Thursday, October 30, 2008

Preacher saved from development Hell?

This morning entertainment industry bible Variety announced acclaimed British director Sam Mendes is resurrecting a controversial comic book from Hollywood development hell. Created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, Preacher tells the story of an American churchman who discovers he can wield the voice of god. The preacher takes a road trip across the US in search of answers, in a story that had something to offend almost everyone [see below].

Preacher was snapped up as potential film fodder while it was still being published, with director Rachel Talalay attached for a long time. Considering how badly her adaptation of iconic British comics character Tank Girl misfired, some might consider it a blessed relief she never got to make Preacher. More recently there was talk of the Ennis-Dillon creation finding the promised land of production as a mini-series for pay cable channel HBO.

Now Mendes is having a crack, bringing his considerable creative clout to bear on the project. An esteemed theatre director, he won many plaudits for his film debut, American Beauty. Mendes has previous form when it comes to adapting comics for the big screen - his second feature Road to Perdition was based on a graphic novel. The helmer is back in the frame for potential Oscar glory this winter with a film of celebrated novel Revolutionary Road.

The big question is how closely can any film version of Preacher follow the source material? Is the world ready to see hillbillies humping farm animals? A suicidal simpleton with a face like an arse? Considering how some religious fundamentalists react to films that take an allegorical look at religion [The Golden Compass, for one], how will they feel about any movie based on a comic book that virtually nukes religious zealots from orbit?

It'll be interesting to see if Mendes came overcome the many hurdles that have scuppered this project in the past. He'll need plenty of courage for the battles ahead.

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