In one of his first major creative moves as Walt Disney Studios' new movie chief, Rich Ross has made the costly decision to pull the plug on the planned $150-million production of "Captain Nemo: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" — the last project approved by his predecessor, Dick Cook.
The movie — which was a high-priority project for Disney and envisioned as a potential franchise along the lines of the "Pirates of The Caribbean" series — was scheduled to begin shooting in February in Mexico. Disney had already spent millions of dollars hiring crews and building elaborate sets in Rosarito Beach, which will now have to be struck and workers laid off. The studio will also be shutting down the film's production offices on the Burbank lot, where dozens of people were doing prep work for the movie. UPDATE: A person close to the production said the movie was in pre-production in Mexico, but that construction had yet to begin.
Just a few weeks ago, Disney spent generously to hire writer Michael Chabon to quickly rewrite the script. The studio had recruited Chabon, author of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," to rework "Nemo" after he had recently written a draft of its forthcoming production "John Carter of Mars," the first live-action film to be directed by Pixar Animation Studios director Andrew Stanton.
UPDATE: The "Captain Nemo" project has been under evaluation since Cook's ouster in September as studio head. Nonetheless, people working on the project were stunned Monday when Ross announced in a meeting that production was being halted.
The film's director, McG, dropped out of the project Monday, though it's unclear whether he left because of the change in plans or because he clashed creatively with Ross. McG did not return a call seeking comment.
According to one person familiar with the situation, Ross made the decision based on creative concerns and plans to redevelop the movie, a new adaptation of Jules Vernes' classic novel, which the studio first brought to the big screen in 1954.
The news was first reported in Variety.
–Claudia Eller and Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo: James Mason as Captain Nemo in Disney's 1954 version of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Credit: Wide World Photo.
Disney Studio Head, Rich Ross pulls plug on costly ‘Captain Nemo’Posted: November 17, 2009 in NEWS STORY, PRODUCTION, STUDIOS