‘The Meg’ Sequel Dives Into Production

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The sequel to Jason Statham-fronted shark thriller “The Meg” has begun shooting in the U.K., Variety can confirm.

Production on “Meg 2: The Trench” has kicked off with a splash at Warner Bros.-owned Leavesden Studios outside London, where the Harry Potter and Batman franchises were also shot.

The film, about a murderous 80-foot prehistoric shark, is directed by “Rebecca” helmer Ben Wheatley, who takes the reins from Jon Turteltaub. Turteltaub directed the first instalment of the franchise, which took $530 million worldwide.

Statham and Li Bingbing are expected to reprise their roles in the sequel: Statham as U.S. Navy rescue diver Jonas and Li as oceanographer Suyin. (Before becoming an actor Statham was a world-class diver in real life too, competing as a member of Britain’s National Diving Squad and even representing the country at the 1990 Commonwealth Games).

Screenwriters Dean Georgaris, Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber have also returned for the mega-shark’s big screen second outing as have producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Belle Avery and executive producer Catherine Xujun Ying.

Statham will next be seen in “The Expendables 4” and Guy Ritchie’s “Orson Fortune,” in which he plays a private contractor hired to stop a billionaire arms dealer from selling a deadly new weapon that could potentially destroy the world. He is also set to star in “The Bee Keeper,” written by “Salt” scribe Kurt Wimmer.

“The Meg,” in which Statham battled a monstrous prehistoric shark after it emerged from the world’s deepest ocean trench, is based on Steve Alten’s 1997 book “Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror.”