When someone drops David Fincher’s name, most people think sinister murder mysteries, serial killers, Tyler Durden – and, nowadays, antisocial programmers (thank you, The Social Network). Now the dark auteur will try his hand at handling dangerous sea creatures and a renegade submarine captain in a new cinematic version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Walt Disney Pictures has officially confirmed that Fincher is set to helm a new adaptation of Jules Verne’s 19th century sci-fi adventure, which was most famously adapted for the big screen back in 1954, under the supervision of Walt Disney himself (he produced, but did not direct the film).

Jon Favreau chatted with Hero Complex yesterday about why he’s not directing Iron Man 3 and mentioned that Fincher would be at the helm (no pun intended) of Disney’s new 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea adaptation. While word leaked out last spring that Fincher was in negotiations to direct the sea-faring adventure pic, Disney studio execs have at last officially confirmed that the Oscar-nominated filmmaker is onboard (again with the submarine puns…) for the expensive, F/X – heavy project.

Fincher is currently in the midst of production on his English-language adaptation of the Swedish crime thriller/mystery, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Post-production on that flick will be complete in the latter half of 2011 and it’s likely that Fincher will be quick to set to work on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea shortly thereafter – similar to how he took little time off between completing The Social Network and beginning production on Dragon Tattoo.

A casual dinner scene from Disney's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'.

The story at the heart of Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea revolves around the maniacal Captain Nemo, an obsessed professional type who controls dangerous technology – not to mention, engages in a number of violent encounters with everyday sailors and sea monsters – via his futuristic deep-sea vessel, The Nautilus. Disney’s previous cinematic adaptation of Verne’s novel was by and large a family-friendly affair that even featured a couple of catchy tunes sung by its leading man, Kirk Douglas. Expect Fincher to deliver a significantly darker and rugged take on the ocean exploration tale.

Between Fincher tackling 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Favreau directing Disney’s Magic Kingdom pic, and Guillermo del Toro working on a reboot of the Haunted Mansion movie, the label “Disney theme park ride-turned film” might actually become less of a stigma in the future. There’s also the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean on the horizon, but moviegoers probably know by now whether or not they adore, casually enjoy, or rather loathe what that franchise has to offer.

Look for Fincher to begin production on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by late 2011, with a late 2012 or Summer 2013 release date in mind.

Source: LA Times