Though I knew Disney were planning a remake of their 1954 adventure classic 20 000 Leagues Under The Sea, I had no idea that David Fincher, who seems like a strange choice given his penchant for dark, adult subject matter, was intending to direct it. It just shows that, however abreast you try to keep of all the movie news, some stuff is always missed. Fincher talked with Little White Lies and revealed some interest information about the project. In response to being asked if he’d ever had a mega, multi-million dollar blockbuster offered to him, he first said: “I don’t think anyone would come to me with a money-is-no-object proposition,” but then recalled how he had been ready to go out to Australia to film 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, but then studio interference, especially regarding the film’s cast, soon deterred his involvement.
Fincher didn’t go as far as to name any of the thespians that Disney rejected, though we do know he wanted Brad Pitt to star. He revealed that Disney balked at his request to make the main character, Professor Pierre Aronnax, French – which is exactly what his nationality is in Jules Verne’s novel [this is hardly surprising considering Kirk Douglas’s lusty sailor was totally different from the book’s main character in 1954]. This was followed by numerous other “confusing” disagreements that then led to him jumping ship. Fincher confessed:
It became very hard to appease the anxieties of Disney’s corporate culture with the list of names that allowed everyone to sleep at night. I just wanted to make sure I had the skill-sets I could turn the movie over to. Not worrying about whether they’re big in Japan.”
It’s not clear exactly when all this happened, but the new version of 20 000 Leagues Under The Sea is still to get a director, stars or indeed a script. Disney seem to be lazily obsessed with the idea of remaking their older films at the moment, but considering how weak Maleficent was, I think they should leave 20 000 Leagues Under The Sea alone. It’s a classic, and the only justifiable reason for remaking it would be to make it closer to the book, which Disney don’t seem interested in doing.