Hayley Atwell has been piped on board The Return Of Captain Nemo, a $10 million 3D sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea that hopes to start shooting January 16. David Morrissey, star of Brit TV’s Red Riding, is also attached to this Captain Nemo adventure, to be directed by Pearry Teo. Atwell — who has just tested for Universal’s Joseph Kosinski-directed Tom Cruise science fiction film Oblivion – will play the heroine Sara, while Morrissey plays her uncle, the chief adviser to President Ulysses S Grant, who frees Nemo from prison to try and discover why mysterious “sea monsters” are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Hugh Bonneville, star of PBS/ITV period drama Downton Abbey, has already been announced as Nemo. Producer Amy Krell says she is closing the finance from U.S., Asian and UK investors, and will shoot in Romania. Like 300, The Return Of Captain Nemo will be shot entirely onstage using green screen and CGI. “We would have to double our production costs if we shot this in the States,” Krell says. Shoreline Entertainment is selling internationally. This steampunk version features some rather cool designs, such as a 19th century Air Force One and of course, the Nautilus.

If it does set sail, Krell’s version of the Captain Nemo story will steam ahead of Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, a longtime studio project that is now alive again. At $10 million, this indie version cannot hope to compete with a David Fincher project that, at one time, was going to cost $150 million before being dry-docked.

Bonneville is coming off a high from Downton Abbey: a record 10.5 million UK viewers tuned in to see the series finale on Sunday night, making it the highest-rated episode of a TV drama for the past 10 years.

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