Filmmaker Bryan Singer is taking a break from the mutants of the X-Men universe. Last year, while deep in production on the 80s-set X-Men: Apocalypse, Singer revealed his intention to direct an adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Now, per Deadline, Singer has closed a deal with 20th Century Fox for the X-Men studio to produce his deep sea adventure, with the ship moving full-speed ahead towards a fall production start date as Singer directs and produces alongside Jason Taylor.
A new big-screen iteration of the Jules Verne classic has been in the works for a long time now. McG circled an adaptation in 2009, and most recently David Fincher tried to get what would be his first big-budget adventure pic off the ground at Disney with folks like Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum in the mix to star, but the Mouse House didn’t think Tatum was big enough of a name to warrant the budget Fincher needed and wanted Chris Hemsworth instead, so the filmmaker scrapped the project altogether and moved on to Gone Girl.
Then, last September, Singer announced on Instagram his intention to direct a new adaptation with a screenplay by Rick Sordelet and Dan Studney (Jack the Giant Slayer). In a statement to Deadline, Singer reiterated his childhood passion for Verne’s novel and revealed that this new version “contains not only the original characters of Captain Nemo, Ned Land and Professor Aronnax, but also some new and original characters and sci-fi plot twists culminating in a timeless adventure for all ages.”
When Singer made his initial announcement in September he made clear that he’s not abandoning the X-Men universe altogether, which means he’ll likely return for the Apocalypse sequel that will no doubt further flesh out the new versions of Jean Grey, Cyclops, etc., but 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is now firmed up as Singer’s next film, and all involved aim to get filming underway this fall. In other words, don’t expect a new X-Men movie to go into production until late 2017 at the very earliest.
I’m mostly a fan of Singer’s work, but the last time he tackled a classic story with an all-ages approach we got Jack the Giant Slayer, a movie that simply doesn’t work. Here’s hoping Singer has a firmer hook and better visual approach to 20,000 Leagues up his sleeve.