The Deep (1977)

PG | 124 mins | Adventure | 17 June 1977

Director:

Peter Yates

Producer:

Peter Guber

Cinematographer:

Christopher Challis

Editor:

David Berlatsky

Production Designer:

Tony Masters

Production Company:

Casablanca Filmworks
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HISTORY

       An article in the 14 Mar 1977 Box reported Columbia paid $500,000 to buy Peter Benchley’s novel The Deep. According to an article in the 4 Jul 1977 New York, Columbia bought the book before publication and signed Benchley to write the screenplay. After Benchley wrote two drafts, Tracy Keenan Wynn and Tom Mankiewicz were brought in for rewrites. Benchley and Wynn shared screenwriting credit. The article also noted that the movie’s stars Robert Shaw, also a novelist, and Nick Nolte rewrote much of their dialogue. According to a 17 Jun 1977 LAHExam article, Benchley was brought back to write a prologue. An item in the 15 Nov 1976 DV reported Benchley had a cameo role in the prologue, a shipwreck sequence set in 1943. The 17 Jun 1977 LAHEam article noted the prologue was filmed but was cut. The article also cited Benchley’s background as a treasure hunter. Benchley’s work with Teddy Tucker, a treasure seeker from Bermuda, reportedly influenced the character of Romer Treece.
       An item in the 31 Oct 1975 DV reported Peter Guber was leaving his position as world production executive vice president at Columbia Pictures and was entering a three year production deal with the company. A 1 Nov 1976 LAT item reported that Guber’s company, Filmworks, Inc., joined forces with Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records, Inc. Guber became chairman of the board of the new company and president of the motion picture division. Guber brought The Deep with him to the newly formed ... More Less

