Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Although James Cameron was at Paramount today to show off his 3D conversion of Titanic, I had to ask him and his producer partner Jon Landau about the progress of their planned remake of the campy but fun 1966 sci-fi hit Fantastic Voyage. Despite some terrible acting (from the likes of Raquel Welch and Stephen Boyd) and wooden dialogue, it did manage to win five nominations and a couple of Oscars for Art Direction and Special Visual Effects.

The original story, about a group of scientists who are reduced to microscopic size inside a submarine and injected into the body of an ill colleague, is taking on a new dimension in the version now in active development at 20th Century Fox. As first reported by Deadline, Cameron, busy with two sequels to Avatar among other projects, does not plan to direct — Shawn Levy (Real Steel) is attached as the helmer. “I gave him my idea about how this should be turned into a love story and he’s really run with it,” says Cameron, who noted that the script (originally written by Shane Salerno) with its complex premise has to be just right before it can get to the production level. Cameron says it’s about two thirds of the way there in the development process. Much like Titanic the new Voyage has a real emotional core to it, basically dealing with a doctor going through troubled times in his marriage who finds himself injected into his gravely ill wife in order to save her life. Apparently, once he gets to the brain, things really heat up. Compared to the original, the possibilities of this re-imagination are quite intriguing. Of course, with the massive advances in filmmaking technology in the 45 years since Richard Fleischer’s version, Fantastic Voyage is truly ripe for a reboot.

A few weeks ago, Levy told me he’s working hard on it and did seem genuinely excited to get this in front of the cameras, but it isn’t necessarily his next project. Still, coming on the heels of the successful Real Steel, it represents a promising new career direction for the producer-director, who previously specialized in comedies like Night At The Museum, Date Night and Cheaper By The Dozen but is now collaborating with industry titans like Cameron and Steven Spielberg.

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