Like so many summers before it, summer 2016 is another season of the sequels. With Finding Dory, Star Trek: Beyond, and X-Men: Apocalypse pushing their franchises forward, can a standalone movie like The Shallows compete? In my opinion, the film has the make-up of a potential summer sleeper hit. Blake Lively stars as a surfer whose idyllic beach vacation becomes a fight for her life when a great white shark traps her on a rock barely off the coast of a Mexican beach. The locale is deceptively pristine; the leading lady is on the verge of mega-stardom; and the plot is lean and mean. If audiences respond positively to it, could there be a Shallows sequel?
Columbia Pictures hasn't announced any sequel plans for The Shallows yet, nor has Lively or director Jaume Collet-Serra confirmed that one is in development. But The Shallows makes its debut at the box office on Friday, June 24; and I wouldn't expect that a thriller without a big brand like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pixar, etc. would be tapped for a continuation before it proves its earning power. Fortunately for The Shallows, it's not saddled with the same expectations as a comic book adaptation or a new Disney flick. Box Office Mojo has the budget of The Shallows listed at a very modest $17 million, so it's definitely possible that it could earn back its cost.
If The Shallows does come back for round two, what would that even look like? I won't spoil the ending of the movie here, but I will say this: if Nancy Adams survives her feature-length bout with a great white shark, I'd predict she'd take every precaution necessary to ensure she doesn't find herself in those same circumstances again. There are more dangers to humans in the sea than just sharks, of course. (Though, how could any other conflict really top the species that gets a whole week's worth of programming every year on the Discovery Channel?) Maybe Nancy finds herself in a different kind of aquatic predicament. I could also see a Shallows sequel going the more conceptual route, like 10 Cloverfield Lane. The next film could follow a different protagonist or protagonists discovering the depths of their own survival instincts in another breathtaking setting.
Would Lively even be up for recreating what had to have been a demanding filming process? After all, most of the movie is just Nancy versus nature, and Lively had the fake scars to prove it. In a recent Today Show interview, the actor declared that The Shallows was actually "a fun shoot." She praised the beauty of Lord Howe, a remote Australian island which had never been used as a filming location before, and said that the rest of her work took place in "a giant swimming pool." Sounds fun enough, right?
One shark attack might be enough for some filmgoers, but I wouldn't completely rule out a sequel to The Shallows.
Images: Columbia Pictures; liveforlife22/Tumblr