While Disney is busy announcing and loudly crowing about their new version of “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” that McG is set to direct, everyone seems to have forgotten that last year’s Black List (the 2007 edition) actually featured an adaptation of “20,000 Leagues” that was set up at New Line, written by Craig Titley and originally set to be directed by David Fincher.
I haven’t read Bill Marsilli’s draft of “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo,” as the Disney film is called, but I can tell you that the emphasis was squarely on telling the story the right way, with a heavy character emphasis on Nemo and his backstory, in the Titley drafts in 2007. A rousing pulp adventure, the Titley script was rightly praised as the first version of the film to go back and really make Nemo the hero of the piece, and to make him ambiguous about his purpose in a way that made the entire thing more compelling. I like Marsilli as a writer, but this is one of those really ridiculous corporate dick-measuring contests that upset me. Titley’s script was widely read and distributed back in 2007, and at that point, Disney was not actively working on the property. Now, all of a sudden, their Nemo-centric version has a director and they’re rushing to make sure they’re in production first?
I hope we hear some details in the days ahead about how Warner/New Line plans to handle their own project, and I hope it hasn’t killed the film.
In the interest of full disclosure, Craig Titley is a longtime family friend of mine, and an executive producer on “Bat Out Of Hell,” the vampire action film that Joe Dante is set to direct this year.