Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea has been adapted to film and television several times, beginning with a short silent film by George Melies in 1907. The most well-known, however, is Disney’s 1954 Technicolor adaptation starring Kirk Douglas and James Mason. It was a high-grossing, award-nominated film known more for its kid-friendly trained sea lion, giant squid battle and Douglas’s musical sequence than fildelity to Verne’s novel.
Disney’s been trying to get a new 20,000 Leagues film rolling for a few years now but the project has been stalled since director McG left in 2009. Deadline reports that things are again moving with the film, as David Fincher and Andrew Kevin Walker have signed on to direct and write (respectively).
Fincher (whose The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be released next month) and Walker have collaborated before on a little film called Se7en. Both are usually associated more with darker fare like Se7en and Fincher’s upcoming film than anything Disney puts out, so it makes me wonder what kind of direction Disney is taking with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. McG as director might have indicated a kind of Pirates of the Caribbean approach – action and hints at darker or more adult themes, but still pretty family friendly. I don’t know that there is even one film in the combined oeuvre of Fincher and Walker that could be called “family friendly” (even Walker’s adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was rated R). There are definitely some dark and twisted themes in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, so maybe we’ll finally get a film that features them properly.