Everything We Know About The Master & Commander Prequel Movie

Master and Commander fans have long wanted a sequel, but a surprise prequel was announced – here are the available release date and story details.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World was released to critical fanfare in 2003 and, while demand for a sequel has been high in the years since, a prequel was instead announced in June 2021. The original movie, directed by Peter Weir, was based on several of Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin novels. Master and Commander was well-received and landed 10 Academy Award nominations, taking home Oscars for cinematography and sound editing.

The original Master and Commander movie was a wartime drama set in 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars. It starred Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey of the HMS Surprise and Paul Bettany as Dr Stephen Maturin, the ship’s doctor. The action follows the HMS Surprise as her crew pursues a French war vessel, the Acheron, around South America and the Cape of Good Hope. The film featured stunning cinematography and an atmospheric reincarnation of the age of sail, inspiring the wonder of exploration, and the intimate nature of living in the restrictive quarters of a Royal Navy frigate.

With 20 novels in the Aubrey-Maturin series, there’s a healthy amount of content for a franchise that never materialized. Russell Crowe was a fan of his work on the film, defending Master and Commander on Twitter as recently as January 2021, and fans had long hoped a sequel would reunite Crowe and Bettany for more outings on the Surprise. Contrarily, a surprise announcement came on June 4, 2021 that a prequel was instead in the works, rebooting the franchise and setting up more stories for Aubrey and Maturin. The new film will still follow the two characters, but be written by screenwriter and author Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking, A Monster Calls), and will be produced by 20th Century Fox.

Master & Commander Prequel Release Date Info

The announcement of the new Master and Commander prequel movie was light on details other than the writer and production company. There was no confirmation on a release date but, given the nature of the filmmaking process and the likely involvement of elaborate sets, costumes, and special effects, it’s likely audiences will be waiting until at least 2023 for the release of the new Master and Commander movie.

Master & Commander Prequel Story Detail

The announcement of a prequel to Master and Commander contained little in the way of story or casting details, except that the new installment might be based on the first novel in the Aubrey-Maturin series. If so, it could see Captain Jack Aubrey taking on his first command in the British Royal Navy, and developing a friendship with Dr. Maturin. As this would place the story early in the sailors’ careers, it’s unlikely Crowe or Paul Bettany could reprise their roles. There’s plenty that the movie and potential sequels could adapt and follow in the Patrick O’Brien series.

Why A Master & Commander Sequel Isn’t Happening

While audiences and critics loved Master and Commander, its box office receipts were disappointing – it made $211.6 million gross on a $150 million budget. Russell Crowe tweeted hints about a sequel as recently as 2017, but if there was a project behind his suggestion, it has since been shelved. Though fans may have loved the original film and waited a long time since 2003 for any word on a Master and Commander sequel, when choosing between no Jack Aubrey movie and a prequel, the latter might just be “the lesser of two weevils.”