David Fincher has been attached to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for almost three years now, but Disney’s been waffling on whether or not it actually wants to move forward with the project. Last we heard in October, the studio had decided only to give itself more time to decide.

But now Fincher’s not the only one eager to get things going. The Australian government is offering Disney an eight-figure rebate to shoot Down Under. If all goes well, the project could enter pre-production this year. However, it may do so without previously rumored star Brad Pitt. Contrary to some reports, he is not set to star, or at least not yet. Hit the jump to keep reading.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Braveheart scribe Randall Wallace has been hired to rewrite Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, which is being developed for McG. Not a good sign for the project, which has already had a couple notable writers. Geek screenwriter Justin Marks (Masters of the Universe, Super Max) was hired in February to rewrite Bill Marsilli‘s (Deja Vu) original draft. Wallace is squeezing the Nemo “writing gig” in before he goes off to direct the racehorse drama Secretariat in September. Wallace, who was nominated for an Oscar for writing Braveheart, has since been credited with Pearl Harbor, We Were Soldiers, and The Rookie.

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the rock nemo

Update: McG has denied reports of Johnson’s casting to SciFi: “I’ve never spoken to Dwayne Johnson about this. I like him. He’s great. He’s a wonderful human being and an excellent screen presence, but we have not spoken about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Not a word.”

After it was first announced that McG would be developing 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo for Disney, the filmmaker went on to tell everyone that he wanted to cast Will Smith as the film’s title character. Production Weekly reported over the weekend a rumor that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been cast in the project instead of Smith. Johnson has a great relationship with the mouse house, and possibly even a multi-picture deal, so if the rumor were true, it completely makes sense.
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Justin Marks to Rewrite McG’s Captain Nemo

Justin Marks has been hired by Disney to rewrite 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, which McG is attached to direct. Marks is well known in Hollywood as a screenwriter who gets the geek niche, and has turned in drafts for Masters of the Universe, Super Max (The Green Arrow jailbreak movie), Voltron, Hack/Slash and Street Fighter. Disney hopes to make the film this year, and McG is slotting it as his next project, before he moves on to a fifth Terminator film. McG supposedly wants Will Smith to play Captain Nemo.

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The other day, we reported on McG’s new directing gig helming 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo. On the /Filmcast the other night, we expressed hope that Hollywood would man up and cast an ethnically correct (i.e. Indian) version of Captain Nemo, undoubtedly one of the most psychologically fascinating characters in literature. As usual, it seems our hopes were misplaced, for the most part.

Over at Latino Review, our colleague Kellvin is reporting that at the recent Terminator Salvation event, McG revealed who he really wants in the role of Nemo:

Man I’m trying to get Will Smith to do it, been trying to get a hold of him. I’ve been wanting to work with him for a long time already. That guy’s great.

While this might be better than M. Night Shymalan’s atrocious and much-maligned decision to cast four white leads for Avatar: The Last Airbender, it is nonetheless disheartening to see that a role originating from a South Asian character might go to someone who just happens to have the same shade of skin color. Putting aside arguments about ethnicity, the last time Smith played someone who was as tortured as Nemo was probably Seven Pounds, and we all know how that turned out (other instances might include The Pursuit of Happyness or Ali, but let’s not mention I, Robot or Hancock please). At the same event, McG explained that “The character Nemo in this film is more about obsession, he is obsessed and people tend to forget that when you become so obsessed you end up being the villain.” Would this really be the best type of role for Smith anyway?

Still, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo seems likely to be a mass-market Disney film, so who knows how complex a character Captain Nemo will be?

What will McG be directing after Terminator Salvation? Terminator 5? Nope. Disney has signed McG to direct 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo for $8 million against 7% of the gross according to Variety. I’m likely to be screamed at by the anti-McG club, but I’m convinced that McG has the talent to make a visually stunning film, which is exactly what Nemo needs to be. What McG has lacked most of his career has been a good script. However, I’d almost rather him stick to a darker sci-fi path, especially after what I’ve seen so far from Terminator Salvation. This also seems like the perfect type of movie for Disney to release in Disney Digital 3-D.

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