MEGS – REEL AND REAL
The principal megalodon in The Meg is about 75 feet long –four times larger than a great white shark.
The movie megalodon’s fin is approximately eight feet tall.
The film’s meg can travel at speeds over 80 knots.
The filmmakers spent a year developing the design of the meg.
In the novel Meg, upon which the film is based, the creature is a huge, albino version of a great white. The film’s meg is gray/brown and gnarly textured, which gives the meg a prehistoric look.
Megalodons have five rows of teeth. Each megalodon tooth is the size of an average human hand, with the largest megalodon tooth on record measuring eight inches long.
Megalodons were thought to have become extinct about two million years ago.
The Meg is based upon a novel by Steve Alten, who wrote five additional novels about the prehistoric shark.
While developing The Meg, producer Belle Avery made 22 trips to China – and was stopped at each trip by customs, which questioned her about the 7-inch megalodon tooth she carried in her purse.
The Meg’s meg is computer generated, so to convey the creature’s size to the cast and crew, the production created a drawing of the creature that stretched across a series of enormous shipping containers.
The year in which the film is set is not specified, but it’s approximately 2020.
Locations in China included Sanya Bay in Hainan Island; and New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf and two massive, purpose-built water tanks in Auckland.
Kumeu Film Studio in West Auckland, New Zealand was developed for filming of The Meg, through a partnership of the New Zealand Film Commission, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Warner Bros. Pictures and Gravity Pictures.
The story’s submersibles, called “gliders,” descend approximately 11,000 meters under the ocean’s surface.
Some of the creatures at that depth were invented by the film’s visual effects artists, who based them on existing marine life forms that they hybridized or augmented to create fantastical new species.
To record Li Bingbing as Suyin underwater talking to the characters aboard a boat, the filmmakers placed a microphone inside her diving mask with a cable going up to the water’s surface and into the sound mixer’s console. The cable was later removed by visual effects.
An underwater speaker enabled Li Bingbing to hear instructions from director Jon Turteltaub and the other actors feeding her lines.
A whale that encounters the meg is also a CG creation. (As we say in the movies, “No animals were harmed…”)
The glider sets were mounted onto a motion-controlled base, which allowed both the technicians and actors to control the glider movements – effectively turning the set into a simulator.
The production built the Charlotte boat deck on hydraulics in a massive tank built for the film.
The production used up to sixteen boats to capture the action.
More than 2000 extras were used for an epic sequence filmed at Hainan Island in China.
No dogs were harmed during the making of The Meg. Promise.
The Meg cast is truly international: Jason Statham (Jason Taylor) is from the UK; Li Bingbing (Suyin), Sophia Cai (Meiying) and Winston Chao (Zhang) are from China; Cliff Curtis (Mac) hails from New Zealand; Jessica McNamee (Lori), Robert Taylor (Heller) and Ruby Rose (Jaxx) are Australians; Ólafur Darri ÓIlafsson (The Wall) is from Iceland; Masi Oka (Toshi) is from Japan; and Rainn Wilson (Morris) and Paige Kennedy (DJ) are from the US.
Li Bingbing’s commitment to green and charitable causes has earned her recognition as “the most influential global ambassador” from World Wildlife Fund.
When Rainn Wilson told his son that The Office star was going to be in a film entitled The Meg, the young man immediately retrieved his megalodon tooth, which had been gifted by his grandmother.
As a youngster, Ruby Rose eagerly studied and learned everything she could about megalodons.
Cliff Curtis, who comes from the Maori culture, was raised on stories about sharks and even has body art of shark representations.
Prior to becoming an actor, Robert Taylor worked many years at sea – in oil rigs and on ships – off the coasts of Australia and Indonesia, as well as in the Persian Gulf and North Sea. He was also an avid surfer.
Rainn Wilson’s character, Morris, is introduced in The Meg emerging from a helicopter – it was the first time the actor had traveled in one.
Stunt coordinator Allan Poppleton’s daughter, Scarlett, was a stunt double for Sophia Cai.
Kelsey Alten, the daughter of The Meg author Steve Alten, was an extra in the film.
The film’s cast, stunt performers and even 1000 background extras underwent grueling swim, strength and conditioning training over a four-week period.
They also had lessons in breathing, which included breathing into a salad bowl filled with water and with a mirror at the bottom.
Production designer and New Zealander Grant Major earned an Academy Award for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Stunt coordinator and New Zealand native Allan Poppleton previously collaborated with Jason Statham on The Expendables 2, Killer Elite, Mechanic: Resurrection and Parker. Poppleton’s other credits include Avatar and The Wolverine.
The Meg supervising art director Kim Sinclair earned an Academy Award for his work on Avatar.
The Meg is in cinemas from 10 August. Get all the latest sci-fi news with every issue of SciFiNow.