Deep Blue Sea (1999 film)

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Deep Blue Sea
Deep Blue Sea (1999 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Renny Harlin
Produced by Akiva Goldsman
Robert Kosberg
Tony Ludwig
Alan Riche
Rebecca Spikings[1]
Written by Duncan Kennedy
Donna Powers
Wayne Powers
Music by Trevor Rabin
Cinematography Stephen F. Windon
Edited by Derek Brechin
Dallas Puett
Frank J. Urioste
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Roadshow EntertainmentUniversal PicturesWorking Title(Australia & New Zealand)[2]
Release date
  • July 28, 1999 (1999-07-28)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[3]
Box office $164.6 million[3]

Deep Blue Sea is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction horror film starring Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michael Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson. The film was directed by Renny Harlin and was originally released in the United States on July 28, 1999.


At Aquatica, a remote former submarine refueling facility converted into a laboratory, a team of scientists searches for a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Fluids from the brain tissue of three Mako sharks are harvested. Unknown to the other scientists, Drs. Susan McAlester and Jim Whitlock have violated the code of ethics and have genetically engineered the sharks to increase their brain size; this has the side effect of making the sharks smarter and more dangerous.

After one of the sharks escapes and attacks a boat full of teenagers, Aquatica's financial backers send corporate executive Russell Franklin to investigate the facility. To prove that the research is working, the team removes fluid from the brain tissue of the largest shark. While examining it, Jim is attacked by the shark and his arm is bitten off. Brenda Kerns, the tower's operator, calls a helicopter to evacuate Jim, but as he is being lifted the cable jams and Jim falls into the shark pen. The shark grabs the gurney and pulls the chopper into the tower, killing Brenda and the pilots. As the others try to figure out what made the explosion, one of the sharks uses Jim's body as a battering ram to smash an underwater window, flooding the facility and freeing the other sharks. Susan confesses to the others that she and Jim genetically altered the sharks.

Susan, Russell, wrangler Carter Blake, marine biologist Janice Higgins, and engineer Tom Scoggins make their way to the top of the center. While delivering a dramatic speech emphasizing the need for group unity, Russell is dragged into the water by the largest shark and killed. While climbing up the industrial elevator, a ladder falls and gets wedged between the walls of the shaft, leaving them dangling over the water and the second shark. Janice loses her grip and falls; despite Carter's attempts to save her, the shark kills her. The cook, Sherman "Preacher" Dudley, is attacked by the first shark, but kills it by throwing a lighter into the kitchen's oven that had been turned on. He then encounters Carter, Tom and Susan.

Traumatized by Janice and Russell's deaths, Tom goes with Carter to the flooded lab to activate controls to open a door to the surface. The largest shark attacks them, killing Tom. Meanwhile, Susan heads into her room to collect her research material, but while there, she is ambushed by the second shark. She narrowly escapes by climbing onto a table and disconnects a nearby power cable, taking off her clothes, and electrocuting the shark in her underwear, destroying her research in the process. Carter, Susan and Preacher go to the top of the research center through a decompression chamber and swim to the surface. Preacher is caught by the third shark and dragged through the water, but swims to safety after stabbing the shark in the eye with his crucifix, causing it to release him.

Carter realizes that the third shark is trying to escape to the open sea, and that the sharks made them flood the facility so they could escape through the weaker mesh fences at the surface. In an effort to distract the final shark, Susan cuts herself and dives into the water. When she attempts to climb out, the ladder breaks and she is killed by the shark. Carter dives in to try to save her but is too late. Grabbing hold of the shark's fin, he is pulled through the water. Preacher grabs hold of the harpoon and shoots the shark through its dorsal fin, but the spear also goes through Carter's thigh. As the shark breaks through the fence, Carter is attached to the shark by the harpoon. He tells Preacher to connect the trailing wire to a car battery, sending an electric current through the wire and to an explosive charge in the harpoon, killing the shark. Carter managed to free himself in time, and he swims to the wreckage of the facility, joining Preacher in time to see the workers' boat en-route on the horizon.



