No list of great films that deserved sequels and never got them is complete without Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Peter Weir’s naval war drama starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was based on the book series by author Patrick O’Brian on the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey (Crowe) and Stephen Maturin (Bettany), his ship’s doctor, and as such it should have been tailor-made for many more Master and Commander films. Instead, despite decent box-office receipts and two Academy Awards, a follow-up movie never materialized.
Now, almost 20 years later, it looks like the long-awaited Master and Commander sequel is finally in development — as a prequel. According to Deadline, 20th Century Studios has brought in writer Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls, Chaos Walking) to develop the screenplay. While The Far Side of the World adapted material from numerous O’Brian novels, it was primarily drawn from the tenth book in the Aubrey-Maturin series. This new work would adapt the first book:
Sources say this film would be based on the first book in the series, which shows a young Aubrey when he is given his first command and also explores how his friendship with his naval surgeon, Stephen Maturin (played by Bettany in the original) begins. Since this would be set in the early days of Aubrey, its also likely they would have new talent playing Aubrey and Maturin as well.
That’s the easiest way to get around having to recast Crowe and Bettany who’ve now likely aged out of the roles unless they focused on one of the very last books. A new Aubrey and Maturin might sadden fans of the first Master and Commander, but it would also give the new film the chance to launch the full franchise that O’Brian fans have always wanted.
Great Movies That Became Horrible Franchises
Sometimes the best movies make the worst franchises. In the ten examples below, inventive, groundbreaking cinema became the source material for some of our least favorite film series.