Both Fox and Disney will be taking a crack at adapting 20,000 Leagues, with Disney opting for a Captain Nemo origins tale and Fox choosing a straight adaptation.
Late last year we got news that X-Men director Bryan Singer had finished work on a new script for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The director’s gotten a new lease of life with his work on Days of Future Past; so the idea of Singer taking on a sci-fi institution like 20,000 Leagues is exciting to say the least. But why should Fox have all the fun? Why can’t the wonder of a classic Jules Verne’s adaptation be shared around? Well apparently it can, because Disney is also making one.
The news according to Screenrant is that Disney has plans to make its own take on the voyages of the mysterious Captain Nemo. Not only that, they’ve also nabbed themselves a director in the form of James Mangold. The plan is that the film, titled Captain Nemo, won’t be a direct adaptation. Instead, it’ll take an origins-style look at Nemo.
In case you’re not familiar with Mangold, he’s had a varied directing career. Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma and Knight and Day are just a few of his notable works, not to mention The Wolverine. Mangold will also be working on the third Wolverine outing, set for release next year. Looks like Mangold already has some experience creating origins stories for well established characters.
20,000 Leagues made its first appearance on the big screen in 1954. Kirk Douglas and James Mason starred and Walt Disney himself worked as a producer. The question is, will Disney be able to repeat the same level of success this time around? Both Dinsey and Fox have some big shoes to fill, given that the 1954 film is still the most successful 20,000 Leagues adaptation of any kind.
It seems indulgent for two studios to be working from the same subject matter. The good news is that they’re clearly going in very different directions. Also, 20,000 Leagues is one of those stories that could really benefit from some excellent visual effects. Just think of what a modern effects studio could make of deep sea battles between primitive submarines and tentacled monsters? Having two different 20,000 Leagues just gives Hollywood twice as many cracks at getting it right.
This isn’t the first time we’ve had this issue with multiple adaptations. We’ve already heard tell that there are Robin Hood adaptations from multiple studios in the works. What other classic characters from literature are going to suffer these kind of schedule clashes? Are Nicholas Hoult and Will Poulter going to come to blows over who’s playing the best Huckleberry Finn? No, that’s not happening, but how much would you want to see that?
It’s not clear yet how the scheduling of these movies will work out. Since Mangold will be working towards a 2017 release with the Wolverine sequel, it’s likely that Disney will have something in 2018/19 at the earliest. Fox has a little more breathing room since Singer doesn’t have any solid plans after X-Men: Apocalypse, which will be released later this year. As a result, Singer and Fox will start work on their adaptation this fall, which suggests they’ll hit theatres much earlier.
Watch this space for all the latest 20,000 Leagues adaptation