And one's set in the future!
Just one day after Disney announced that it was mounting a new version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) slated to direct, Fox revealed that it has its own adaptation of the classic Jules Verne novel in the works!
According to The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision blog, Fox has partnered with Scott Free Productions—the company owned by director brothers Ridley and Tony Scott—to launch the project. Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov is in talks to get behind the camera, while a script has been underway for a while from Travis Beacham, who co-wrote the recent Clash of the Titans remake.
Apparently Fox's movie has been in the works since shortly after the end of the 2007-'08 writers' strike, when Beacham approached the Scotts with his pitch. Insiders have told Heat Vision that this version of the story is set in the future, although it follows the basic structure of Verne's undersea adventure.
There's been no word on whether Disney's version of the novel will remain a period piece (the book was set in the late 1800s) or be updated itself to a modern or futuristic setting. A new version of the story was first floated at Disney last year, with McG attached to direct, but that was put on the back burner until Fincher expressed his interest. Neither he nor screenwriter Scott Z. Burns has signed a deal, though, which means that Fox already has a script for its movie and Burns has yet to start writing. Fincher will probably also shoot another film (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) before starting 20,000 Leagues, which could also give Fox a leg up with its movie.
So how can this happen? Well, Verne's novel is in the public domain, which means that nobody owns the rights and pretty much anybody can make a movie out of it. There's been plenty of versions already, although Disney's 1954 adaptation with James Mason and Kirk Douglas is considered the definitive one to date.
Remember when two movies about volcanoes—Volcano and Dante's Peak—came out in 1997? Or how about 1998, the year of the meteor movie, with Armageddon and Deep Impact? These situations never seem to work out very well for one or both of the projects, so we'll have to wait and see which studio gets its 20,000 Leagues to the screen first—or whether one blinks and lets its go.