Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jon Turteltaub|
|Based on||Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror|
by Steve Alten
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||Steven Kemper|
|Box office||$530.2 million|
The Meg is an 2018 American science fiction action film directed by Jon Turteltaub with a screenplay by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Erich Hoeber, loosely based on the 1997 book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten. The film stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose and Winston Chao. The film follows a group of scientists who encounter a 75-foot-long (23 m) megalodon shark while on a rescue mission at the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
Walt Disney Studios originally purchased the film rights to the book in the 1990s, but spent several years in development hell. The rights eventually landed at Warner Bros. Pictures, and the film was green-lit in 2015. Turteltaub and much of the cast joined by September 2016, and filming began the following month in New Zealand and Sanya, China, ending in January 2017. The Meg was released in both countries on August 10, 2018, in RealD 3D. It was a box office success and grossed over $530 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, with some describing it as entertaining and others calling it "neither good enough nor bad enough" to be fun. A sequel, titled Meg 2: The Trench, is in development.
Rescue diver Jonas Taylor attempts to save the crew of a damaged nuclear submarine when he sees the hull being rammed by an unidentified creature. Two of his crew are trapped in the damaged sub, but Taylor is forced to flee, realizing that attempting rescue would result in the deaths of everyone he has already saved. His account of the story is dismissed by fellow survivor Dr. Heller, who believes that Taylor turned drunk and cowardly due to induced pressure psychosis.
Five years later, billionaire Jack Morris meets Dr. Minway Zhang at an underwater research facility the former financer called Mana One. Zhang and his oceanographer daughter Suyin supervise a mission to explore what could be the deepest section of the Mariana Trench, concealed by a thermocline of hydrogen sulfide. The mission submersible is piloted by Lori, Taylor's ex-wife, accompanied by scientists Toshi and "The Wall". They discover an abundance of never-before-seen flora and fauna below the thermocline, but an attack by a large, unidentified creature causes the submersible to lose contact with Mana One.
An old friend of Taylor's, Mana One operations manager James "Mac" Mackreides, suggests sending Taylor down to attempt a rescue. Despite the objections of Heller, now a member of the Mana One crew, who said that Jonas Taylor had let their friends die in the damaged submarine, Zhang and Mac venture to Thailand to recruit Taylor. He is initially skeptical but relents after listening to a taped recording containing the dialogue between Lori, her crew, and Mana One. Suyin attempts the rescue in their absence but is attacked by a giant squid. Before the squid can crush her submersible, it is killed by a gigantic shark. Taylor, having agreed to help, breaches the thermocline and reaches the sunken submersible. When the shark returns and attacks the submersible before the evacuation has been completed, Toshi sacrifices himself to help the others escape.
Returning to Mana One, the crew discovers the giant shark is a megalodon, or "meg". While discussing how to address it, Suyin's daughter Meiying witnesses the shark arriving at the station. The crew realizes that the meg followed them through a temporary break they caused in the thermocline, and resolves to go out and track the meg before killing it with poison. After the meg destroys three nearby ships, Taylor enters the water to shoot the meg with a tracker, then the team puts Suyin in a shark-proof tank so she can shoot the meg with poison. However, the mission goes awry when the shark begins to swallow the cage and cracks Suyin's mask, causing her to lose oxygen. Taylor gets her out just as the meg returns, though it gets snagged on the cage's line and dies from the poison. In their moment of triumph, a second, much larger meg emerges, devouring The Wall and the dead meg, critically wounding Zhang, and destroying the crew's ship. Heller sacrifices himself to save fellow crew member Jaxx. Mac swims out to a floating lifeboat so he and the crew can regroup at Mana One, though Zhang dies on the way. The shark chases them, but it is deterred by a helicopter Morris called in.
Morris claims he has informed all the local governments about the meg and they will handle it, while secretly enlisting a mercenary team to kill the shark with depth charges. Amidst this, Morris is thrown overboard and killed. Learning the government's refusal to help out of disbelief, the Mana One crew resolve to track and kill the shark themselves.
The meg attacks a crowded beach in Sanya Bay, China and devours several beach-goers before the Mana One crew use a whale call to divert its attention toward them. Taylor and Suyin work together to kill it, but Suyin is forced to break off to save the others when a helicopter crashing into their ship forces them into the water. Taylor fatally wounds the beast, and attracted by the spilled blood, several smaller sharks approach and devour the dying meg. Taylor rejoins the Mana One crew and considers taking a vacation with Suyin and Meiying. Underwater, the sound of a passing meg is heard, implying that more than two may have escaped the trench.
- Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor
- Li Bingbing as Suyin
- Rainn Wilson as Jack Morris
- Ruby Rose as Jaxx
- Winston Chao as Minway Zhang
- Page Kennedy as DJ
- Jessica McNamee as Lori Taylor
- Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as "The Wall"
- Robert Taylor as Dr. Heller
- Sophia Cai as Meiying
- Masi Oka as Toshi
- Cliff Curtis as James "Mac" Mackreides
The rights to the novel were initially acquired by Disney's Hollywood Pictures in 1996. Around that time, Tom Wheeler was hired to adapt the book into a screenplay, but, having decided that his script wasn't good enough, the studio hired Jeffrey Boam to write a new draft. Boam's script was later rejected for the same reason. By 1999 the project had stalled and the rights reverted to Steve Alten, the book's author.
In 2005, reports surfaced that the project was being developed by New Line Cinema, with an estimated budget of $75 million, and a slated release of summer 2006. Names attached to the production included Jan de Bont as director, Guillermo Del Toro as producer and Shane Salerno as screenwriter. However, New Line later cancelled the project due to budgetary concerns. The rights reverted to Alten again, but the film remained in development hell.
In 2015, it was announced that the film was now moving forward at Warner Bros., with a new script written by Dean Georgaris. By June of that year, Eli Roth was reported to be in talks to direct, but, due to creative differences, Roth was replaced by Jon Turteltaub in early 2016. Jason Statham and much of the cast joined in August and September 2016.
Visual effects were done by Sony Imageworks, Image Engine and Scanline VFX. The visual effects team was challenged with not only designing a previously undiscovered prehistoric giant shark, but also designing the underwater environments and atmospherics, including realistic coral reefs, bubbles, and other sea life.
Released by Gravity Pictures in China and by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States, the film was originally scheduled to be released on March 2, 2018. Warner and Gravity then said that the film would be released during the 2018 Chinese New Year period in China, a week-long annual holiday that kicked off on February 16, 2018. The film was later pushed back from its original release date of March 2, 2018 to August 10, 2018, in 3D and IMAX.
The Meg was released for digital download on October 30, 2018, and on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on November 13. As of August 2020 it is available to stream on Amazon Prime in the United Kingdom. It is also available on Amazon Prime in the United States.
The Meg grossed $145.4 million in the United States and Canada, as well as $384.8 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $530.2 million, against a production budget between $130 million to $178 million.
In the United States and Canada, The Meg was released alongside Slender Man and BlacKkKlansman; it was originally projected to gross $20–22 million from 4,118 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $4 million from Thursday night previews, leading analysts to predict it would outperform its low-$20 million projections. After making $16.5 million on its first day, weekend estimates were raised to $40 million. It went on to debut to $45.4 million, topping the box office and marking the best solo opening of Statham's career, as well as Turteltaub's. It made $21.5 million in its second weekend and $13 million in its third, finishing second behind Crazy Rich Asians both times.
In other territories, the film debuted to $101.5 million from 96 countries, for a worldwide opening of $146.9 million. In China, a co-producer of the film, it grossed $50.3 million from 12,650 screens, ranked 3 in the opening weekend. Other top openings were Mexico ($6.2 million), Russia ($5 million), the United Kingdom ($4.4 million), Spain ($2.4 million) and the Philippines ($2 million).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 46% based on 293 reviews, with an average rating of 5.31/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "The Meg sets audiences up for a good old-fashioned B-movie creature feature, but lacks the genre thrills—or the cheesy bite—to make it worth diving in." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 46 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a mixed review, calling it "neither good enough—nor bad enough," and writing, "The Meg, a rote sci-fi horror adventure film that features a shark the size of a blue whale, comes on like it wants to be the mother of all deep-sea attack movies. But it's really just the mother of all generically pandering, totally unsurprising Jaws ripoffs." Scott Mendelson of Forbes was impressed by the film's special effects and called it "a polished B movie that delivers the goods," while IGN's William Bibbiani praised the performances of the cast, particularly Statham. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Simon Abrams said the film was "refreshingly unpretentious" and "a breath of fresh air" compared to the Sharknado series.
In April 2018, Jason Statham said a Meg sequel would happen if the film did well with the public, saying "I think it's like anything in this day and age—if it makes money, there's obviously an appetite to make more money. And if it doesn't do well, they'll soon sweep it under the carpet. But that's the way Hollywood works." That August, Steve Alten said "My feeling has always been that this is a billion-dollar franchise if it was done right. But to be done right you had to get the shark right, get the cast right, get the tone right. And Warner Bros. have nailed it completely. The producers have nailed it."
In October 2018, executive producer Catherine Xujun Ying announced a sequel was in the early stages of development.
In March 2019, it was announced that a script for the film was in the works. In his September 2020 newsletter, Steve Alten confirmed the script, titled Meg 2: The Trench, to be complete, expressing interest in its "dark" tone and potential for an R-rating. British director Ben Wheatley was announced to direct on October 23, 2020.
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