The Meg has officially crossed the $300 million mark at the international box office, definitively proving once and for all that the formula of Jason Statham plus a dinosaur shark equals money. Director Jon Turteltaub‘s film ruled the domestic box office when it opened—before it was de-throned by fellow Warner Bros. project Crazy Rich Asians—but has since settled in as a smash hit in China, where it has earned $117.2 million since its debut.
The Meg‘s worldwide success doubles as an interesting what-could-have-been story. By all accounts, both the film’s star and director originally envisioned The Meg as a much bloodier, much darker R-rated film before settling on a slightly tamer end result. When Collider spoke to Statham, the action star admitted he thought he was signing up for an all-out bloodbath:
I’m just saying it was radically different. I guess in some ways your imagination and your own perception of what it’s going to be is its worst enemy. Just because you should always try and not narrow that down and imagine what you want it to be and just go for the ride. John’s interpretation of this is a fun end of summer [movie]. It’s full of humor. It’s a little bit more directed to a different taste of what my own is in terms of I like more gory adult stuff. I’m a lot older but I can’t speak for what this film could possibly speak to a younger audience.
You almost have to wonder whether an R-rated limb-chomper could have reached the financial heights of this more family-friendly popcorn flick. (Although, as the Deadpool films have taught us, an R-rating isn’t even close to an automatic box office death knell). As things stand now, the world has a perfectly fine, if a bit toothless film in which Jason Statham has personal beef with a massive prehistoric shark, and that, friends, is a good thing.