The Shallows (film)

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The Shallows
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJaume Collet-Serra
Written byAnthony Jaswinski
Produced by
  • Lynn Harris
  • Matti Leshem
CinematographyFlavio Labiano
Edited byJoel Negron
Music byMarco Beltrami
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release dates
  • June 21, 2016 (2016-06-21) (New York City)
  • June 24, 2016 (2016-06-24) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$17 million[2][3]
Box office$119.1 million[2]

The Shallows is a 2016 American survival thriller film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, written by Anthony Jaswinski and starring Blake Lively. In the film, a medical student, surfing on vacation, gets stranded 200 yards (180 m) from shore and must use her wits and determination to survive a great white shark attack. Principal photography began in October 2015 in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia.

The film was released in the United States on June 24, 2016, by Columbia Pictures. The film received generally positive reviews and grossed over $119 million against a production budget in the range of $17–25 million, becoming a box office success.


Shortly after the death of her mother due to cancer, medical student Nancy Adams travels to a secluded beach in Mexico, the same beach her mother visited while she was pregnant with her. Carlos, a friendly local resident, gives Nancy a ride and drops her off at the beach, while a friend of hers who came along with her is staying back at a hotel after partying too much.

Nancy joins two other locals and the three surf for several hours. Taking a break from surfing, she video-chats with her younger sister Chloe. When she talks to her father in an emotional and strained conversation, it is revealed that Nancy is a senior student but her mother's death recently caused her to consider dropping out of medical school before graduation.

While surfing one last time for the day, Nancy notices the carcass of a young humpback whale nearby. As she rides the last wave back to the beach, a large 23 ft (7.0 m) great white shark knocks her off her surfboard and bites her leg. Nancy climbs onto the whale carcass, but the shark rams it from underneath, forcing her to swim to an isolated rock. She uses her surfboard leash to slow the bleeding from her leg. Later she uses her jewelry to put rudimentary stitches in place to hold her torn flesh together.

Nancy is left alone when the unaware locals leave the beach, and she spends the night on the rock with a wounded gull, which was also injured by the shark, and names him Steven Seagull. The next morning, a drunk local man on the beach starts to steal Nancy's belongings. While wading out into the shallow water to take her surfboard, however, he is killed by the shark. Several hours later, the two locals Nancy had surfed with the day before return. They get into the water although Nancy tries to warn them away, and are also killed by the shark.

One of the local surfers was wearing a GoPro camera on his helmet. When he was attacked by the shark, his helmet came off and floated to the surface. Nancy later sees it floating in the water. After some struggle, she is able to retrieve it and notices in the footage of the attack, the shark has a large hook stuck in its mouth after a possible encounter with fishermen. Nancy uses the GoPro to leave messages for her sister and father as well as information about the shark attack and her location.

With high tide approaching, Nancy realizes the rock will be submerged soon. After sending Steven Seagull toward shore on a piece of the surfboard, and timing the shark's circles from the whale carcass to the rock, Nancy swims to a nearby buoy, narrowly avoiding the shark by swimming through a group of jellyfish, which sting both the shark and her. Nancy finds a flare gun on the buoy.

Nancy shoots one flare to draw the attention of a faraway cargo ship, but it has already turned away and does not see her. She then fires another flare at the shark, setting the oil from the whale carcass alight and angering it, but otherwise having no effect. The shark then ferociously attacks the buoy, ripping out the chains securing it to the ocean bed. Nancy straps herself to the last remaining chain and as it is ripped from the buoy, she is pulled down to the ocean floor, pursued by the shark. At the last moment, she pulls out of the dive, and the shark impales itself on rebar protruding from the buoy's anchor.

Later, a boy named Miguel (from the opening of the film at the beach) finds the GoPro and informs his father, then revealed to be Carlos. Carlos finds Nancy floating close to shore and revives her. She briefly sees a hallucination of her mother. As she looks around the beach, she sees that Steven Seagull has made it to the shore. One year later, a healed Nancy (now graduated as an official doctor) and her sister Chloe go surfing in Galveston, Texas, as their father tells Nancy that her mother would have been very proud of her for not giving up.


  • Blake Lively as Nancy Adams
    • Ava Dean as Young Nancy Adams
  • Óscar Jaenada as Carlos
  • Brett Cullen as Mr. Adams
  • Sedona Legge as Chloe Adams
  • Pablo Calva as Boy, Carlos' son
  • Janelle Bailey as Mrs. Adams
    • Chelsea Moody as young Mrs. Adams
  • Sully Seagull as Sully 'Steven' Seagull
  • Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo as Bi-lingual Surfer
  • Joseph Salas as Portuguese speaking Surfer
  • Diego Espejel as Intoxicated Man


