English filmmaker Ben Wheatley has had a terrifically eclectic and genre-hopping career. In fact, just this week, as his most lush and lavish picture, “Rebecca” premieres on Netflix, we covered the versatile director’s career in an Essentials Retrospective. Well, the timing is good because Wheatley’s got another project in the works, albeit one that has much of his indie/cinephile following scratching their heads: directing “The Meg 2,” a big-budget sequel to the shark thriller “The Meg” for Warner Bros.
“The Meg” was released in 2018 with Jon Turteltaub at the helm. Starring Jason Statham, the film centered on a group of scientists exploring the Marianas Trench, who encounters the largest marine predator that has ever existed – the Megalodon shark. The film grossed $530.2 million worldwide off a budget that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $130–178 million.
That’s more than enough for Warner Bros., apparently. Somewhat surprisingly, most of the same creative talent remains for “The Meg 2,” including the star Jason Statham who is said to be creatively involved. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Belle Avery are back as producers. Screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber are working off an initial draft by Dean Georgaris (all three shared credit on the initial film). “The Meg” earned a Golden Raspberry Awards nomination for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off, or Sequel that year.
While Wheatley is known for dark, transgressive, and creatively adventurous films like “Killlist,” and “Sightseers,” the filmmaker has been inching his way towards the mainstream for some time now. “Rebecca” for Netflix is his biggest, most expensive production to date and features Hollywood stars like Armie Hammer and Lily James. Mid-budget indies like “High Rise” and “Free Fire” were also loaded with hot talents like Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, and more.
What’s more, Wheatley has already made the jump to big mainstream tentpole filmmaking; he just hasn’t made it yet. Wheatley signed on to director “Tomb Raider 2” with Alicia Vikander last year, but the film hasn’t been made yet. Clearly, Wheatley wants to keep trying out, bigger and better, and seeing if he can bring his subversive, artistic sensibilities to mainstream audiences. [THR]