Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns Talks David Fincher’s 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

     January 31, 2013

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Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns has been working on quite a few interesting projects over the past couple of years.  Director David Fincher enlisted the scribe to work on his big-budget remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Burns was also tapped to pen a draft of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  Steve recently sat down with the screenwriter to talk about his upcoming thriller Side Effects, and during the course of the conversation Burns talked about the status of both 20,000 Leagues and Apes, discussing why Rupert Wyatt dropped out of the director’s chair for the Apes sequel.  Hit the jump to read on.

scott-z-burns-20000-leagues-under-the-seaDavid Fincher has been developing a redo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for a number of years, and Burns was one of the first writers onboard Fincher’s iteration of the project.  The filmmaker later drafted Andrew Kevin Walker to perform a rewrite, and last we heard Fincher was trying to settle on a budget with Disney for the film.  Steve asked Burns about the status of the project:

“I don’t know [the status of 20,000 Leagues], I saw Sean Bailey at Sundance and I know that I had a great time working with David. Again, it’s a script that I really loved, I loved that book and I think that David and I had a really great take. I know I ran out of steps at some point and David asked Andrew Kevin walker to do a pass, I’ve not read his draft, but shit the guy wrote Se7en he’s an amazing writer.  Sean said that they’re really happy with that script.  I think David is figuring out at what budget he can do the movie.  Just as a movie fan, even if I wasn’t involved, I would love to go see David Fincher do that movie, it would be amazing.”

When asked about the nature of his version of 20,000 Leagues when compared to the original, Burns noted that it’s “a pretty big reinvention; it’s a whole different look at Nemo.”

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apesBurns was also involved with writing the script for the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and with Matt Reeves now onboard to direct the film and production moving forward, Steve asked Burns if they would be using his version of the script. The scribed admitted he was unsure, but he did talk a bit about why Rupert Wyatt left the project:

“I have no idea [if they’re using my script], Rupert Wyatt and I worked on a draft last summer that I think we were both really excited about and he went into Fox and they seemed to like it, they wanted a lot of changes and they sort of parted ways over those changes. Then management shifted at fox, they brought in a new director, I think the new director wanted a new writer and I don’t know how much of what we did and I wrote is ongoing.  It’s kind of heartbreaking because I really loved what we were trying to say with that movie so I hope some of it survives or that they came up with something a lot better.”

rise-of-the-apes-movie-image-james-franco-jobloThe scribe noted that while he loved the apes portions of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, his goal was to make the human characters more interesting:

“I felt the way about it that I think a lot of the people involved did, which was that I loved the apes, but I felt that the human characters needed to be more interesting and that was sort of my task when we started talking about the second one.  I was loving it, it was a really fun world to play in.  It’s really heartbreaking when these things sort of leave you and you’re not even sure why.”

Screenwriter Mark Bomback was brought onboard to do a rewrite of the script last October, so it’s unknown how much of Brooks’ script will make it to the screen.  We’ll find out when Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on May 23, 2014.

If you missed what Burns told us about his involvement in the new Blade Runner movie or what happened to Steven Soderbergh’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., click the links.

Look for Steve’s full interview with Burns on Collider soon.

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