Initially, Louis Leterrier was to direct, though he dropped out in June 2015,[4][5] leading to Jaume Collet-Serra being considered for the job.[6] Collet-Serra viewed the movie as one about survival and noted "this isn't a creature movie".[7] Likewise from the very beginning Collet-Serra decided not to place an emphasis on gore.[7] Blake Lively joined the cast in August 2015.[8] Lively was partly inspired by her husband Ryan Reynolds's work in the similarly minimalist film Buried, stating "that was one of the reasons why I wanted to take on this movie so much, because I know how tough that was for him and how rewarding it was."[9]

For the seagull character of Steven Seagull, the usage of both CGI and a puppet was considered based on the belief that it would be inordinately hard to train such a bird to act. This "horrified" both producers, Matti Leshem and Lynn Harris, who wanted to work with an actual animal. While scouting for location in Australia, Lively was able to feed a group of seagulls, at which point it was realized that it would be possible to use them for production.[10] The initial script featured Lively talking to the bird much more, and likewise, scenes featuring such an interaction were shot. However, in the end, Collet-Serra decided on a less-is-more approach,[11] noting that "...we didn't want her to be like Snow White talking to animals. When you see her predicament, you get it. You don't need her to explain everything to a seagull!"[12]


Principal photography began on October 28, 2015 in New South Wales, Australia.[13][14] Filming also took place at Lord Howe Island,[15][16] Mount Tamborine, Queensland and Village Roadshow Studios. It originally was going to be filmed on the Gulf Coast of the United States near Galveston, but the filmmakers were denied a film permit for safety reasons.[16] Filming wrapped on January 15, 2016.[17]

Much of the film was shot in a tank using bluescreens for effects. Still, Collet-Serra wanted to avoid the "more stylized look" of similar films using the set up and estimated that 10% of the film was shot on location in order to "trick" the audience into believing the setting was real: he explains: "Every scene has one shot that is real, and the other 99% is not – but the one real shot tricks you".[7] The shark was made entirely through computer-generated imagery, which was only completed close to the start of the marketing campaign for the film.[18] /Film noted that the use of CGI was unusual for Collet-Serra, as he typically used practical effects as opposed to the digital ones required by the shoot.[18] Kelly Richardson was the lead stunt double in all the action scenes in the film, and Isabella Nichols was the lead surf double. Lively ended up performing a few of her own stunts, including a shot where her character breaks her nose. In reality, Lively really did hurt herself in that scene and the blood on her nose is real.[10]


The Shallows was originally supposed to be released on June 29, 2016, but to avoid The Purge: Election Year and their second weekend being on the holiday of July 4, the film was instead released on Friday, June 24, 2016, by Columbia Pictures.[19]

Box office[edit]

The Shallows grossed $55.1 million in North America and $64 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $119.1 million,[2] against a budget of $25 million.[3]

The film opened on June 24, 2016, alongside Independence Day: Resurgence and Free State of Jones, and was projected to gross around $7 million from 2,800 theaters in its opening weekend, with some estimates going as high as $11–12 million.[20] The film grossed $1.3 million from Thursday night previews[21] and $6.8 million on its first day.[22] In its opening weekend, the film grossed $16.7 million, finishing fourth at the box office behind Finding Dory ($73.2 million), Independence Day: Resurgence ($41.6 million) and Central Intelligence ($18.4 million). This was nearly double the expectations of the studio, with Josh Greenstein, Sony president of worldwide marketing and distribution, saying, "We had the best reviewed new movie of the weekend and combined with a great audience response saw a fantastic result. People wanted to watch a film with quality that was original in this summer landscape."[23]

Critical response[edit]

The Shallows received generally positive reviews from critics, with Lively's performance being praised.[24] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 78% based on 220 reviews with an average rating of 6.50/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Lean and solidly crafted, The Shallows transcends tired shark-attack tropes with nasty thrills and a powerful performance from Blake Lively."[25] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[26] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[27]

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times, enjoyed the film, calling it an "immensely entertaining millennial B-Movie, made for summertime viewing."[28] Simon Thompson of IGN gave the film a 9/10, noting, "The Shallows does for surfing what The Blair Witch Project did for camping and makes Jaws look like a children's tea party... Terrifyingly good."[29] Matt Zoller Seitz of gave the film three stars, commending the performance of Blake Lively while adding "Lively is superb here, giving one of those hyper-focused, action-led performances that's as much an athletic feat as an aesthetic one."[30]

