This’ll take the wind out of your sails. Deadline exclusively reports that 20th Century Studios (formerly 20th – and then 21st – Century Fox, till Disney bought it) is developing a new movie based on a series of novels by Patrick O’Brian. The books center on British Navy captain Jack Aubrey and his best friend Steven Maturin, the surgeon on board Aubrey’s ship, as they traverse the Napoleonic Wars and beyond. The first adaptation was 2003’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which was named after the first and tenth books, but drew story elements from many of them. Master and Commander was directed by Peter Weir and starred Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany as Aubrey and Maturin. According to Deadline’s source, this new film will be a prequel, drawing heavily from the first book (which means they’ll have an excuse to call it Master and Commander), so the lead roles will likely be played by younger actors. Patrick Ness, who wrote the adaptations of his novels A Monster Calls and Chaos Walking, will write the screenplay; no one else is attached yet.
What a waste. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a fantastic movie that portrays what life was like aboard a naval vessel during the 1800s (as far as we know, I guess, but it’s convincing), the routines, the camaraderie, the fears, even the ridiculous superstitions of the crew. It had some exciting wartime action too, but the glue was the friendship between Aubrey and Maturin, how it was tested under threat of death from a French warship, and how it was what kept both men – and, through them, the crew they led – sane. The plan had been to make a series of Aubrey-Maturin movies, but Master and Commander underperformed in theaters (turns out mass audiences decided to see Elf over the Christmas Season instead of a harrowing naval thriller that took place about 200 years ago). Regardless, Russell Crowe was rightly proud of the film and had been trying to convince the studio to make another one ever since. Now, they’re finally doing it – and it’s going to be a prequel without Russell Crowe or Paul Bettany. Not only is it disappointing that we won’t get to see Crowe in one of his great roles again, but it feels like a slap in the face to the guy who’s kept this idea alive more than anyone attached to the original. He’s older now, but catching up with Aubrey in the twilight of his Navy career for one last adventure would have been fun. Another one bites the dust, I guess.
Are you looking forward to another Master and Commander movie? Did you like the first film? Will Disney/20th Century cut costs by CGI-ing all the water? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned to Geeks + Gamers for more movie news!