〉The project has famously been in development hell for nearly twenty years.
The long-gestating adaptation of NY Times Bestseller MEG is now moving forward at Warner Bros. Sources reveal that the project, which has had three different homes over nearly twenty years, is a priority development. Described so eloquently as “Jurassic Park with a shark,” the film is based on the original bestselling novel Meg: A Novel Of Deep Terror written by Steve Alten, which centers on two men from opposite points of view that are forced to band together in order to neutralize the terror that’s threatening the California coast.
The Manchurian Candidate and Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life scribe Dean Georgaris scripted the latest draft of the adaptation, taking over for the nearly seven previous writers, including Alten, that penned different versions throughout the years. Sources reveal that Warner is currently in the midst of finding a director for the project. Veteran producer Colin Wilson, who has long been attached, will produce alongside Belle Avery, while Andrew Fischel and Cate Adams will oversee development for Warner.
Much like the dead creature on which the film is based, the project itself was at multiple instances extinct. The Meg adaptation was initially set up at Disney in 1997 when the book was published, a bid which cost the studio nearly a one million. The project eventually went into turnaround after Disney caught cold feet about competing with Warner’s 1999 killer shark pic Deep Blue Sea. Alten, frustrated at the lack of movement on the project, wrote his own draft which he showed to Nick Nunziata, who then in turn delivered to Guillermo Del Toro.
Del Toro took the project to Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin, who brought on Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life director Jan De Bont to helm. New Line Cinema then nabbed the rights in 2005 for a reported mid-six against seven-figures, and for years the project was in heavy development.
Nunziata, Del Toro, Gordon, Levin, Ken Atchity and Chi-Li Wong produced, with Shane Salerno scripting. New Line was so confident in Meg that the project was fast-tracked with a 2006 summer release date and an estimated $80-million budget, with the project even pitched to foreign distributors at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
De Bont went so far as to hire a production team consisting of Wilson (Jurassic Park, Avatar), production designer Bill Sandell (The Perfect Storm, Deep Blue Sea), and visual effects supervisor John Nelson (Gladiator, Iron Man). The team went on to develop animatics, storyboards, and even built a 5 foot clay/fiberglass model of the titular sea monster.
However, it appeared that New Line had jumped the shark, as Meg‘s price tag began to grow drastically higher and anticipated to push nearly $200 million. Recent box office disappointments urged concern and the studio ordered a cut to $125 million. Despite cuts being made, New Line still wanted more, leading to the film’s producers and creatives jumping ship. New Line’s adaptation eventually sunk, and the rights reverted back to Alten in 2007, who continued to push for the film to be made. Now, eight years later, the rights have landed at Warner and the project is back on track.
Alten’s bestselling debut novel, which was a hit at the Frankfurt Book Fair at the time of its release, was so successful that is spawned three sequels. The series follows a team of scientists that must capture a massive prehistoric shark, long believed to be extinct, that becomes unearthed from the depths of the Mariana Trench. The species in question is that of the Carcharodon Megalodon, an apex predator that reached nearly 80 ft, and went extinct around two million years ago.
Wilson, who has been attached to the project since the New Line stint, has worked on a number of classic blockbusters, including Jurassic Park, Avatar, War of The Worlds, and Troy. Up next, he’s currently serving as an executive producer on Warner’s forthcoming supervillain ensemble Suicide Squad, which stars Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto.
Though uncredited, Georgaris has worked on Life of Pi, Wanted, and Mission Impossible III. A producer and writer, he’s currently scripting Hasbro’s Stretch Armstrong adaptation, as well as producing Paramount’s fantasy The Girl Who Could Fly and horror comic adaptation Damn Nation. He’s repped by WME and Media Talent Group.
Clark Allen | Associate Editor