Eli Roth talks rescuing prehistoric-shark epic “MEG” from development hellMovies/TV,News Michael Gingold
Director Eli Roth has often extolled the freedom from development complications he’s experienced on his “Chilewood” films, which makes it a tad ironic that his next movie, MEG, has spent more time in the works than probably any other active Hollywood project. FANGORIA got some words from Roth on the long-mooted giant-shark feature.
Since Steve Alten’s MEG novel, about the appearance in the present day of a prehistoric Carcharodon megalodon (a 60-foot ancestor of the great white) that terrorizes the California coastline, was first published in 1997, it has been developed by Disney (with a script by THE DEAD ZONE’s Jeffrey Boam) and New Line (with Guillermo del Toro and Jan de Bont involved). Now at Warner Bros., MEG marks Roth’s first time getting his feet wet in the studio realm after independent features like the South America-lensed THE GREEN INFERNO (opening tomorrow) and KNOCK KNOCK (out October 9), and he says the process so far has been quite a positive one.
“Everyone’s been great, and very respectful,” he tells us. “Obviously, it’s a huge-budget project, but I’m working with a terrific writer, Dean Georgaris. I went in with very clear ideas of what I thought this movie should be. I read every draft that had been written, I read the novel, I read MEG: ORIGINS [one of several follow-ups Alten has penned], pulled from all the different sources and said, ‘This is the movie as I see it. This is the version of MEG I would do.’ I was very up-front about where I wanted to go with the story, and they loved it.
“Dean really liked my ideas,” Roth continues, “because he’d been under certain constraints when he wrote his previous script. So everybody came in saying, ‘Let’s start fresh; this is what we’re doing and this is how we’re doing it,’ and Dean turned in an amazing draft. So far, it has been a great experience. I mean, you can ask me again after the movie’s done, but… GREEN INFERNO and KNOCK KNOCK were movies I made for $5 million, and MEG is a $100-million movie, so obviously there are going to be a lot of voices in the mix, but that’s OK, because I’m ready for that, and I’m excited to do it. I really feel like I can make a great, great movie out of this.”