David Fincher will return to the world of big-budget science-fiction filmmaking for the first time since Alien 3 with Walt Disney Pictures’ new adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

While there will naturally be major differences between Fincher’s take on the tale of Captain Nemo and the Mouse House’s previous 1954 film version (no singing Kirk Douglas, this time around), there’s been some question as to how much the new 20,000 Leagues would resemble Jules Verne’s original novel.

According to screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, the answer is… not a whole lot. When he sat down to speak with Cinema Blend about his upcoming scripts (which includes this year’s Contagion), Burns mentioned that there will be “very little” material that’s lifted directly from Verne’s literature, adding that his job “isn’t to turn a book into a movie, it’s to be inspired by the book and then go write a movie.”

Burns went on to clarify that he and Fincher are still planning on remaining true to “the spirit” of Verne’s novel, especially with regards to its three main characters: the brilliant-but-crazed Captain Nemo, Professor Pierre Aronnax, and the sailor Ned Land. The dynamic between the trio will apparently be heavily emphasized in the film, in between all the fantastical locales and sea-battles they engage in.

A more character-driven spin on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea would be most welcome, especially in the capable hands of Fincher, who excels at realizing complex and multi-layered individuals in cinematic form (see: his take on Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, among others). Nemo in particular is the sort of obsessive fellow who’d make for an excellent character study, with regards to how his frame of mind affects his relationships with others, his reclusive existence aboard the Nautilus, and dark worldview in general.

Now that Fincher has the benefit of almost twenty additional years of experience (not to mention, more creative control), his 20,000 Leagues project should be a much smoother production than Alien 3 was. The director has never been afraid to utilize cutting-edge digital technology in his films before, and this will be no exception; the plan is not only for 20,000 Leagues to be shot in 3D, but Fincher also expects the film to be almost 70% CGI (a la Avatar).

It’s partially for that reason – and because Fincher’s been busy completing post-production duties on his adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – that Burns says there’s a whole lot of pre-vis work that needs to be done before 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea can actually start filming. However, it doesn’t sound like a late spring/early summer 2012 production start date is out of the question just yet.

We will keep you posted on the status of Fincher’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in the meantime.

Source: Cinema Blend