For years, Hollywood has been attempting to get a modern adaptation of the classic Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea off the ground. For a while, David Fincher was attached to direct such a project, but the film was canceled in the summer of 2013 for a variety of reasons, including scheduling conflicts and a whopping $200 million budget. But the movie's hopes of reaching the big screen didn't die when Fincher departed. It opened the door for another filmmaker to take a crack at the story.
X-Men: Apocalypse director Bryan Singer took advantage of the opportunity, revealing in fall 2015 that he had finished up a script for a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea film. As a big fan of the original book, this was a passion project for Singer and he hoped to make it his next film in between X-Men installments. That dream is about to become a reality, since Singer is now officially signed on to helm 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Deadline broke the story, saying that Singer has closed a deal with 20th Century Fox (with whom he's had a fruitful partnership). The plan is to begin production this fall, which means the director will begin the casting process in the near future. Singer will be working from the script he shared on social media last year, by Rick Sordelet and Dan Studney. In addition to helming the film, Singer is also producing with Jason Taylor of his Bad Hat Harry Productions. No release date has been selected yet.
Singer seemed very grateful to be attached to the film, saying, "Ever since I was a boy and first discovered the 1870 Jules Verne novel, I have dreamt of retelling this classic story." From the sound of it, his version will not be drawn exclusively from the book. Singer notes that characters like Captain Nemo, Ned Land, and Professor Aronnax are still present, but they will be joined by "new and original characters." In addition, Singer will utilize "sci-fi plot twists" to make 20,000 Leagues an entertaining adventure anyone can enjoy. How these new elements are incorporated into the narrative will go a long way in determining the final product's quality.
One thing that isn't in question is Singer's capability of handling the material. A veteran of the X-Men films, the filmmaker is no stranger to works of a grand scope and scale. He just came off of Apocalypse, which has frequently been described as the biggest X-Men movie yet. There's no word on 20,000 Leagues' production budget, but it most likely will not be cheap to make. Fox knows that Singer will not be out of his element working on what could be a franchise starter, which is what makes him such a suitable choice. And thanks to their previous success together, the studio is more than comfortable handing this off to Singer.
If there are any red flags at this juncture, it's that outside the X-Men universe, Singer's track record is not that great. In 2013, his Jack the Giant Slayer failed to impress critics or audiences, grossing just $197.6 million worldwide on a $195 million budget. That said, Singer cares very deeply about the 20,000 Leagues source material and will work very hard to do the story justice. This is something he's had his eyes on for some time, so he's going to make sure each aspect is as strong as it can be. Hopefully that love and admiration can translate into an exciting film that brings this legendary tale to a new generation.
We'll keep you updated on the development of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.