Though some have tried, pretty much no effort has been able to match the acclaim of Disney's 1954 adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — but someone almost gave it a pretty good shot in the mid-1980s.
Around 1984, producer Dino De Laurentiis (Dune, Hannibal) was on the verge of mounting an adaptation of Verne’s classic sci-fi novel and commissioned artist Ron Miller to put together some concept art. George MacDonald Fraser (The Three Musketeers, Red Sonja) was attached at the time to pen the script.
Though the film never made it much further past that development cycle, the sketches have finally leaked out thanks to an op-ed at io9. According to Miller, De Laurentiis had some pretty ambitious ideas for the film, which shine through in some of the drawings. Here’s an excerpt from MIller’s description:
“Fraser followed Verne's description of the squid attack on the Nautilus almost verbatim, with not just the lone animal as depicted in the Disney film but with more than twenty of the monsters. One of Fraser's ideas that I thought most brilliant was that of combining Nemo's visit to the sunken treasure ship with the visit to Atlantis. Fraser's imagery of the ancient sunken city littered with the shipwrecks of centuries was a compelling one. And just to up the ante, Nemo's mortal enemy has tracked him to this point and begins depth-charging the ruins!”
We’ve pulled together a few samples of the long-lost concept art below, and you can check out the full gallery at io9.