The film rights to the Y: The Last Man series were acquired by New Line Cinema (a sister company to Vertigo), and in July 2007 screenwriter Carl Ellsworth and director D. J. Caruso were attached to the project with David S. Goyer as a producer. Caruso intended on finishing the script in the summer and filming during the fall of 2008. The script would be a rewrite of the original draft written by Jeff Vintar. Although Vintar's draft was faithful to the original comic book and considered by many to be a success, the higher-ups at New Line Cinema seemed unable to fully embrace the material. A subsequent draft by Vaughan himself, which departed from his own comic considerably, was even less successful in convincing the studio to proceed.
Caruso maintained that the source material was too much to be told in one film and his team decided to concentrate on the best first film they could, which would end somewhere around issue 14 of the comic series. The entire comic series as a whole would be plotted into three films. Actor Shia LaBeouf, who has worked with these writers for the films Disturbia and Eagle Eye, has previously stated that he is unwilling to play the role of Yorick. According to LaBeouf, the role is far too similar to the character Sam Witwicky, which he portrays in the Transformers series. In an interview conducted by collider.com, LaBeouf stated that there is still a chance that he would be starring. Caruso planned to use a real monkey, and not a CGI construct, to play Ampersand. Caruso also said he would like to have Alicia Keys for the part of Agent 355. Zachary Levi, who plays the lead in the TV series Chuck, has expressed interest in playing Yorick as he is a fan of the comic book series, even going as far as having his character Chuck Bartowski read the Y: The Last Man graphic novel in the episode "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler".
Caruso remained "loosely attached" to the project, but New Line refused to acquiesce on its development as a stand-alone film as opposed to the trilogy Caruso (who has since moved on to direct the science fiction film I Am Number Four) preferred.Caruso, maintaining "I didn't think that you could take Yorick's story and put it in to a two-hour movie and do it justice... I just feel like it's too much for one screenplay," ultimately walked away from the project.
In March 2012, former Jericho writers Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia entered final negotiations to write New Line's adaptation of the series, following in the footsteps of Vintar, Vaughan, and Ellsworth. J.C. Spink, Chris Bender and David Goyer were attached to produce; Mason Novick and Jake Weiner are executive producers. Reports in September 2012 suggested New Line was enthusiastic about the draft screenplay produced by Federman and Scaia, and had begun the process of meeting potential directors to hire for the project.
In January 2013, it was announced that Dan Trachtenberg will direct the film. In June 2013, producer David Goyer announced having "a script that’s as close as it’s ever been," and suggested the film could go into production in 2014. However, in January 2014, Brian K. Vaughan stated "It's my understanding that the rights to Y: The Last Man will revert to co-creator Pia Guerra and me for the first time in a decade if the planned New Line adaptation doesn't start shooting in the next few months." On September 24, Trachtenberg confirmed via Twitter the film was "Not happening. But it's in trusted hands (the creators)." In a subsequent interview he noted that in fact, "The rights reverted back to Brian quite a few months ago."
Why It Was Cancelled