In his first move affecting a major film project, newly named Walt Disney Studios chief Rich Ross has pulled the plug on a planned $150-million production of “Captain Nemo: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea“, the last project approved by his predecessor Dick Cook.

The family adventure movie, a high priority for Disney that the studio had envisioned as a potential franchise along the lines of “Pirates of the Caribbean“, was scheduled to begin shooting in February in Mexico. Disney had already spent about $10 million hiring crews, who were prepping the movie and planning to build elaborate sets in Rosarito Beach. Artwork and construction of models were underway.

Nemo” is one of many projects that are being reevaluated by Ross and his boss, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger, in the wake of Cook’s forced departure in mid-September.

Disney only recently spent generously to hire writer Michael Chabon to rewrite the “Nemo” script. Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” had just written a draft of the Burbank studio’s forthcoming production “John Carter of Mars,” an adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel and the first live-action film to be directed by Pixar Animation Studios director Andrew Stanton.

Although it is commonplace in Hollywood for projects to be shelved when there’s a management change, Iger earlier this year took the unusual step of publicly criticizing the studio’s movie picks and their execution in conference calls with investors. Disney’s “A Christmas Carol,” starring Jim Carrey, had a softer-than-expected opening two weeks ago but is holding well and has grossed $64 million domestically to date. Next week, the studio debuts its Robin Williams-John Travolta comedy “Old Dogs” in wide release and the animated feature “The Princess and the Frog” in New York and Los Angeles.

Source: Los Angeles Times