Ben Wheatley is known as a genre chameleon thanks to a writing and directing career that's ranged from folk horror to black comedy to high-concept dystopia, but one thing he's not known for is working with massive budgets. Now, the indie icon is preparing to change that with a leap into blockbuster territory as he takes a bite out of The Meg 2, and in a new interview, Wheatley made it clear that he's eager to go deep on the action set pieces.
Speaking to Comicbook ahead of the release of his latest film, the acclaimed indie horror In The Earth, Wheatley explained that fans of his work shouldn't necessarily expect him to take too many liberties with The Meg franchise in terms of tone. Though he's definitely proven he can make very, very weird movies over the years, he knows the assignment for this film is action spectacle.
"A lot of it is respecting The Meg, and trying to make sure it's a great Meg film," Wheatley said. "And as you can see from the movies I've made, they're not necessarily, it's not ... when you go and do Doctor Who, I don't completely change it because I wanted to do it. I didn't want to necessarily make it something completely different that nobody recognized, you know? So there's that element of back and forth."
As fans of the first Meg film know, that means going big or going home, and Wheatley sounds eager to dig into the kind of high-budget playground that allows him to create big action sequences, particularly after previous, much lower budget forays into the action genre.
"But it's an opportunity to do action on such an insanely large scale, that it's just unbelievable," he said. "From doing Free Fire, which was, I thought, was all my Christmases came at once in terms of action, this is just unbelievable. And just doing the storyboards for it, just thinking and going, 'Oh,' it's just ... I feel a heavy responsibility for it, to make sure that it kind of delivers on all the, to all the big shark fans out there."
Wheatley has made his reputation as a filmmaker capable of extraordinary invention on a small scale, at least in terms of budget. His films are always ambitious, but most of them tend to cost less than $10 million to make. Compare that to The Meg 2, where a major studio is handing him at least 10 times that much to play in their sandbox, and it'll be very interesting to see what he comes up with.
The Meg 2, featuring Jason Statham as a returning star, does not yet have a firm release date. In The Earth is in theaters this Friday.