With Disney thankfully sinking plans for McG's proposed Captain Nemo movie -- which would have began production this month -- it looks like it's clear sailing for the Sam Raimi-produced adaptation of Jules Verne's classic science fiction tale, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Though it's not certain that Raimi's Stars Road Entertainment will indeed move forward with their version of Captain Nemo's undersea adventures, screenwriter Craig Titley, who penned a draft for Raimi, had plenty of info to share with ScifiWire on what is entailed in his screenplay.
Last week, while promoting his latest book adaptation, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Titley revealed what the overall tone of the film would be:
It's very much in the tone of the Pirates [of the Caribbean] movies, sort of period, good old swashbuckling, some humor, action, excitement.
Disney's 1954 movie version is perhaps most remembered for its then-groundbreaking sequence of a giant squid attacking Captain Nemo's ship, the Nautilus. Since that deviation from the book is unique to, and the property of Disney, Titley found a way to be more true to the book while still putting his own spin on it (like the title of the article says, possible SPOILERS from here on out):
What was fun and interesting is the giant squid that we all remember from the '54 Disney film, in the book it was just sort of like a school of regular-sized giant squids as we know them. We couldn't use a giant monstrous giant squid in ours because Disney owned that. That was something unique that they created for their film. So I had to try to find something that was as exciting as that. What we came up with is this underwater sequence inside an ancient temple that has been flooded. Inside this temple, these guys are walking around underwater and see things zipping by. You find out it's a nest of 100 giant squids, as we know the giant squids, not the monstrous size, so it becomes a sequence sort of like Aliens.
Titley's aspirations to be more faithful to Verne's novel also includes a sequence from the book that he hopes to bring to the dramatize for the first time:
There's a great sequence in the book where they go under the South Pole or through the ice of Antarctica. That has never been in any adaptation, because I think technology just wouldn't allow it. I was very excited to get that sequence into an adaptation, finally, after all these adaptations, to finally put one of the big set pieces of the book in there."
Titley did however add a very important element to the Nemo character in adapting Verne's novel that will drive the whole film:
The Verne novel was very, very episodic. There was no real narrative. In the book, it's kind of Captain Nemo is done with society and so he just sort of roams around in his sub. Our hero, Ned Land, and his crew end up on the submarine, so it becomes just like a travelogue, like, 'Well, you're my prisoners, and I live under the sea, so you'll never see civilization again.' Then they're like, 'Wow, we've got to escape,' and that's it.
What we had to create was sort of a mechanism, Nemo sort of being up to something, up to something big. He's not just 'I'm done with society, so I'm just going to live under the sea and travel around.' He actually has something that he is trying to do, the nefarious plot, if you will. I tried to make him a little more complicated character, so that actually when you hear what his plot is, you're like, 'You know, I sort of understand that.' That sort of opens up the story. Then it's why he's going to these places that he's going to.
Now those may be spoilers now, but if Stars Road continues moving forward with 20,000 Leagues, Titley expects to work on subsequent drafts to accommodate a more studio friendly budget:
I'm sure there will be some budgetary drafts, because this draft is quite enormous and expensive. I think eventually there'll be some drafts to bring the budget down a bit.
I'm sure if and when Raimi brings on a director, more things could change drastically as well. But I like the ideas Titley has implemented in his version of 20,000 Leagues. But with the more period feel that Titley has in mind, I doubt that it'll be anything like the dark sci-fi-type Captain Nemo Concepts by Robert Simons (pictured above). Though Titley's Alien reference could yield some very creepy designs, though it's supposed to be more realistic.
What do you think of Titley's ideas for his 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea adaptation?