'The Meg' Director Jon Turteltaub Talks 'Jaws,' 'Jurassic Park' Influences
Stars Jason Statham, Ruby Rose and Li Bingbing also made the scene at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday night for the film's world premiere.
The movie poster for The Meg features an image of a giant shark rising from the depths of the ocean under unsuspecting beachgoers, conjuring up reminders of another summer movie, 1975's Jaws.
“[This] was the genre of movie that made me want to be a movie director,” director Jon Turteltaub told The Hollywood Reporter at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday. “Jaws was everything to me. It changed my life.”
The Meg, based on the book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, follows a crew of oceanographers as it discovers unexplored depths of the Marianas Trench and unknowingly let loose the prehistoric megalodon on the coast of China.
The film is already drawing comparisons not only to the famed shark blockbuster but also to Jurassic Park.
“A lot of people compare the movie to Jaws and Jurassic Park, yet no one has ever compared me to Steven Spielberg, so I have no idea what this means,” Turteltaub joked, adding that there are some similarities because “Jurassic Park was so interesting because it’s a time-travel movie where the people don’t travel through time, the monster does, and that’s the same story here.”
As actor Cliff Curtis put it: “It’s a good throwback to the '80s and '90s summer popcorn movies.”
While it’s natural to draw comparisons about the films (which all hit theaters in the summer and all toy with audiences' fears about the unknown possibilities of nature), there are some clear distinctions among them. Most notably, the cast didn’t have an animatronic shark to act alongside, and this creature is much larger than any ordinary great white.
“We’re acting against a blue screen, and we don’t have reference footage,” Heroes star Masi Oka told THR. “Everything is post and CG, so it’s like, ‘Just pretend you have a 70-foot shark that’s coming after you.’”
Turteltaub, who helmed both National Treasure films, is no newcomer to action movies. However, he said making a film about a prehistoric monster terrorizing the ocean was unlike anything he’d ever done — which is why he took on the project.
“I’d never made this movie before, and I hate making the same kind of movie twice,” he said.
Actors including Jason Statham (who free-dived with bull sharks to prepare for his role), Ruby Rose and Li Bingbing walked the carpet as summer pop tunes by Katy Perry blasted from the speakers.
Designed to look like a long stretch of ocean with swimmers floating along in their inner tubes, the carpet greeted guests with divers floating in a live tank reenactment of the movie poster and a shark monster truck.
The film lured a crowd to fill the Chinese Theatre and earned numerous laughs.
However, Meg author Alten warned fans not to get too comfortable, because it’s unclear whether this monster is actually gone for good.
“This was the apex predator of all time, and what’s interesting is they may still be out there,” he told THR, adding: “There’s no proof that they’re not out there because we’ve never explored more than 5 percent of the ocean.”
It’s enough to make anyone wonder, including actor Page Kennedy.
“When this movie comes out I feel like everyone is going to be thinking, ‘What happens if this thing is real?’” he said.
The Meg opens Aug. 10.