Fincher Talks The “20,000 Leagues” Collapse

With Disney shifting potential budgetary outlays from its “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” film over to its fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, it confirms something that has long been known – that the David Fincher-directed Jules Verne adaptation is officially dead.

Out doing press for “Gone Girl,” Fincher has now spoken about how things on that project went awry. The filmmaker was attached to helm back in 2010, and within three years the project was over and he had moved on to “Gone Girl” instead. He tells Little White Lies (via Slashfilm) that a lot of it came down to not just casting but the corporate culture at Disney:

“You get over $200 million – all motion picture companies have corporate culture and corporate anxieties. Once we got past the list of people we could cast as the different characters in the film, once we got past one or two names which made them very comfortable, making a movie at that price, it became this bizarre endeavour to find which three names you could rub together to make platinum.

I wanted Aronnax to be French, God forbid! It got to be a little too confusing to me. I had this argument with a studio executive one time where he said to me, ‘why is it that the actors always side with you and we’re paying them?’ And I said, ‘I think it’s because at some level, they know that my only real allegiance is to the movie.’

And because that’s very clear and it never wavers, they may not agree with the image of the movie I have in my head, but they know that’s what I’m after. They’ve seen me for 100 days take the long way around. I think that when you’re trying to put together a handful of people to deliver all those facets of humanity and who work well together, it has to be in service of the narrative and not in service of the balance sheet.

It became very hard to appease the anxieties of Disney’s corporate culture with the list of names that allowed everyone to sleep at night. I just wanted to make sure I had the skill-sets I could turn the movie over to. Not worrying about whether they’re big in Japan.”

The likes of Channing Tatum, Brad Pitt and Chris Hemsworth were all linked to the project at one time or another.