Despite the prospect of receiving a a one-off incentive payment of $22.5 million from the Australian to produce director David Fincher’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea in their country, Disney has quietly pulled the plug on the big budget film. The Playlist is reporting that budget concerns for the proposed $200-million project was the reason behind its demise and not even the incentive payment could ease their concerns over the price tag. For his own part, Fincher reportedly moved on back in April and is now concentrating on prepping his next film, Gone Girl, which should start shooting later this fall.
Fincher’s big problem in getting the film into production has always been landing the right lead for the project. His initial choice of Brad Pitt passed in favor of doing the upcoming Fury. Matt Damon and Daniel Craig were both put off by the prospect of being separated from their families for the film’s 140-day scheduled shoot. Channing Tatum wasn’t seen by the studio as a bankable enough star while Fincher turned down the studio’s suggestion of Chris Hemsworth.
But perhaps this is for the best. Disney is still reeling from two big-budgeted, box office bombs John Carter and The Lone Ranger. And while the studio could financially withstand if 20,000 Leagues were to also disappoint at the box office, it would certainly cause a shakeup among the top brass. And so rather than take a risk, it appears that the decision was made to save their jobs.
At one point, there were three separate adaptations of Verne’s classic novel in development. Twentieth Century Fox had a script from Pacific Rim scribe Travis Beacham which transposed the novel’s action to the future yet keeps its story structure intact that Timur Bekmambetov was interested in directing. Meanwhile, New Line’s 20,000 Leagues was being developed by producer Sam Raimi with a script by Craig Titley that landed on the 2007 Black List. Titley’s take retains the original period setting of the novel and incorporates several sequences from the books that previous adaptations have not. Both of these have been rather silent for a while, but if either studio is still interested in the project than I would suspect that they’ll get them onto the fast track fairly quickly.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea joins a number of other projects that Fincher had breifly developed but abandoned including Chef, Torso, Heavy Metal and Rendezvous With Rama.