David Fincher’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ Moving Forward; No Brad Pitt

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:30 pm,

20000 leagues under sea remake David Finchers 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Moving Forward; No Brad Pitt

We spent most of last year guessing what project David Fincher is directing next, with Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake and Sony’s The Girl Who Played with Fire being the front-runners. The filmmaker entered negotiations to adapt Gillian Flynn’s mystery book Gone Girl in January, leading some to wonder if Fincher had tired of studio executives holding up progress on those bigger-budget adaptations (not to mention, pondering unreasonable cost-cutting measures).

Disney has been weighing the decision to move forward with 20,000 Leagues since last October, back when Brad Pitt was reported as Fincher’s preferred choice to play sailor Ned Land (marking their fourth collaboration). It appears that the Mouse House is finally readying to commit; however, Pitt is not onboard (no pun)… not yet, anyway.

THR is reporting that Disney executives and Australian federal arts minister Simon Crean are finalizing a deal that allows 20,000 Leagues to shoot for cheaper in the country (thanks to a rebate worth $19.2 million), before the studio officially green-lights production. Several publications based Down Under are reporting that Pitt is starring, but THR‘s source are claiming that’s (currently) not accurate.

Between Fincher planning to use 3D cameras on the project and estimates that the re-imagining of Jules Verne’s fantastical adventure novel will be 70% CGI, this is going to be a pretty expensive flick (maybe in the vicinity of $150-200 million). It requires more sound stage work and manpower that director James Mangold’s X-Men installment The Wolverine, which filmed last year at the Village Roadshaw Studios in Queensland (where location scouts are considering for 20,000 Leagues). Hence, Disney is keen to address budget concerns ahead of production, following on the heels of last year’s John Carter and this summer’s The Lone Ranger; both cost the studio a pretty penny more than desired.

Fincher’s broody and visually-subdued filmmaking tendencies don’t seem like an obvious fit for a big-budget Disney movie, which is probably another reason the Mouse House has been extra cautious about signing off on his version of 20,000 Leagues. In addition, the earliest script draft was penned by Contagion and Side Effects screenwriter Scott Z. Burns – again, not exactly the sort of ideal candidate for making inoffensive, all-audiences entertainment that Disney specializes in.

Here’s what Burns recently told The Playlist about his and Fincher’s approach:

“I think both of our goal was to make Captain Nemo, as he is in the book, a very complicated character, because there’s some things that he say says and explores that are really profound and amazing but there is some behavior that he engages in that is horrific and criminal,” Burns said. “And there’s a really interesting triangle, between him and Ned Land and the Professor, of three things that continue to march through time since the Industrial Revolution, and that’s technology and commerce and humanity. And these three things tugging at each other inside a submarine is what I wanted to get at.”

Burns’ original screenplay was revamped by Andrew Kevin Walker, who penned Se7en for Fincher (in addition to films like 8MM, Sleepy Hollow and The Wolfman). No doubt, their version of 20,000 Leagues is walking more on the dark side than Disney’s whimsical 1954 adaptation – or even the relatively darker Pirates of the Caribbean movies – and that makes it a riskier investment for the company. On the other hand, Disney is actively pushing to broaden its appeal (see: J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars: Episode VII for the studio and Lucasfilm) – and this could very well be an effective way to do just that.

More on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as the story develops.

Source: THR, The Playlist

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
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  1. Needs more Statham

  2. I liked the book but I read it when I was ten so I don’t remember much. It sounds like it could be a big and cool movie though. Maybe if this movie does well for being an underwater movie it will cause Warner Bros. to do a Aquaman film.

  3. I think it would be better without Brad Pitt.

  4. Personally, I woul rather have a remake of The Black Hole.

    • +1

  5. Going darker has helped to broaden Disney’s audience with Pirates. I thought that Leagues was to be a trilogy or franchise for them. I guess we will have to wait and see.

  6. I casted Tommy Lee Jones to play Captain Nemo and Ewan McGregor to play Ned Lad and Kirk Douglas making a special appearance playing Old Billy How does that sound ?

    • Tommy Lee Jones? LOL, he’s great but not Captain Nemo. Captain Nemo was actually Indian, but a lot of people ignore the fact unfortunately. They should just cast someone who can play a different ethnic culture greatly in other films before (like Viggo Mortensen or Johnny Depp). Tommy Lee Jones is 100% American in every single film he’s in.

      • Ok, try Viggo Mortensen

  7. Other Disney remakes to reboot Old Yeller, Lady and the Tramp, Swiss Family Robinson, The Cat from Outer Space, Watcher in the Woods, Pollyanna, The Happiest Millionaire, and Snowball Express

    • Haha oh man The Cat From Outer Space was my MOVIE as a kid!

  8. I’ve said it plenty of times here that I just want another David Fincher film as soon as possible.
    After hearing that he may adapt Gone Girl I thought it was a perfect match. Mostly because it wouldn’t be a two year production. But if 20,000 Leagues is closer to a go that’s fine bye me.