According to an interview in The Los Angeles Times, Deep Blue Sea was originally inspired by Australian screenwriter Duncan Kennedy's witnessing firsthand "the horrific effects of a shark attack when a victim washed up on a beach near his home." This brought on a recurring nightmare of "being in a passageway with sharks that could read his mind." The interview mentions that Kennedy "purged those dreams by sitting down and writing a screenplay that eventually evolved into (the) Warner Bros. thriller, "Deep Blue Sea."" Kennedy acknowledged that "whenever anyone mentions a shark movie, they naturally think of Steven Spielberg. The problem with approaching a shark movie is how do you do it without repeating Jaws?"[4]

Renny Harlin describes the production on the film's commentary.[5] The film was shot entirely in Mexico. The sets used for the interiors of the facility were built so that they could be submerged in a water-tank to create the illusion of the facility sinking practically. However, for windows, separate water-tanks with lights shining through them were used.

The film made an extensive use of digital doubles for actors being eaten by sharks.[6] Depending on the scenes, the sharks were either animatronic (when interacting with actors) or computer generated (when in water). As an added homage to Jaws, the license plate pulled from the shark's teeth by Carter is the same plate found in the tiger shark carcass from the 1975 Steven Spielberg film.

Samuel Jackson was initially offered the role eventually played by LL Cool J. Jackson's management didn't like the idea of him playing a chef, so Harlin created the role of Russell Franklin for him.[citation needed]

Speaking with The Los Angeles Times, screenwriter Kennedy noted that in Jaws, the shark was 25 feet long, so Harlin had to do Spielberg one better. "He increased [our shark] to 26 feet," Kennedy said.[4]


The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 57% rating with 52 positive reviews out of 92 reviews with an average rating of 5.6/10. The consensus states "Aside from a few thrills, Deep Blue Sea is unoriginal and unintelligent." Empire magazine gave the film three out of five stars, saying "It was never going to crash any parties come Oscar night, or usurp previous nature-fights-back epics (Jurassic et al), but Deep Blue Sea remains defiant. It's about giant sharks eating people. And that's exactly what you get."[7] Roger Ebert went further, saying of the film "In a genre where a lot of movies are retreads of the predictable, 'Deep Blue Sea' keeps you guessing."[8]

Writing in People, horror novelist Stephen King described his recovery from a near-fatal accident: "My first trip after being smacked by a van and almost killed was to the movies (Deep Blue Sea, as a matter of fact; I went in my wheelchair and loved every minute of it)."[9]

The film opened on July 28, 1999 and grossed $19,107,643 ($25,164,533 including Thursday screenings/previews) in its opening weekend and went on to earn $73,648,142 domestically and $164,648,142 worldwide.[10] The film was released on DVD October 26, 1999 and was ranked #1 release for the week ending October 31, 1999 and remained in the DVD rental top 10 for eight weeks.[11]


