Preacher: Why One of Comics' Most Revered Properties Might Never Become a MovieS

The Garth Ennis-Steve Dillion comic — about a man of the cloth, his ex-assassin girlfriend, and their Irish vampire bud — got a shot of class when Sam Mendes signed on to direct. That was nice while it lasted.

Preacher ain't had it easy in Hollywood. Back in the late '90s, Tank Girl director Rachel Talalay was on board to shoot the religiously frisky story of Jesse Custer, an ex-preacher on a quest to hold God accountable for his actions, based on a script by Garth Ennis himself. When that fell apart, it languished until HBO stepped up and hired Ghost Rider's Mark Steven Johnson to develop it as a series. Then came a regime change at HBO and they kicked it aside for being, well, too religiously frisky. In late 2008, Columbia picked up the rights, brought Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) into the mix, and then got big-leaguer John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) to write the script. Which, according to producer Neal Moritz, is terrific:

We've got a great script...John August wrote a script that I think is terrific. The hardest thing was with all the books — the Preacher books — was how to distill it down. And he made the smart decision instead of trying to cram everything into one, there's plenty of room for two or three movies. So that's what he's done, and he's done a really faithful adaption, but made it probably more accessible to a broader audience right now. That movie's definitely R-rated and it's an amazing central character.

But not terrific enough to keep Mendes from leaving the project to go direct the next James Bond movie. So where does that leave poor Jesse Custer? Ironically, in a very particular ring of hell: development hell. Alas, he shouldn't say there too long, as Preacher is terrific material with both a studio willing to make it and an apparently great script ready to go.

(Via MTV Splash Page)