What Happened To David Fincher’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Movie?

By Rudie Obias | Published

20000 leagues under the sea david fincher

Back in the 2012-2013 range, it really looked like we were going to pair a great director with a great story for what could have been movie gold. Director David Fincher was looking to get his next project, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, off the ocean floor.

For all intents and purposes, it was looking like a go from both the studio and David Fincher, even considering casting (Brad Pitt was rumored to be in the crosshairs there). But as often happens in Hollywood, all these years later, there is no 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea movie with David Fincher in the director’s chair.

Casting Conflicts

There were a number of different issues that came into play here. For starters, the aforementioned casting became something of a sticking point.

We mentioned that Brad Pitt was approached. But dudes like Chris Hemsworth and even Matt Damon were in the mix as well. They were going after some of the biggest names around, and that made total sense.

But scheduling conflicts meant that some of the bigger names weren’t able to commit to the movie.

Script Issues?

david fincher 20000 leagues under the sea

Then, in 2012, according to Variety, the production was being held for three months while Disney evaluated the project’s, ahem, sea legs.

David Fincher had previously tapped another former collaborator, screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en), to re-write the script, back in November 2011. So there were already some structural issues with the flick.

Bad Time For Disney

It was also kind of a bad time for Disney. The studio was coming off of some major (and we mean MAJOR) flops like John Carter and The Lone Ranger, adaptations of popular source material that were really supposed to crush at the box office.

Those two movies combined for about $600 million in budget and clawed back roughly $550 million in the theaters. Total disasters. The Mouse House was hesitant to sink $200 million into another adaptation, even if it was David Fincher behind the lens.

David Fincher Wanted To Tell A Different Kind Of Story

david fincher

And then there were David Fincher’s larger ideas about the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea story he wanted to tell.

Namely, dude was thinking about overhauling the story considerably. He wanted to have it deal with white imperialism among other things, and that had Disney a bit hesitant to go with an off-board approach to the material.

They might have been right on that front, at least from a dollars and cents perspective.

Frustrated With The Process

david fincher

David Fincher was growing notably frustrated with the process. In an interview with Little White Lies, he said, “You get over $200 million — all motion picture companies have corporate culture and corporate anxieties. Once we got past the list of people we could cast as the different characters in the film, once we got past one or two names which made them very comfortable, making a movie at that price, it became this bizarre endeavour to find which three names you could rub together to make platinum.”

Here he’s summing up much of what was deemed problems with the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea movie from his perspective. All of the money, but maybe none of the control. You can understand why this didn’t really hit the water running.

David Fincher Went On To Other Things

Ben Affleck Gone Girl

In the end, David Fincher didn’t make 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea but in 2014 we did get Gone Girl. It would be six years between movies for him, and then Mank hit.

Finally, in 2023, Fincher was back again with The Killer on Netflix. Will 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ever happen? Possibly, but it doesn’t look like David Fincher will be taking the plunge when it does.