The creators behind 'shark-ized' monster in 'The Meg' hope 'fear and humanity' works in their favor
Creators of 'The Meg' take the term 'monster movie' to another level with it's terrifying portrayal of The Megladon in this Chinese co-production.
Based on author Steve Alten's best-selling 1997 novel, 'The Meg' follows scientists, whose undersea observation program has been attacked by a massive creature that was previously thought to be instinct. Expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (played by Jason Statham) is recruited to save the crew, and the ocean itself, by fighting off one of the greatest and most terrifying predators of all time, the Megladon.
Director John Turtletaub's movies are all very different, directing films like the romantic comedy 'While You Were Sleeping,' to the goofy comedy 'Cool Runnings,' to the beloved 'National Treasure' franchise. Each film couldn't be more different, including his newest film 'The Meg.' However Turtletaub does have something that he brings to every project he directs, humanity.
"Humanity and people are what I bring to all of my projects. These are movies about people, and you want them to feel like movies about people, you know? My feeling is, if the audience wishes they were in that movie, that they were in the world of that movie, that they knew the people in that movie, then you have done something right.”
However the big question is, did he even humanize the killer shark that is the obvious antagonist of 'The Meg'?
“No, but I shark-ized the shark and that is more important. If you humanize creatures too much, you are going to lose the thing that makes them special. It is very hard to humanize a shark, because it doesn’t have a face like we do. It’s got eyes on separate sides of its head, it never smiles, it never frowns and it doesn’t have eyebrows, so it’s a little bit easier to make a movie about a giant gorilla if you want to humanize it. Sharks, snakes…not so much.”
In that same vein, producer Belle Avery believes that sharks are one of the most terrifying creatures, which is what really drew her to the project.
"I honestly can’t think of anything more scary. Because the water is so beautiful and it looks so nice and the sand is so nice and beautiful, and you think you can go in there safely and then you realize the sharks are in there. They are really scary creatures, they are majestic and basically machines, they never stop moving. And that, with a lot of teeth, is pretty scary.”
Besides the obvious appeal of this summer's blockbuster monster movie, there is another aspect of the film that makes it unique, which the fact that it is co-financed and co-produced by Gravity Pictures, the film studio of entertainment conglomerate China Media Capital.
“When I bought the book in 2008 I wanted to make this the first true, if you will, co-production with China. So I went to China to find the partner first, because I wanted it to be their franchise like 'Jurassic Park' is the US’ franchise. So I wanted to bring it together to make it a global franchise, but with China in the lead if you will, and that’s what we did. We created the Chinese elements first, and then we hired American screenwriters and we really built it out so that I hope the Chinese are proud of it and I hope that globally fans all over will love it."
The writer of the novel, Steve Alten, had to hand over his "baby", if you will, to Avery giving up creative control. However, he had the utmost confidence in her and the project.
“I don’t really know if I was in a position to do anything once they optioned the rights. But I had Belle Avery in my corner, she safeguarded the project, and did it right, so I had no problem with her handling it.” Avery hopes audiences will "love it as much as we loved making it and as much as we love watching it.”
'The Meg' hits theaters on August 10th in the US, India, the UK and China.