Disney+ orders a ten-episode series adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, which will tell the origin story of Captain Nemo.
Disney+ has commissioned a 10-part live-action series, entitled Nautilus, based on Jules Verne’s classic novel, “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.“ The novel is set in 1866 where the U.S. Government assembles a team to find and destroy a “sea monster” that’s been terrorizing the waters, only to find that it’s actually a high-tech submarine captained by the mysterious Captain Nemo. Nemo is an East Indian scientist, exiled to sea in his vessel and dedicated to scientific research, as well as revenge against those who caused his fate.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea has been adapted a number of times, beginning with the 1916 silent film, and in the 1954 live-action version starring Kirk Douglas, also produced by Disney. Captain Nemo has appeared in various films and incarnations, including Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel and film adaptation and the 1973 mini-series, The Mysterious Island, with Omar Shariff playing the fabled character. In addition, Captain Nemo was the subject of a Soviet-made mini-series and has been referenced, portrayed, and written about in numerous books, comics, songs, and more, making this an IP that reaches far back into early pop culture, let alone the submarine genre.
According to Variety, Verne’s classic tale is about to kick off yet again, this time as an origin story of the famed Captain Nemo, called Nautilus, rather than a straight adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Nautilus is the name of Captain Nemo’s high-tech submarine and an iconic symbol of Verne’s work. Liam Keenan, VP, original productions, EMEA at The Walt Disney Company, says that the show will be “epic” and large scale. Read what he had to say at the Edinburgh TV Festival, where the news was unveiled, below:
“It will feel really big scale, really epic. I’ve seen the first script and the 10 outlines, and it reads like 10 feature films, really. So it’s going to be a really big deal for us.”
Back in 2016, director James Mangold was hired by Disney to remake 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, but under the same concept as this new iteration, which is to be from the point of view of Captain Nemo and serve as an origin story. David Fincher was also attached at one point, as well as Bryan Singer, who was developing his own competing take on the property for 20th Century Fox before the project fell through. None of those projects ever came to fruition, leaving this IP ironically out to sea for a long time. With this new development, it appears that the project will finally see the light of day and be presented on the epic scale it deserves.
With so many starts and stops on this classic property, it seems fitting that Nautilus would sail into a mini-series, rather than a film, which will allow for a more robust production that can dive into the individual characters and story rather than sacrifice them to a bunch of crammed-in special effects. Certainly there’s been a lot of VFX advances even since Captain Nemo’s last appearance in 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so the expectation is certainly that these could be done bigger, better, and cheaper than ever before. The only question that remains is whether or not audiences are still invested or even aware of what makes the Jules Verne novel something special. With production starting in 2022, the answer is still a little ways off, but the journey has begun.
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