After announcing in 2021 that it would be developing a prequel series to the 1954 film adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Disney+ has axed the project, citing cost-cutting measures. The series was slated to star Shazad Latif as Captain Nemo, an Indian prince who escapes the custody of the East India Company and plots his revenge on his captors.
While in the same world as Jules Verne‘s original story, Nautilus is a completely original story, written by James Dormer and directed by Michael Matthews. It spans 10 episodes, which were meant to premiere exclusively on Disney’s streaming service.
Along with Latif, it stars Ling Cooper Tang, Georgia Flood, Tyrone Ngatai, Andrew Shaw, Thierry Frémont, Céline Menville, Arlo Green, Pacharo Mzembe, Kayden Price and Ashan Kumar. The series was filmed in Australia in early 2022.
While 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is set in 1866, when Captain Nemo is already the head of Nautilus, a high-tech submarine, the prequel series was intended to offer fans a look at how he began his life exploring the depths of the ocean.
At the time Nautilus was announced, Johanna Devereaux, director of scripted original content for Disney+, said it was “a huge privilege to bring the Nautilus and her crew to life again in such a bold, exciting way, with a diverse team of creative talent and on-screen characters. The series will be breathtaking, action-packed and a huge amount of fun.”
In February 2023, Disney announced it would be cutting $3 billion USD in non-sporting content spending across the company. Recently, CEO Bob Iger discussed pullbacks on new content for Disney+ – in particular, series related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Star Wars and original films.
Along with Nautilus, the series adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles was also axed from the streaming platform. It, like the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea prequel, was already completed, with Disney+ working with both production teams to help them find new homes for the series.