       An article in the 14 Mar 1977 Box reported Columbia paid $500,000 to buy Peter Benchley’s novel The Deep. According to an article in the 4 Jul 1977 New York, Columbia bought the book before publication and signed Benchley to write the screenplay. After Benchley wrote two drafts, Tracy Keenan Wynn and Tom Mankiewicz were brought in for rewrites. Benchley and Wynn shared screenwriting credit. The article also noted that the movie’s stars Robert Shaw, also a novelist, and Nick Nolte rewrote much of their dialogue. According to a 17 Jun 1977 LAHExam article, Benchley was brought back to write a prologue. An item in the 15 Nov 1976 DV reported Benchley had a cameo role in the prologue, a shipwreck sequence set in 1943. The 17 Jun 1977 LAHEam article noted the prologue was filmed but was cut. The article also cited Benchley’s background as a treasure hunter. Benchley’s work with Teddy Tucker, a treasure seeker from Bermuda, reportedly influenced the character of Romer Treece.
       An item in the 31 Oct 1975 DV reported Peter Guber was leaving his position as world production executive vice president at Columbia Pictures and was entering a three year production deal with the company. A 1 Nov 1976 LAT item reported that Guber’s company, Filmworks, Inc., joined forces with Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records, Inc. Guber became chairman of the board of the new company and president of the motion picture division. Guber brought The Deep with him to the newly formed company. An item in the 21 Mar 1977 Publishers Weekly reported that The Deep was the first film that Guber personally produced. Guber’s ongoing involvement provided continuity for the film which, according to a 1 Jun 1977 Var interview with director Peter Yates, went through what Yates referred to as “three generations” of Columbia’s high-ranking production executives. Peter Guber was the Columbia executive in charge at the start of the project, he was succeeded by Stanley Jaffe, and the film completed production under Daniel Melnick’s oversight.
       The 19 Sep 1976 NYT reported Nick Nolte made his motion picture debut in The Deep. An item in the 20 Oct 1976 Var reported that Anne Jackson joined her husband, Eli Wallach, in the cast. Wallach played the role of Adam Coffin and Jackson was a librarian. Jackson, however, was not in the final cut of the film and received no screen credit.
       According to an interview with Peter Guber in the 14 Mar 1977 Box, the production was budgeted at $8.5 million. Production notes from the AMPAS library and articles in the 14 Mar 1977 Box and the 2 May 1977 Box reported that the stars, director, producer, director of photography, and several crew members learned to dive for the film. In the 2 May 1977 Box article, Yates credits Robert Shaw with suggesting the film would be more realistic if the actors did their own diving. The 14 Mar 1977 Box article reported that Shaw, Nick Nolte, Jacqueline Bisset and Lou Gossett had to learn how to dive, and how to act underwater. Eli Wallach’s scenes were entirely above water. The crew worked with an “underwater team of cinematographic experts” lead by Al Giddings and Stan Waterman. Production notes reported the crew developed new underwater camera, sound and lighting equipment for the film. For example, underwater cameras usually weighed 225 pounds, but Al Giddings created a camera system that weighed only “eight ounces in the water, and allowed reflex viewing, interchangeable lenses and total mobililty.” According to the 14 Mar 1977 Box, Yates utilized a “unique talk-back system” to communicate while filming underwater. Yates had a microphone in his face mask that allowed him to talk to the surface crew. They, in turn, relayed his directions over a speaker system to everyone in and out of the water. According to an article in the 9 Mar 1977 LAT, Yates appreciated this system and is quoted as saying, “It was lovely. No one could answer me back.” According to production notes and the 14 Mar 1977 Box, 40 percent of the film occurs under water, 15 percent takes place on the water’s surface and 45 percent takes place on land or interior sets. In a 1 Jun 1977 Var article, however, Yates stated that the underwater scenes would account for only 30 minutes of the finished movie. Production notes and the 14 Mar 1977 Box article reported the film was shot on four oceans in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and off the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Filming took place at depths ranging from 60 to 100 feet. According to production notes, there were 9,895 dives which amounted to 10,780 hours under water. Filming began in the British Virgin Islands and, according to an article in the 9 Mar 1977 LAT, much of the shoot centered on the wreck of the “Rhone,” a royal mail ship that sank during a hurricane in 1867. Production notes reported that the scene with sharks swarming was filmed at the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. In Bermuda, the film was shot on land, above and beneath the water, and in “the world’s largest underwater set.” According to production notes and the 30 Aug 1976 Box article, the set was 120 feet in diameter, had a depth of 30 feet, held 1 million gallons of sea water, was stocked with fish, and contained a replica of the “Rhone.” The 14 Mar 1977 Box article also reported that the interior of the Rhone was re-created but additional sections were added to create more cinematic tension. Location filming at depths of 80 feet in the British Virgin Islands had limited how long the actors could shoot underwater. The underwater set was advantageous because the depth of only 30 feet allowed for longer shoots and no need for decompression time. According to articles in the 19 Jul 1976 Box and the 2 May 1977 Box, the film production ran smoothly, but cinematographer Al Giddings and four of his crew did take a quick break from filming in the British Virgin Islands when they responded to an emergency call and rescued three men from a sinking Tortola fishing boat.
       According to articles in the 20 Apr 1977 DV, the 9 May 1977 Box, and the 3 Jul 1977 NYT, a smart, multi-media promotional campaign was launched with a budget of approximately $5 million. Columbia Pictures and Bantam Books jointly promoted the film and the paperback version of the book. Included in this promotion was a $200,000 national TV advertising campaign featuring the book and footage from the movie. Upon the film’s 17 Jun 1977 release, Columbia and Bantam would jointly promote Peter Guber’s book, Inside the Deep. According to an item in the 21 Mar 1977 Publishers Weekly, Guber had chronicled his experiences producing the film. The 9 May 1977 Box noted the book included a 48 page photo insert. The 20 Apr 1977 DV article also reported a $650,000 deal with Revlon cosmetics to promote the film. The 3 Jul 1977 NYT article noted that additional promotions included records, department store displays, boat show participation, a Rolex Sub-Mariner watch tie-in, spring break promotions, $1.5 million in newspaper and magazine advertising, and $1.3 million in television commercials. According to an item in the 23 May 1977 Newsweek, Jacqueline Bisset was unhappy that Columbia Pictures used a picture of her wearing a wet T-shirt for advertisements in Playboy and Penthouse, reportedly without her consent. Bisset chose not to sue, but did block Columbia from releasing the wet T-shirt picture as a poster. The 3 Jul 1977 NYT reported that research data revealed the film’s saturation campaign had effectively reached possible movie-goers a minimum of 15 times.
       According to an item in the 21 Jun 1977 HR, the film grossed $8,124,316 in the first three days and was Columbia’s best opening boxoffice gross. An item in the 8 Jul 1977 HR noted the film grossed $28.5 million in the first three weeks, setting another record for Columbia Pictures. According to an item in the 9 Nov 1977 Var , Hong Kong’s opening week figure of $315, 233 set a new record for an international film. A 19 Jan 1978 HR item reported the film also set records for Columbia Pictures in England, Panama, Brazil and El Salvador.
       The Deep received a 1977 Academy Award nomination for Sound – Walter Goss, Dick Alexander, Tom Beckert and Robin Gregory.
       An article in the 5 Sep 1977 Box reported that the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) would air The Making of “The Deep,” a one-hour special hosted by Robert Shaw. According to an article in the 8 Sep 1977 HR, Peter Lake, a production executive on the movie, wanted to film the filming of The Deep and convinced Columbia to subsidize the project with a small budget. The television networks initially were not receptive to the project, citing FCC regulations and declining to provide “free publicity” for the film. The situation changed, however, when the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) announced a Making of “Star Wars” special. Suddenly CBS was interested in the special on The Deep, and Lake had one month to put the show together so that CBS could air The Making of “The Deep” before ABC aired their Star Wars special. According to the 5 Sep 1977 Box article, The Making of “The Deep” aired on 11 Sep 1977. Lake served as writer and executive producer, and Chuck Workman directed. An item in the 6 Feb 1980 LAHExam reported the television premiere of The Deep would be a two part version of the film and would contain 40 minutes of additional footage. Director Peter Yates was not involved with editing the television version; a Columbia Pictures editor added previously unused footage to expand the film to a running time of 2 hours, 44 minutes.

