WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It was the most terrifying creature ever to have existed on our planet — a 70-foot, 100,000 pound prehistoric Great White Shark. Its jaws could engulf an elephant in two bites and its teeth were seven inches long. To an adult Carcharodon Megalodon, Moby Dick wasn’t a threat, it was dinner.
Published in 1997, MEG, written by Steve Alten, was actually optioned by Hollywood Pictures a year before it became a NY Times and international bestseller. But changes at the studio reverted the rights back to its author, who eventually entrusted producer Belle Avery at Apelles Entertainment to shepherd the franchise. There are four books in the MEG series with a fifth — NIGHTSTALKERS — set to be released in June.
Determined to avoid the development issues that killed the project at both Hollywood Pics and later at New Line Cinema, Avery brought a new script she had written with the author and a 6.5 inch MEG tooth to Wayne Wei at Gravity Pictures in China, where the industry is building 10,000 new theaters over the next few years.
Wei immediately wanted in on the “billion dollar franchise.” Warner Bros. wanted in, too, as did director Eli Roth.
With an official announcement forthcoming, Steve Alten is releasing an all-new expanded edition of MEG. The new novel, published by Viper Press (a division of A&M Publishers), was completely rewritten by Alten and includes a never-before published prequel (MEG Origins) and 17 original graphic illustrations.
For 17 years, the monster shark has been enticing reluctant teen readers to read. MEG is currently utilized by thousands of high school teachers in the United States, at no cost to schools, in collaboration with Alten’s non-profit, the Adopt-An-Author reading program.
This program combines page-turning thrillers with interactive websites and direct contact with the authors, and has been called “the most effective teen reading program in existence today.” See www.AdoptAnAuthor.com for details.
For Steve Alten, the last 20 years have been a rollercoaster ride. Struggling to support his family of five, the author penned MEG from 10 at night until 3 a.m. and on weekends. After selling his car to pay for editing fees, Alten could only wait to see how the book would be received.
The result: a movie option and two-book deal. Since then, the Philadelphia native has published 16 thrillers, including four NY Times bestsellers, four international bestsellers, and a laugh-out-loud comedy that will be released in early 2016 (under the pen name L.A. Knight) called Dog Training the American Male.
He’s also had two movie options canceled and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 47. But the author remains unshakable in his quest to see his work on the big screen.
“With MEG, three times will be the charm. The new paperback is head and shoulders above the original, and Apelles Entertainment has also optioned The LOCH and Sharkman. I don’t count the setbacks, only my blessings,” says Alten.
For more information, visit www.SteveAlten.com.
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