Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany standing together on their ship in Master and Commander.

For almost two decades, fans of Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World have hoped that a sequel would eventually happen. Crowe himself fueled those hopes over the years, as he would encourage fans to make enough noise to see Captain Jack Aubrey return to the high seas. Well, the good captain, and his surgeon friend, will be returning; but unfortunately, it sounds like a reboot is the path that this former Fox franchise will be taking.

Per an announcement reported by Deadline, the next adaptation of author Patrick O’Brien’s legendary 21-book series is going to go back all the way to square one. Telling the origin story of Captain Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin’s careers and friendship, this new Master and Commander film is allegedly being sourced from O’Brien’s first novel in the sequence. Writing this new script is author and screenwriter Patrick Ness, who is known for adapting two of his own novels for the screen: Chaos Walking and A Monster Calls.

The dream of a Master and Commander sequel has been a fire burning as far back as 2009, which in itself was some time removed from the 2003 theatrical release of director Peter Weir’s initial foray. It was a concern that was even brought up as late as 2017, when Russell Crowe broke the news that a potential sequel was still being developed at then studio 20th Century Fox. Now, in a post-merger world, with 20th Century Studios being the name on the door, it looks like those in charge are ready to return to the high seas of British naval adventure.

It’s a heartbreaker for fans of Russell Crowe’s Aubrey and Paul Bettany’s Maturin, as the actors shared quite a bit of chemistry in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Plus, the rousing action and personal drama that mixed together to make that previous film created a franchise starter that won fans and became an Academy Award winner in the same Oscar class as Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. But alas, if you were hoping for a return of Crowe and Bettany in this particular context, that ship seems to have sailed.

On the bright side of things, there’s a new opportunity for the Aubrey/Maturin series to win new fans in a Master and Commander reboot. With a fresh pair of actors, and a firm vision on how to adapt Patrick O’Brien’s novels in the long term, the brand recognition could reignite the public’s love of these characters. And there’s always a chance that both Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany could pop in for a cameo, to tug at the heartstrings of fans who remember when they were the faces of Master and Commander.

Shifts such as this aren’t easy, so we’ll just have to wait and see how Master and Commander’s perceived reboot progresses. In the meantime, 2021’s release schedule harbors quite a few films that can quell the heart of those looking for adventure. But should you want to introduce/reintroduce yourself to the charms of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, that film is currently available to stream, along with all the other best titles this month can muster, on Prime Video.

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