20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)

Adventure | 9 October 1916

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HISTORY

One contemporary trade reviewer states that the film also uses plot material from Verne's novel The Mysterious Island (Paris, 1874). The film was shot over a two-year period and cost nearly $500,000. Contemporary sources disagree on whether the Williamson organization co-produced the film or whether they were hired by Universal to carry out the film's undersea photography. The underwater scenes were shot in the Bahamas, and the film's interiors were shot both at Universal's Eastern studio in Leonia, NJ, and at Universal City, CA. Pre-release trade articles state that the film was planned as a twelve-reeler, and the copyright holdings list it as an eleven-reeler, but nearly all reviews give its length as eight reels.
       The film's first public showing was in Chicago, IL, in Sep-Oct 1916, and some trade journals list it on release charts as early as 23 Sep 1916, but the film did not open in New York until Dec 1916, and all trade reviews appeared in Dec 1916 or in early 1917.
       One pre-release article gives "Brulatier" as the last name of the cinematographer who shot the undersea scenes. No information has been located to determine his full name. The copyright holdings give the name of the character played by Matt Moore as Gideon Spilett, but reviews call the character Lieutenant Bond.
       Jules Verne's novel was also the basis of the 1954 Walt Disney production of the same name, directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Kirk Douglas and James Mason. ...

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One contemporary trade reviewer states that the film also uses plot material from Verne's novel The Mysterious Island (Paris, 1874). The film was shot over a two-year period and cost nearly $500,000. Contemporary sources disagree on whether the Williamson organization co-produced the film or whether they were hired by Universal to carry out the film's undersea photography. The underwater scenes were shot in the Bahamas, and the film's interiors were shot both at Universal's Eastern studio in Leonia, NJ, and at Universal City, CA. Pre-release trade articles state that the film was planned as a twelve-reeler, and the copyright holdings list it as an eleven-reeler, but nearly all reviews give its length as eight reels.
       The film's first public showing was in Chicago, IL, in Sep-Oct 1916, and some trade journals list it on release charts as early as 23 Sep 1916, but the film did not open in New York until Dec 1916, and all trade reviews appeared in Dec 1916 or in early 1917.
       One pre-release article gives "Brulatier" as the last name of the cinematographer who shot the undersea scenes. No information has been located to determine his full name. The copyright holdings give the name of the character played by Matt Moore as Gideon Spilett, but reviews call the character Lieutenant Bond.
       Jules Verne's novel was also the basis of the 1954 Walt Disney production of the same name, directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Kirk Douglas and James Mason.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
12 Sep 1916
p. 19.
Chicago Tribune
5 Oct 1916
p. 12.
Chicago Tribune
9 Oct 1916
p. 20.
Chicago Tribune
3 Dec 1916
p. 53.
Exhibitors Trade Review
6 Jan 1917
p. 350.
Los Angeles Times
30 Jun 1916.
---
Motion Picture Mail
28 Oct 1916
p. 15.
Motion Picture News
5 Aug 1916
p. 761.
Motion Picture News
23 Sep 1916
p. 1904.
Motion Picture News
28 Oct 1916
p. 2745.
Motion Picture News
23 Dec 1916
p. 4022.
Motion Picture News
1 Jan 1917
p. 29.
Motion Picture News
6 Jan 1917
p. 112.
Motion Picture News
27 Jan 1917
p. 560.
Motography
21 Oct 1916
p. 942.
Motography
28 Oct 1916
p. 984.
Motography
25 Nov 1916
p. 1173.
Moving Picture Weekly
25 Nov 1916
p. 29.
Moving Picture Weekly
10 Feb 1917
p. 45.
Moving Picture World
28 Oct 1916
p. 555.
Moving Picture World
13 Jan 1917
p. 240.
New York Clipper
27 Dec 1916
p. 34.
New York Times
30 Jul 1916.
---
New York Times
19 Dec 1916
p. 9.
New York Times
24 Dec 1916.
---
New York Times
25 Dec 1916
p. 7.
NYDM
5 Aug 1916
p. 32.
NYDM
16 Dec 1916
p. 34.
NYDM
6 Jan 1917
p. 26.
NYDM
24 Feb 1917
p. 28, 32
Variety
20 Aug 1915
p. 16.
Variety
1 Sep 1916
p. 20.
Variety
13 Oct 1916
p. 22.
Variety
29 Dec 1916
p. 23.
Variety
5 Jan 1917
p. 22.
Wid's
11 Jan 1917
p. 25.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
BRAND NAME
Universal Special Production
Universal Special Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Asst cam
Asst cam
Underwater photog
Underwater photog
ART DIRECTORS
Tech dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Vingt mille lieues sous les mers by Jules Verne (France, 1870).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 October 1916
Premiere Information:
Chicago opening: 9 Oct 1916; New York opening: 24 Dec 1916 at the Broadway Theatre
Production Date:
1914-1916
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Universal Film Mfg. Co.
25 September 1916
LP9183
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

During the Civil War, a team of Americans investigates reports of a sea monster that is destroying ships. The sea monster is in reality a submarine, the Nautilus, commanded by Captain Nemo, a bitter man seeking vengeance on an English adventurer, Charles Denver. Years before in India, where Nemo was a prince, Denver caused the suicide of Nemo's wife and the disappearance of his young daughter. When the American team's air balloon crashes, Nemo rescues the men and puts them ashore on an island which is inhabited by a wild girl who, unknown to Nemo, is his long-lost daughter. The girl falls in love with Lieutenant Bond, one of the Americans, but is threatened by the villainous crew member Pencroft and by the unexpected arrival of the guilt-ridden Denver. The girl is abducted by Pencroft and Denver, but Nemo torpedoes Denver's yacht, killing the abductors and saving his daughter but incurring a mortal wound. Reunited with his daughter, Nemo dies at peace, and his daughter is reunited with her American ...

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During the Civil War, a team of Americans investigates reports of a sea monster that is destroying ships. The sea monster is in reality a submarine, the Nautilus, commanded by Captain Nemo, a bitter man seeking vengeance on an English adventurer, Charles Denver. Years before in India, where Nemo was a prince, Denver caused the suicide of Nemo's wife and the disappearance of his young daughter. When the American team's air balloon crashes, Nemo rescues the men and puts them ashore on an island which is inhabited by a wild girl who, unknown to Nemo, is his long-lost daughter. The girl falls in love with Lieutenant Bond, one of the Americans, but is threatened by the villainous crew member Pencroft and by the unexpected arrival of the guilt-ridden Denver. The girl is abducted by Pencroft and Denver, but Nemo torpedoes Denver's yacht, killing the abductors and saving his daughter but incurring a mortal wound. Reunited with his daughter, Nemo dies at peace, and his daughter is reunited with her American sweetheart.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.