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BRINGING CAPTAIN NEMO BACK

Earlier this year, The Hollywood Reporter said that Columbia Pictures had bought Alfred Gough and Miles Millar's script Captain Nemo, based on the fictional character of the same name. To the excitement of fans everywhere, the premise of the film was supposed to offer "a new take on the iconic antihero" first introduced to readers in Jules Verne's 1870s classic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."

Producers Joe Roth and Palak Patel were reportedly eager to take on the project together. The two already collaborated on this year's Maleficent in addition to working on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland follow-up project Through the Looking Glass, which is in the preproduction phase. But according to Cinema Blend, others working on the film weren't as enthused.

Unfortunately, the project has had trouble getting off the ground in the last few months because of constant road blocks from Disney. They were responsible for the 1954 classic and apparently made it so difficult to move forward with the ambitious project that they caused David Fincher, who was originally signed on to direct the film, to jump ship.

The obstacles Disney has created recently could explain why the storyline isn't one that many have attempted to take on over the years. In fact, aside from a few stage plays, only a handful of projects have featured Captain Nemo within the last 15-20 years and they include everything from made-for-TV films and online games.

In 1997, there was the television remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from director Ron Hardy. Although it featured big names such as Patrick Dempsey as Pierre Arronax and Michael Caine as Capt. Nemo, the film was poorly received and only holds a rating of 41/100 from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

Six years later, there was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen from director Stephen Norrington. As Urban Cinefile explained in the film's review, the movie didn't follow the storyline of the classic novel, but it did follow Captain Nemo, played by Naseeruddin Shah, on another adventure with other prominent fictional literary characters. It was intended to be the starting point for a new franchise, but there was little support for a sequel. Instead, they continued the story with a line of comic books written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill.

Finally, the latest project worthy of mentioning is actually not a film or comic book but a video game. Currently hosted on InterCasino, it's one of the only recent games featuring the captain and his crew. Players attempt to line up images from the story that include the captain, the Nautilus (Nemo's ship), treasure, and under sea creatures. Matching the right images give users the ability to earn extra spins and prizes, and you can play it for free if you'd rather not put money on the line.

What all of the previously stated projects have in common (besides featuring Nemo of course) is that Disney didn't have anything at stake when they were created. They had no claim for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the other two projects were likely too small for them to feel the need to get involved. But as the new film's budget is likely larger than all of the projects featuring the Captain and his crew in the last 20 years combined, it's no wonder it has attracted the entertainment conglomerate.

Hopefully, the two companies can find some common ground soon, at least for the sake of the fans. Captain Nemo's story is certainly one that deserves a new round on the big screen.

POST Published December 4, 2014

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