Master and Commander prequel in the works at 20th Century Studios
James R | On 05, Jun 2021
A prequel to Master and Commander is in the works at 20th Century Studios.
In 2003, Peter Weir brought the nautical tales of Captain Jack Aubrey and surgeon Stephen Maturin to the screen, with an adaptation of Patrick O’Brian’s series of novels. Starring Russell Crowe as Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Maturin, with a script by Weir and John Collee, the film was set during the Napoleonic Wars and saw the British Royal Navy captain launch a determined chase of a French warship. It nominated for 10 Oscars and won a BAFTA. While it was intended to be the first in a franchise, no sequels ever followed, most likely due to its lukewarm performance at the cinema box office.
Now, though, with the streaming age opening up doors for franchise building around exclusive properties, not to mention Disney’s coffers now at its disposal, 20th Century Studios is reportedly looking to sail back into those waters.
Deadline reports that the new project would be based on the initial book in the series, exploring the early days of Aubrey and Maturin’s friendship. Although it is early days and no director or cast are attached, Patrick Ness is on board to adapt the script. Ness, who recently adapted his Chaos Walking trilogy into a film of the same title, has previously brought his novel A Monster Calls to the screen, and also penned BBC Three’s Doctor Who spin-off Class.
With multiple books in O’Brian’s series, there’s certainly potential for source material, and Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Studios means that, box office or no box office, the film could live on at Hulu and Star on Disney+. Watch this space to see if the ship ever makes it out of the docks.