New Line Reels in Shark Tale

New Line Cinema has temporarily shelved Meg, its big-budget adaptation of Steve Alten’s 1998 novel about a prehistoric shark, or Megalodon, that wreaks havoc in modern times. According to Daily Variety, the film’s proposed $75 million budget swelled to around $150 million and the studio wants time to find a way to lower costs. The computer animation and effects work alone is estimated to cost between $40 million and $70 million.

In the book, paleontologist Jonas Taylor is helping a friend recover scientific equipment in the great ocean trench when he discovers a pair of megalodons surviving in isolation. After savagely destroying her mate, the pregnant and very hungry female gets out of control, attacking sea vessels, helicopters, news crews and tourists.

New Line picked up the rights to the book last year and originally planned to release Meg in 2006. With studio focusing attention on other expensive pics including its adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy book His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, shooting on the shark tale has been pushed back to this spring for a summer 2008 release. Jan de Bont (The Haunting, Twister) is attached to direct.

With this year’s passing of Jaws author Peter Benchley, Alten is carrying the torch for killer shark fiction. He has published three book in the Meg series, and is waiting to release the fourth when the movie finally makes it to the big screen.