effort into some of its freshman shows, and for years it didn’t need to. People have ended up watching anything on Netflix out of boredom or genuine engagement with the platform’s catalog. Shows like Virgin River are massive hits on the streamer, but no one ever talks about them, to the point that many people might not even be aware of them.

Recent developments have proven that Netflix’s formula is unsustainable. Word of mouth can do wonders for a project – it drove the superior Top Gun: Maverick to a huge $1.3 billion At the box office. But word-of-mouth can’t do much, especially for original projects without a built-in fan base. Most Netflix cancellations come from audiences who weren’t aware of the show in the first place; how can they look at something they don’t even know exists?

To be fair, Netflix has put in a huge marketing effort to support The sand man. Their campaign leaned heavily on Gaiman, recognizing him as the true star of the property. In a bizarre but admirable choice, the series chose not to cast any real stars. Of course, there’s Gwendoline Christie – a truly inspired choice to play Lucifer Morningstar – plus Stephen Fry and even Patton Oswalt. However, it lacks a big Hollywood star, the kind of actor that would make sense in a big IP like this; there is no Henry Cavill here, no Winona Ryder or Jason Bateman. Netflix has already pulled off this trick with great success, casting mostly unknown actors in some of its greatest hits – Bridgerton, I have never, and Haunting shows come to mind. But do audiences expect anything more from its comic book content? The sand man might have benefited more from having a “leading man” in the title role.

The Sandman | The world of infinity | netflix

Aware that Gaiman alone would not sell the series, The sand man lived up to its geek credentials by having a significant presence at this year’s Comic-Con. The show had a panel with most of the major cast members, dropping a trailer that looked promising and gave fans hope for a show that wouldn’t bastardize the source material like many other Netflix adaptations do – I’m looking at you, Persuasion. But was it enough? No, it wasn’t. Any noise The sand man could have caused was nearly drowned out by the roar which came courtesy of HBO Dragon House and the avalanche of news from Phases 5 and 6 of the MCU. Even DC’s crummy panel had more impact than The sand man‘s, mostly due to a crush on Dwayne Johnson.

Netflix tried to generate buzz for The sand man, but did he try hard enough? Any effort seems considerable when all that has gone before is virtually non-existent. However, the streamer doesn’t seem to understand that a good marketing campaign can be the difference between a hit and a flop. Netflix can no longer survive on reputation alone, mainly because its reputation is in the gutter. And while most of the industry is currently too focused on hating Warner Bros. Discovery for its treatment of HBO Max, Netflix doesn’t have enough goodwill to throw a major IP into a vacuum and hopes it will work on name recognition and loyalty alone.

A match made in hell

Tom sturridge sits on a bench with kirby howell-baptiste in a scene from the sandman.

So what is the future of The sand man on Netflix? In the best-case scenario, under Netflix’s desired metrics, the show will run for three seasons before ending quietly and unceremoniously. Fantasy shows seem to be hit and miss on Netflix. the witcher was very strong from the start, but season 2 saw a huge drop in audience interest. Also, projects like locke and key and even shadow and bone are far from the streamer’s most impactful entries, even if they perform well enough to guarantee an extended stay in the catalog.

On the other hand, the worst case scenario is The sand man crashes and burns, leading Netflix to pull the plug earlier than expected. I don’t see that happening, though; Netflix will want to save face and give the show a second outing before deciding its fate, especially given Neil Gaiman’s prominent involvement.

The oldest game | The Sandman | NetflixPhilippines

Like every other streamer and network, Netflix is ​​on the hunt for its next big franchise – the next game of thrones. Unfortunately, The sand man is not it. Idea-rich instead of world-building, Gaiman’s work is meant to be enjoyed, analyzed, dissected, and enjoyed. However, it is somewhat limited in scope; The sand man is not the type of property that can produce endless spinoffs by focusing on the past and future of its surroundings. The potential for fallout that it either has has already been done (Lucifer on Fox) or is under development for another platform (Constantine and Dead Boy Detectives for HBO Max). That’s out of place, as the complexities of the series come from within, offering very little in terms of exploitation and open franchise. If Netflix thought The sand man was his next big thing, he thought wrong, and I think he knows it. Some dreams are best left unfulfilled.

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