    • I’m probably going to get slammed for this but it’s a lazy Saturday and I feel the need to go on a semi-rant…
      IMO David Fincher is this generations Stanley Kubrick. There I said it, and I honestly believe it. 😉
      Over the past few weeks I’ve watched The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut and Full Metal Jacket again and as always I marvel at the craftsmanship of Kubrick’s films. The camera position and movement, the tone, sound and production design. When you get sucked into a Kubrick film you can sense that you’re seeing and hearing everything and only what he wants you to. Nothing is an accident.
      And when I watch a Fincher film it’s the exact same thing. Seven, Zodiac, Fight Club and The Social Network are all the work of a master craftsman. IMO you could cut and paste everything I just said about Kubrick and apply it to Fincher’s films.
      Also, when I watch The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo it feels like I’m watching a film that exists in the same movie universe as Eyes Wide Shut that will then turn into the future that’s A Clockwork Orange.
      I guess I’m done with my rant now. I doubt it made sense and there’s probably more than a few of my fellow Ranters who disagree but that’s fine. :)

      • While I see what you mean by your argument, I do have to respectfully disagree (to an extent). Both directors certainly do have a recognizable style and you can definitely tell when you’re watching one of their movies (they’re auteurs) so they are very similar in that regard. However, the same could be said of many other directors and their styles are extremely different. Therefore, I wouldn’t necessarily call Fincher the “Kubrick” of our generation because they’re both so unique from each other. I personally think Kubrick’s style is a little more overt (dare I say, a little over the top at times) whereas Fincher is much more subtle in his approach (yet he still packs a punch with what he does). I think Fincher is more of a “first of his kind” rather than any “big director” of this generation. I appreciate that you hold him in such high regard though, as David Fincher is definitely my favorite director. Didn’t mean to go on a rant myself (I hope my argument made sense as well), but I thought your post was interesting and worth discussing.

      • I agree! He is very much like Kubrick, even down to the (allegedly) demanding number of takes.

        Unfortunately, I don’t think the comparison is really all that good. Just as Kubrick is one of the most overrated directors in cinema, Fincher is the most overrated director working today. A lot of stylish straining to say something profound… but in the end, just emptiness.

        Se7en was probably Fincher’s best film… and that was a long time ago. (I would say The Social Network, but that movie was great more because of the acting and writing.)

        • I agree that Kubrick is overrated, but I don’t think Fincher is. His style doesn’t overpower the substance of his movies, at least in my opinion, which I think Kubrick did quite a bit. I was never aware that Kubrick did a lot of takes though, which is an interesting comparison. I think The Social Network is Fincher’s best movie, with Se7en at a very close second (or maybe a tie). You mentioned that the movie’s strengths lie mostly in the performances and the writing (which it certainly does, it’s as much Aaron Sorkin’s movie as it is Fincher’s) but it often takes a great director to get great performances and bring everything together. I mean, if he can get a respectable performance out of Justin Timberlake, there doesn’t seem to be a lot he can’t pull off. Except maybe an alien sequel (which was supposedly more of the studio interfering with what Fincher wanted to do)

  9. Here is the casting call:

    Captain Nemo
    (a)Viggo Mortensen
    (b)Alec Baldwin
    (c)Robert Downey, Jr
    (d)Dennis Quaid
    (e)Hugh Laurie
    (f)Pierce Brosnan

    Ned Lad
    (a)Jude Law
    (b)Ewan McGregor
    (c)Sam Worthington
    (d)Paul Walker
    (e)Leonardo Dicarpio
    (f)Chris Hemsworth

    Prof. Pierre Arronax

    (a)Patrick Stewart
    (b)Terence Stamp
    (c)Ian McKellan
    (d)Patrick Stewart
    (e)Christopher Plummer
    (f)Peter O’Toole

    • thats a good list right there imo i agree with those. maybe instead of a second Patrick Stewart it could be Jeff Bridges…just a thought

  10. Don’t care much for Pitt; he’s OK, but nothing special and not necessary for the $$$$ to make 20,000 Leagues a hit. I am excited to see the League movie, though, if done right. Nemo especially must be cast for the part with care, as in the right writer’s hands, he could be portrayed as such a complex and interesting character.

  11. I’m a fan of SF and fantasy. I can honestly say I have almost no enthusiasm for this project. Long before it’s release and undeserved fail, John Carter sounded promising. The Lone Ranger was also off my radar but the promo looks good. It’s a tough call.

  12. Well, looking at the old movie poster at the top of the article….the tip of the Nautilus…..Captain Nemo likes to stick it to his enemies. That old Disney version….I think it was the best movie Disney ever made.

  13. The only way I would see this is if they depicted Nemo EXACTLY how he is in the book … ARABIC instead of White/European. That’s the one thing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen got right.

  14. Hope its good!

  15. I see no hope for this project, especially if they decide for some stupid reason to update it for the 21st century. The thing that made the original story so fantastical was it was about a captain piloting a vessel that didn’t exist at the time but in an era where we have deep sea vessels everywhere, it becomes much more mundane.

  16. Thanks for your time for writing “David Fincher

  17. The Wolverine was filmed at Fox Studios in Sydney!Cheers Tom :)

  18. The Wolverine was filmed at Fox Studios in Sydney!Cheers Tom

  19. The Wolverine was filmed at Fox Studios in Sydney!

  20. Who cares about this. It’s been done a million times. More GWTDT.

  21. EMILE HIRSCH!!!!

    Brad Pitt is a huge name due to the tabloids but he is crappy actor! Cast EMILE HIRSCH!!!!