The shark wasn’t working.

It was the mid-‘ 00 s, and Jan de Bont–director of such big-screen velocities as Hasten and Twister–was showing off a small sculpture of carcharodon megalodon, the archaic shark that was to be the virtuoso of his next movie, Meg. Based on Steve Alten’s 1997 volume, about a deep-sea diver who encounters a ancient underwater beast, Meg had been the topics of a million-dollar movie-rights transaction before the book was even produced. In the nearly 10 times that followed, the cinema adjustment had worked its path through two studios and various screenplays, including one to be prepared by Alten himself.

Now, with de Bont in charge, there was hope that Meg would lastly be introduced into life. The chairman had even commissioned a maquette of the movie’s massive mortal, referred to in Alten’s book as a “7 0-foot, 70,000 -pound prehistoric cousin of the Great White Shark.” When the conductor demo the mock-up to Alten, nonetheless, the author didn’t see the same big beast he’d described in his notebook. “It looked like a bonefish, ” says Alten now. “It was horrible.”

Ultimately, de Bont departed the movie, leaving Meg dead in the water once again–the latest disappointment in what had become an almost comically over-complicated development process. When the freshly retitled The Meg opens in theaters Friday, it marks the end of a two-decade outing, one that encountered several dead end. Yet throughout it all, Alten never gave up on Meg. The internet simply wouldn’t give him.

Shark Tanks

To its devotees, the appeal of Meg, says Nick Nunziata, comes down to a two-word abstraction: Jurassic Shark.

In the late’ 90 s, Nunziata founded CHUD( Cinematic Happenings Under Development ), one of several movie-obsessive websites launched in the pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook period. Back then, outlets like Ain’t It Cool News, Dark Horizons, and Corona Coming Attractions eagerly reported the latest scuttlebutt on long-rumored movies like James Cameron’s Spider-Man and, most notably, that infamously envisioned 1999 Star Wars prequel: The Balance of the Force( at least, that’s what we thought it was called at the time ). And many of these areas’ content boards were filled with surmise( and sometimes fury) about what movies were coming next.