Professional prehistoric shark-puncher, Jason Statham reveals that the sequel to the aquatic monster movie is set to start filming next January.
THE 2021 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARDS
LOS ANGELES, CA—
Congratulations to the following Story Merchant authors for these awards: is proud to announce the 2021 Independent Press Awards acknowledges nine of our authors, both those represented by Story Merchant or published through our imprint, .
444 Days: Memoirs of a Hostage Wife by Marge German; Winner in the MEMOIR category
The Bronx Stagger by Daniel P. Moskowitz; Winner in the CROSS-GENRE category
The Danger Game by Ian Bull; Distinguished Favorite in the ACTION/ADVENTURE category
The Gift from Fortuny by Terry Stanfill; Distinguished Favorite in the WOMEN’S FICTION category
Grizzly Justice by April Christofferson Distinguished Favorite in the WESTERN FICTION category
Inside the Lie by Gary Wenkle Smith; Distinguished Favorite in the CRIME FICTION category
Irrational Fears by Lee Lindauer; Distinguished Favorite in the THRILLER category
Japanese In-Law: Words and Phrases for Day-to-Day Living by Kenneth Atchity and Keisaku Mitsumatsu; Distinguished Favorite in the REFERENCE category
A Potter's Tale by Dave Davis; Distinguished Favorite in the SCIENCE FICTION category
The recognizes over 200 Book Award Winners and Distinguished Favorites in its annual book competition. The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. Selected award winners and distinguished favorites are based on overall excellence.
In 2021, the INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD had entries worldwide. Participating authors and publishers reside in countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and others. In addition, books submitted included writers located in U.S. cities such as Atlanta to Santa Fe; Chicago to New York; from Boise to Honolulu, and others.
"We congratulate this year's 2021 winners and distinguished favorites in the annual INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD. The quality and quantity of excellent independently published books hit a record. Independents recognized are thriving around the globe. We are so proud to announce these key titles representing global independent publishing." said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.
2021 DISTINGUISHED FAVORITES:
– representing stories to traditional publishing as well as to Film and TV in Hollywood
– Direct-publishing new voices
The Meg 2 is a thing. Three years after the release of the original The Meg, which swallowed up an astonishing $530 million worldwide at the box office, director Ben Wheatley — fresh off his eerie new horror film In The Earth — is deep in pre-production on a sequel to the 2018 thriller that pitted puny humans against a couple of oversized prehistoric sharks.
“I’m storyboarding at the moment on Meg 2,” Wheatley says when we catch up with him for the release of In The Earth. “It’s been going on for four months, five months. It’s my happy place, I love storyboarding. So yeah, I’m cutting storyboards and watching animatics, and slowly constructing the movie. It’s really exciting. It’s just action on a massive, massive scale.”
The first film, based on the popular 1997 novel Meg by Steve Alten, reached the screen in 2018 after more than two decades of development. The property bounced from Disney to New Line Cinema, to Warner Bros., with directors like Jan de Bont (Speed) and Eli Roth (Hostel) attached at various points. Cameras finally rolled in 2016 with Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) directing from a script by Dean Georgaris and Jon and Erich Hoeber.
The latter pair have apparently returned to pen the sequel, which Wheatley says he has had no hand in writing: “No, the script is by the Hoeber brothers that wrote the first script, so it’s kind of a continuation on from that story.”
As for whether the cast members who survived the first film — which included British action star Jason Statham, Chinese actress Li Bingbing and a handful of others — will also encore in the follow-up, Wheatley is somewhat cagier, although he does drop a tantalizing hint about the title menace. “I don’t think I can say at the moment what’s going on, the ins and outs of it,” he intones. “But guaranteed, there will be a Megalodon — maybe more than one.”
While the prospect of even more Megalodons wreaking havoc in the sequel, which is provisionally called The Meg 2: The Trench, is an exciting one, it’s all but guaranteed that Statham, who is said to be “creatively involved” with the project, will be there punching them as well.
Alten’s novel was altered significantly for the screen, becoming less of a grisly horror shocker and more of a Statham action joint. It’s worth noting that Alten’s own sequel to his novel Meg was also called The Trench, although we don’t expect a faithful adaptation this time either.
The first film’s self-awareness and somewhat jokey tone, coupled with Statham’s own dryly humorous charisma, turned The Meg into a relative rarity: a monster movie that was both fun and not afraid to poke fun at itself. That was enough to lure in those massive audiences and set the wheels of a sequel in motion.
Although Wheatley’s last outing was Netflix’s glossy adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca — a bold choice since it was previously filmed by Alfred Hitchcock — he’s perhaps best known for his razor-sharp combinations of horror, crime and satire in films like Kill List, Sightseers and Free Fire. If he manages to retain the tone set by the first Meg while adding his personal touch to the proceedings, this could end up being a sequel with, dare we say it, real teeth.
As for going from the high-end esthetics of Rebecca to the guerilla filmmaking of In The Earth (more on that to come) to the presumably explosive, effects-driven action of The Meg 2, Wheatley puts it simply: “I think that’s always the hope, that they’re different [from each other]. You don’t want to end up making the same thing again and again.”