Staci Layne Wilson of Dread Central gave the film a negative review, saying although she wanted to like it, she felt that with "Jaume Collet-Serra's sledgehammer-style direction, Anthony Jaswinski's intelligence-insulting screenplay, and Marco Beltrami's misguided musical score, The Shallows is impossible to endorse."[31] The A.V. Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, while finding the film intermittently entertaining, considered it a step down from director Collet-Serra's previous "gimmicky genre piece" Non-Stop as well as lacking a genuine, sustained sense of suspense. He also took issue with the writing, stating: "Anthony Jaswinski’s screenplay bogs down this no-brainer survival premise (“get off the rock and don’t die”) with needless backstory and inchoate themes. Can't a heroine just survive a vicious shark attack without also having to overcome a family trauma and make a decision about whether or not she wants to be a doctor?"[32]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Golden Tomato Awards January 12, 2017 Best Thriller Movie 2016 The Shallows 5th place [33]
People's Choice Awards January 18, 2017 Favorite Thriller Movie The Shallows Nominated [34]
Saturn Awards June 28, 2017 Best Thriller Film The Shallows Nominated [35]
Teen Choice Awards July 31, 2016 Choice Summer Movie Star: Female Blake Lively Nominated [36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Shallows (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 27, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "The Shallows (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "About Weimaraner Republic Pictures". Weimaraner Republic Pictures. Retrieved April 4, 2018. ...Produced for a modest budget of $25M, THE SHALLOWS grossed an impressive $118M worldwide in its theatrical release window...
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 23, 2015). "Louis Letterier in Swim on Sony Shark Tale 'In The Deep'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  5. ^ Sneider, Jeff (June 3, 2015). "Sony's Shark Movie 'In the Deep' Loses Director Louis Leterrier (Exclusive)". Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  6. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 24, 2015). "Jaume Collet-Serra Circling Sony Shark Pic 'In The Deep'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Donato, Matt (June 27, 2016). "Exclusive Interview: Jaume Collet-Serra Talks The Shallows". Wegotthiscovered. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  8. ^ Kit, Borys (August 11, 2015). "Blake Lively in Talks to Star in Shark Thriller 'In The Deep'". Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  9. ^ Stack, Tim. "How Ryan Reynolds inspired Blake Lively to star in shark thriller The Shallows". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Greco, Patti (June 23, 2016). "13 Crazy Behind-the-Scenes Facts About Blake Lively's Shark Movie, The Shallows". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  11. ^ Buchanan, Kyle. "The Breakout Movie Star of the Summer Is the Seagull From The Shallows". Vulture. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  12. ^ Alter, Ethan. "Meet 'The Shallows' Breakout Bird, Steven Seagull". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  13. ^ Frater, Patrick (August 30, 2015). "Sony's 'The Shallows' To Shoot in Australia". Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  14. ^ "On the Set for 10/30/15: Keanu Reeves Starts on John Wick Sequel, Seth Rogen and Zac Efron Wrap Up Neighbors 2". October 30, 2015. Archived from the original on November 1, 2015. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  15. ^ Marcus, Stephanie (November 3, 2015). "Blake Lively Is A Beach Babe in Tiny Bikini While Filming in Australia". Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Willis, Charlotte (November 5, 2015). "Blake Lively flaunts her unbelievable figure while filming on Lord Howe Island". Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  17. ^ FilmL.A. (June 2017). "2016 Feature Film Study" (PDF). Film LA. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Giroux, Jack (June 23, 2016). "Interview: 'The Shallows' Director Jaume Collet-Serra on "The Fear That Lasts a Year"". Slashfilm. p. 1. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  19. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 5, 2015). "Sony Dates 16 Films Including Two More 'Bad Boys' Sequels, 'Jumanji' Remake". Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  20. ^ "'Independence Day', 'Shallows' & 'Free State of Jones' Must Contend with 'Finding Dory' - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  21. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 24, 2016). "'Dory' Dominates Thursday Over 'Independence Day' Sequel & 'Shallows' Previews". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  22. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 26, 2016). "'Dory' Swallows 'Resurgence'; 'Shallows' Rides $16M Wave; 'Free State of Jones' & 'Neon Demon' Wounded". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  23. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 26, 2016). "'Dory' Posts Record Second Weekend For Animated Movie As Fireworks Die For 'Resurgence'; 'Shallows' Chomps $16M+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  24. ^ "'The Shallows' Review Roundup: Blake Lively's Shark Thriller Is Deeper Than You Might Think". June 23, 2016.
  25. ^ "The Shallows (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  26. ^ "The Shallows Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  27. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  28. ^ "As 'The Shallows' shark snack, Blake Lively a seasoned pro". June 23, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  29. ^ Thompson, Simon (June 23, 2016). "The Shallows Review". IGN. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  30. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller. "The Shallows Movie Review & Film Summary (2016) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  31. ^ "Shallows, The (2016) - Dread Central". June 23, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  32. ^ Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy (June 23, 2016). "The gimmicky survival thriller The Shallows is out of its depth". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  33. ^ "Golden Tomato Awards - Best of 2016". Rotten Tomatoes. January 12, 2017.
  34. ^ Hipes, Patrick (November 15, 2016). "People's Choice Awards Nominees Set". Deadline Hollywood.
  35. ^ McNary, Dave (March 2, 2017). "Saturn Awards Nominations 2017: 'Rogue One,' 'Walking Dead' Lead". Variety. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  36. ^ Vulpo, Mike (May 24, 2016). "Teen Choice Awards 2016 Nominations Announced: See the "First Wave" of Potential Winners". E!. Archived from the original on May 26, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016.

External links[edit]