A soundtrack was released on June 27, 1999 by Warner Bros. Records featuring rap and R&B music. The soundtrack made it to #55 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Composer Trevor Rabin scored the original music for the film. The released soundtrack contains 10 tracks.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Samuel L. Jackson's surprising death scene in the film appears on several lists of best movie deaths of all time, including Den of Geek's "10 surprise deaths in blockbuster movies",[13] the list "Greatest Movie Deaths of All Time",[14] and The Vine's "Top ten surprise movie deaths".[15]
  • Deep Blue Sea appeared on MythBusters in the episode "Phone Book Friction"[16] when they tested the many elements of the shark's death at the end of the film, with most being proven false.
  • The Sealab 2021 episode "Tinfins"[17] centers around the crew of Sealab making a movie which is an obvious spoof of Deep Blue Sea.
  • Several film reviews, including Rolling Stone, have noted distinct plot similarities between Deep Blue Sea and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). Both stories center on researchers using genetic therapies on animals' brains in an attempt to cure Alzheimer's disease; therapies that inadvertently make the animals intelligent, enabling them to escape and cause murderous mayhem. Reviewer Peter Travers noted that the newer film has mixed "twists lifted from 1972's Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and 1999's Deep Blue Sea".[18]
  • Many websites and reviews have mentioned plot and character similarities between Jurassic World and Deep Blue Sea. Christopher Rosen, Senior News Director at Entertainment Weekly, tweeted that "Jurassic World is my favorite Deep Blue Sea remake of 2015".[19] Major entertainment website Dark Horizons stated in its coverage of Jurassic World that "some aren't warming to the Deep Blue Sea meets Jaws 3-D storyline",[20] and Gawker/Defamer in its review of "Jurassic World" mentioned "Deep Blue Sea, another movie it borrows from liberally". Entertainment website Flickering Myth posted the story "Deja Vu: Isn't Jurassic World just Deep Blue Sea with dinosaurs?" which outlined plot and character similarities between the two films.[21] Pop culture website The Complex stated Jurassic World was "basically going to be the big budget Deep Blue Sea re-imagining that we all deserve. Scientists, driven by a cold near-heartless leader, tinkering with already smart animals. The beast whisperer who warns against fucking with nature. It's like watching Saffron Burrows and Thomas Jane flirt all over again. And the common denominator between Deep Blue Sea and Jurassic Park franchise: iconic Samuel L. Jackson moment."[22]

Potential sequel[edit]

In 2008, it was stated that Warner Premiere was planning a sequel to Deep Blue Sea, according to a studio source. It was also announced that the film would be released direct-to-Video, hitting shelves in 2009. Renny Harlin confirmed no involvement. Since then, no news has been given on the sequel.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Producer Spikings-Goldsman dies of heart attack". Variety. 2010-07-07. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  2. ^ "Film Distribution - Village Roadshow Limited". Village Roadshow Pictures. 2014-02-11. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Deep Blue Sea (1999) - Box Office Mojo". 
  4. ^ a b "'Blue Sea' Hopes to Be Box-Office Big Fish". Los Angeles Times. 1999-07-26. 
  5. ^ Deep Blue Sea, commentary by Renny Harlin and Samuel L. Jackson, Warner Home Video, 2000
  6. ^ Friday, January 18, 2013 DEEP BLUE SEA
  7. ^ "Deep Blue See Review". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. 
  8. ^ "Deep Blue Sea". Chicago Sun-Times. 1999-07-28. 
  9. ^ King, Stephen (1999-12-10). "The Reel Stephen King". Entertainment Weekly. 
  10. ^ Deep Blue Sea (1999) – Weekend Box Office Results. Box Office Mojo
  11. ^ USA DVD Rentals: 12 December 1999. imdb
  12. ^ "Deep Blue Sea (Trevor Rabin)". Filmtracks. 1999-08-24. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  13. ^ "10 surprise deaths in blockbuster movies". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  14. ^ "Deep Blue Sea – Mid-Speech Death – Greatest Movie Deaths of All Time". 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  15. ^ Anthony Morris (2011-04-12). "Top ten surprise movie deaths – Top10". Archived from the original on 2015-05-07. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  16. ^ MythBusters, Phone Book Friction, aired September 10, 2008
  17. ^ Sealab 2010, Episode 19, production code 2210, aired December 8, 2002
  18. ^ Peter Travers (2011-08-04). "Rise of the Planet of the Apes | Movie Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  19. ^ "Christopher Rosen on Twitter". Twitter. 
  20. ^ ""Jurassic World" Gates Will Be Practical | News | Dark Horizons". 
  21. ^ "Deja Vu: Isn't Jurassic World just Deep Blue Sea with dinosaurs?". Flickering Myth. 2015-04-19. 
  22. ^ "The Thirst Is Open: Two "Jurassic Park" Nerds Discuss That New "Jurassic World" Trailer". Complex. 
  23. ^ "Deep Blue Sea 2 Coming Straight to DVD?". 2008-08-19. 

External links[edit]