Director David Fincher May Find Nemo in 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA With Scott Z. Burns Adapting the Story

     May 15, 2010

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Disney sunk the McG (Terminator: Salvation) adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea back in November, though not out of lack of interest in the property: Heat Vision reports that David Fincher is now in talks with the Mouse House to direct the at-sea adventure.  Fincher, known for darker R-rated fare like Fight Club and Se7en, approached Disney with the intent to make a “four-quadrant tentpole”;  20,000 Leagues certainly fits the bill, and could be a major box office player in the right hands (apparently not McG’s).  Among the hands Disney is recruiting are those of Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum), who is currently drafting an adaptation of the Jules Verne story.

Fincher followed up his Oscar nomination for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with the Facebook tale The Social Network—now in post-production—which will likely be succeeded by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as Burns finishes the 20,000 Leagues script.  More after the jump:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea image (1)A Fincher-directed 20,000 Leagues is one of those awesome combinations that I never would have thought of, assuming it works out.  That may be a big assumption, though.  One of the reasons that Disney put the kibosh on the $150 million McG-led Leagues was a rumored concern for the dark tone he brough to the project.  If that’s true, I don’t imagine Fincher will lighten things up any.  But Fincher has become more of a chameleon lately, as neither Benjamin Button nor The Social Network (sight unseen, admittedly) are films I would have attributed to a pre-Zodiac Fincher.  I don’t know if the director’s notoriously singular vision will jive with Disney’s specialization in “wide-appeal, pre-branded entertainment”, but I’d love to watch them try.

The novel is public domain, but the specifics of the Fincher/Burns take are being kept under wraps, though Heat Vision claims the material is “in the vein of Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back.  It will aim to be visually dazzling.”  Awesome.

As a refresher, here’s the plot synopsis for the 1869 Jules Verne novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea:

Professor Pierre Aronnax, the narrator of the story, boards an American frigate commissioned to investigate a rash of attacks on international shipping by what is thought to be an amphibious monster. The supposed sea creature, which is actually the submarine Nautilus, sinks Aronnax’s vessel and imprisons him along with his devoted servant Conseil and Ned Land, a temperamental harpooner. The survivors meet Captain Nemo, an enigmatic misanthrope who leads them on a worldwide, yearlong underwater adventure. The novel is noted for its exotic situations, the technological innovations it describes, and the tense interplay of the three captives and Nemo (who reappears in The Mysterious Island).

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