Two Remakes of 20,000 Leagues Underway?


Poster for Disney's 1954 version of 20, 000 Leagues
Poster for Disney's 1954 version of 20, 000 Leagues

According to The Hollywood Reporter Sci-fi classic 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA is set for not one, but two remakes. Both Disney and 20th Century Fox  are trying to get a remake in the works, with the former lining up David Fincher (FIGHT CLUB, ALIEN 3) and, the latter Timur Bekmambetov (NIGHT WATCH, WANTED), to direct.

20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA is a classic science fiction novel by Jules Verne and was published in 1869. LEAGUES tells the story of Captain Nemo and his underwater adventures in his submarine, Nautilus, and has been subject to numerous television and movie adaptations over the years. As the story is now in the public domain it’s relatively easy for anyone to make an adaptation, without the needs to purchase rights from the copyright owners. As such, two studios are plunging into the depths once more.
Disney originally had McG (TERMINATOR: SALVATION, CHARLIE’S ANGELS) working on a version of the film but ultimately thought it ‘too dark’. The studio is now in negotiations with David Fincher to direct and Scott Z. Burns (THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, CONTAGION) to write the remake. As surprising as it sounds (this is the man that brought us ZODIAC after all), Fincher apparently approached Disney’s new production head Sean Bailey himself stating his wish to tackle a major blockbuster film for the studio. Nothing is set in stone as of yet but Fincher and Burns have entered talks for deals.
Meanwhile 20th Century are also hard at work on their own version, which is said to be set in the future. Scott Free Productions (Ridley and Tony Scotts’ production company) are helming the film for the studio which is being written by Travis Beacham (CLASH OF THE TITANS)/ Again, no director is officially attached but Fox are apparently hoping to get Bekmambetov on board. Fox’s project quietly kicked-off shortly after the writers strike when Beacham is said to have approached the Scotts with his take on the story, which the studio then bought.
So it’s battle stations go as the two studios go head-to-head, each presumably hoping to get their version of the film out first. Hollywood is no stranger to this sort of affair, we currently have two versions of THE THREE MUSKETEERS coming up and there were the two films focusing on Truman Capote which were released a few years back. All things considered, which version are you more excited about?

Captain Nemo Double Bill

On Sunday, the American Cinematheque concludes its 7th Annual Festival of Fantasy, Horror & Science-Fiction Films with a double bill of titles inspired by Jules Vern: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954) and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961), starting at 7:30pm in the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. It’s been an age since I’ve seen the latter film (which is one of the best to feature stop-motion monster by Ray Harryhausen), but 20,000 LEAGUES has shown up on the big screen here in Hollywood several times in recent years, usually when Walt Disney Pictures is ginning up a little promotional buzz for yet another release on a new home video format (first VHS, then laserdisc, most recently DVD). The nice thing about this is that Disney owns one of the best movie palaces on Hollywood Blvd, El Capitan, which dates back to the Golden Era of film-going; it’s hard to think of a more magical place to enjoy a classic film. I don’t think the Egyptian Theatre can quite match the experience, but that shouldn’t’t stop Los Angeles-area genre fans from taking advantage of this rare opportunity. Read More