Walt Disney originally wanted the “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” adaptation to be an animated feature film, according to Classic Movie Hub. However, the film producer was convinced to do a live-action version instead after seeing the pre-production sketches created by artist Harper Goff, who served as the Art Director for the movie.
Goff thought hard about how to bring Jules Verne’s words to life. “In motion pictures, the text of a classic like this subject is sacrosanct like the Bible! The ‘word’ of Jules Verne is not to be made light of, so the duty of the production designer like myself is to take the sometimes arbitrary descriptions of the Nautilus as recorded by ‘J.V.’ and ‘make it work’,” he said (via Flashback). It goes without saying that Disney was impressed with Goff’s work, so he agreed that “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” should be made into a live-action movie instead.
A made-for-TV animated movie of the novel was released in 1985, which was created by Burbank Films Australia, but it never became as widely popular as the 1954 live-action version.