New Line was so confident in Meg that the project was fast-tracked with a 2006 summer release date and an estimated $80-million budget, with the project even pitched to foreign distributors at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. Jan De Bont went so far as to hire a production team consisting of producer Colin Wilson, production designer William Sandell, and visual effects supervisor John Nelson. The team went on to develop animatics, storyboards, and even built a 5 foot clay/fiberglass model of the titular sea monster. However, it appeared that New Line had jumped the shark, as Meg's price tag began to grow drastically higher and anticipated to push nearly $200 million. Recent box office disappointments urged concern and the studio ordered a cut to $125 million. Despite cuts being made, New Line still wanted more, leading to the film's producers and creatives jumping ship. New Line's adaptation eventually sunk, and the rights floated back to Alten in 2007, who continued to push for the film to be made. Now, eight years later, the rights have splash landed at Warner Bros and the project is back above water.
Eli Roth was attached as director before he was replaced with Jon Turteltaub. Roth left due to creative differences with the studio, namely that he wanted the film to maintain both its R-rating and a $150 million budget. It's also rumored that Roth, on top of writing and directing, also wanted to play the lead role of Jonas, but the studio believed he didn't have the star power.
MEG is based on the book, MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror, and is the first book that Steve Alten has ever published.
Initially set up at Disney in 1997 when the book was published, a bid which cost the studio nearly a one million. The project eventually went into turnaround after Disney caught cold feet about competing with Warner's 1999 killer shark pic Deep Blue Sea (1999). Alten, frustrated at the lack of movement on the project, wrote his own draft which he showed to Nick Nunziata, who then in turn delivered to Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro took the project to Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin, who brought on Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) director Jan De Bont to helm.
The Meg (2018) marks the return of noted film producer Gerald R. Molen to Hollywood filmmaking.
In its early stages of development, this was being touted as a George Clooney vehicle.