Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shark novel that should make it on the silver screen

One source of original material Hollywood often turns to is books. Sometimes it’s short stories that are expanded into full length films such as “The Shawshank Redemption.” Most often they are novels. For an example one doesn’t have to look much further than this Wednesday, when “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is released. That is another reason movie studios often turn to the world of publishing; to acquire works that already have a built-in audience.

The trick is for a studio executive to find something that will translate well into the film medium. A novel that appears on the New York Times Best Seller List is a good place for them to start. Not every novel that has been a best seller becomes a movie. Some should not have been turned into films to begin with; “The Bonfire of the Vanities” would be a perfect example. Then there are some that have not been made into a movie, but should have! A great example of this would be the 1997 Steve Alten novel, “Meg”.

“Meg” is about a carcharodon megalodon impeding on modern times. In simpler terms, it is a prehistoric great white shark that once swam the oceans of our planet. This shark grew in length to as much as 70-feet long, and had teeth as big as one’s fist. To see such a magnificent creature brought to life on the big screen is what summer blockbusters are made of. The back cover quote on the novel from the Los Angeles Times said it all: “Two words: Jurassic Shark”.

It’s been ten years since a movie involving sharks has hit the big screen. In fact, “Deep Blue Sea” was originally green-lighted to compete with “Meg” which was thought to be coming out around the same time. Steve Alten believes a “Meg” movie could be even bigger, “Intellectual Makos cannot compete with a story about the greatest, most frightening predator in history.”

“Meg” also brings something else many studios hope to find: a franchise. Currently there are four “Meg” books in release, with the fourth one, “Meg: Hell’s Aquarium” having been released this past spring. A fifth novel in the series is also planned. Can this become a successful franchise? The author addresses this issue as well, “Absolutely. The books get better as they go on. So it’s not like “Jaws”, which was a brilliant book and movie, followed by non-Benchley sequels that got silly.” It’s a little scary to imagine if J.K. Rowling just wrote the first Harry Potter novel which became the beloved film, and then afterwards, someone else came along to make movie sequels.

While “Deep Blue Sea” did modest business, it was an R-rated film. While these movies would involve this giant shark eating humans, they can easily be made into PG-13 films without losing any of the impact of the novel. Just imagine a surfer surfing directly into the mouth of this monster. The original novel included many exciting sequences involving this massive creature, including a climax that features feeding frenzy never before seen at the cinema.

Another plus for this potential film is that it can be looked upon as a “monster movie.” Except in this case, it is about a monster that once existed. Steve Alten, as Peter Benchley did with his novel “Jaws”, wrote the screenplay along with one of the producers, and proclaims that the movie will be even better than the novel. Many believe the film version of “Jaws” was better than the book too. If the film can attract the right director and cast, it’s hard to imagine it failing at the box office.

Apelles Entertainment recently got involved with bringing this great book to a movie theater near you. Hopefully it will all pan out. Mr. Alten tells how gratifying it would be to finally see his first work at a Hollywood premiere, “Not a week has gone by in 13 years where I did not imagine myself walking down a red carpet with my family and friends. Even more so, I want to see the movie made for my loyal readers.” The author has named characters after many of his fans. Something former Bond girl, Lana Wood took part in the latest novel. Some of these fans may see their namesakes on the big screen.

If Steve Alten’s dream comes true for himself and his fans, movie audiences around the world are in for a great ride in the theater.


Post a Comment

<< Home