Don Kaye | @donkaye
Don Kaye is an entertainment journalist by trade and geek by natural design. Born in New York City, currently ensconced in Los Angeles, his earliest childhood memory is…
The wish-fulfillment archetype —the dream become flesh—finds perennially poignant expression in stories based on the Pygmalion myth.
A Cyprian sculptor-priest-king who had no use for his island’s women, Pygmalion dedicated his energies to his art. From a flawless piece of ivory, he carved a maiden, and found her so beautiful that he robed her and adorned her with jewels, calling her Galatea (“sleeping love”). His became obsessed with the statue, praying to Aphrodite to bring him a wife as perfect as his image. Sparked by his earnestness, the goddess visited Pygmalion’s studio and was so pleasantly surprised to find Galatea almost a mirror of herself she brought the statue to life. When Pygmalion returned home, he prostrated himself at the living Galatea’s feet. The two were wed in Aphrodite’s temple, and lived happily ever after under her protection.
Though it was never absent from western literature, this transformation myth resoundingly entered modern consciousness with Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, which enlisted it to explore the complexity of human relationships in a stratified society. My Fair Lady, based on Shaw’s retelling, took the myth to another level of audience awareness.
The obligatory beats of the Pygmalion myth: the protagonist has a dream inspired by encounter with an unformed object (“Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter!”), uses his skills and/or prayers to shape it into a reality; falls in love with the embodiment of his dream, and lives happily ever after, or not.
Essential to the pattern is that the dreamer-protagonist is rewarded for doing something about his dream, for turning it from dream to reality with or without a dea ex machina. Thanks to the infinite creativity of producers, directors, and writers, Pygmalion has generated countless wonderful movie story variations: Inventor Gepetto, in Pinocchio (1940--with numerous remakes), wishes that the wooden puppet he’s created could become the son he never had; a department store window dresser (Robert Walker), in One Touch of Venus (1948, based on the Ogden Nash/S. J. Perelman musical), kisses a statue of Venus (Ava Gardner) into life— trouble begins when she falls in love with him. In 1983’s thenEducating Rita (from Willy Russell’s play), a young hairdresser (Julie Walters), wishing to improve herself by continuing her education, finds a tutor in jaded professor (Michael Caine), who’s reinvigorated by her. In a reverse of the pattern, as quickly as she changes under his tutelage he resents the “educated” Rita and wants her, selfishly, to stay as she was.
Alvin Johnson (Nick Cannon), in 2003’s Love Don’t Cost a Thing, a remake of Can’t Buy Me Love (1987), comes to the rescue of Paris (Christina Milian) when she wrecks her mother’s Cadillac and can’t pay the $1,500 for the repair. Alvin fronts the cash with his savings and, in return, Paris has to pretend to be his girlfriend for two weeks; Alvin becomes “cool” for the first time in his life, but learns that the price of popularity is higher than he bargained for. In She’s All That (1999), the pattern is reversed as Freddie Prinze, Jr., is a high school hotttie who bets a classmate he can turn nerdy Rachel Leigh Cook into a prom queen but, of course, runs into trouble when he falls in love with his creation. In The Princess Diaries (2001), Mia (Anne Hathaway), a gawky Bay Area teen, learns her father was the prince of Genovia; the queen (Julie Andrews) hopes her granddaughter will take her father’s rightful place as heir, and transforms her from a social misfit into a regal lady but discover their growing love for each other is more important than the throne.
Pretty Woman (1990) is my second favorite example of the tirelessness of the Pygmalion myth. Taking the flower-girl motif of My Fair Lady to the extreme, Vivian (Julia Roberts) is a prostitute (albeit idealized) and Edward (Richard Gere) a ruthless businessman with no time for real love. As he opens his credit cards on a Rodeo Drive shopping spree, we experience a telescoped transformation-by-money accompanied with the upbeat music that reminds us that we love this highly escapist part of the Pygmalion story, the actual process of turning ugly duckling into princess swan.
My favorite example is La Femme Nikita (remade as Point of No Return, 1993, with Bridget Fonda), because it shows the versatility of mythic structure, taking Pygmalion to the darkest place imaginable as it fashions of street druggie Nikita (Anne Parillaud), under Bob’s merciless tutelage (Tcheky Karyo), a chameleon-like lethal sophisticate whose heart of gold allows her to escape both her unformed past and her darkly re-formed present.
So popular is the Pygmalion myth with audiences that it crops up in the most unlikely places. In Pao zhi nu peng you (My Dream Girl, 2003), Shanghai slum-dweller Cheung Ling (Vicki Zhao) is thrust into high society when she encounters her long-lost father, who hires Joe Lam to makeover his daughter to fit her new status. In Million-Dollar Baby (2004), the unformed matter (Hilary Swank) reports for duty and demands to be transformed. Instead of falling in love, the boxing instructor (Clint Eastwood) is reborn, reinvigorated, re-inspired, learns to feel again—thereby revealing the underlying emotion that drives the Pygmalion myth for both protagonist and the character he reshapes: rebirth into a more ideal state of being.
First published in Produced By, the official magazine of the Producers Guild of America