      The end credits include the following written statement: “ The Deep was filmed live on location in four oceans, and we gratefully acknowledge the following contributions: the Government and the people of Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Australia, The Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Society, Peter Island Yacht Club, Southampton Princess Hotel and Van Cleef and Arpels for design of 18th century treasure.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jul 1976.
---
Box Office
30 Aug 1976.
---
Box Office
14 Mar 1977.
---
Box Office
2 May 1977.
---
Box Office
9 May 1977.
---
Box Office
5 Sep 1977.
---
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1975.
---
Daily Variety
15 Nov 1976.
---
Daily Variety
20 Apr 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1977
p. 3, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1978.
---
LAHExam
17 Jun 1977.
---
LAHExam
6 Feb 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Nov 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1977
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jun 1977
p. 1.
New York
4 Jul 1977.
---
New York Times
19 Sep 1976.
---
New York Times
18 Jun 1977.
---
New York Times
3 Jul 1977.
---
Newsweek
23 May 1977.
---
Publishers Weekly
21 Mar 1977.
---
Variety
20 Oct 1976.
---
Variety
1 Jun 1977.
---
Variety
22 Jun 1977
p. 16.
Variety
9 Nov 1977.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Columbia | EMI presentation
The Casablanca Filmworks production
A Peter Yates film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit underwater dir
2d unit underwater dir
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit underwater cine
2d unit underwater cine
Cam op
Underwater 3d cam
Underwater still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Underwater art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Underwater dresser
Const mgr
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Spec sd eff rec
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Sd consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
The Deep logo created by
MAKEUP
Make up
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod exec
Spec consultant
Marine biologist
Marine biologist
Marine environments by
Dive master
Underwater continuity
Continuity
Continuity
Spec asst
Spec asst
Spec asst
Spec asst
Spec asst
Prod secy
Loc accountant
Casting
Casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Deep by Peter Benchley (Garden City, 1976).
SONGS
"Theme from 'The Deep'," written by John Barry and Donna Summer, sung by Donna Summer
"Calypso Disco," written by Alston Becket Cyrus, sung by Beckett, courtesy of Casablanca Records.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 June 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 June 1977
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 June 1977
Copyright Number:
LP47876
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
124
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24836
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During a SCUBA dive in Bermuda, David Sanders and Gail Berke find a sunken ship with possible treasures, including a fork engraved “Goliath,” a silver coin and an ampule of liquid. When they return their equipment, the clerk notices the ampule and the Goliath fork. He tells them the Goliath is a munitions ship and therefore off-limits for divers. Gail researches their coin at the library while David admires a display of treasure discovered off Bermuda by Romer Treece. At dinner, David and Gail are joined by Henri Cloche, a Haitian, who asks about the “bottle.” He pretends to be interested in rare glass, but David denies they found a bottle. The next day, David and Gail go to Treece’s lighthouse and ask him to look at the coin. He informs them it is actually a Spanish medallion of a woman’s face and is engraved with the initials “E.F.” Treece sees the ampule and is surprised they dove at the Goliath. Treece feigns more interest in the medallion and discreetly pockets the ampule. The couple leaves and they are kidnapped by Cloche’s men. Cloche wants the ampule, but they no longer have it. Cloche realizes Treece has it and orders the couple to leave the island. They go back to Treece and demand answers. Treece takes them to meet deckhand Adam Coffin, the sole survivor of the Goliath, who identifies it as an ampule of morphine. Coffin studies a map that Gail drew and realizes a recent storm shifted the ship to a more accessible position. But he warns them the ship ... +


During a SCUBA dive in Bermuda, David Sanders and Gail Berke find a sunken ship with possible treasures, including a fork engraved “Goliath,” a silver coin and an ampule of liquid. When they return their equipment, the clerk notices the ampule and the Goliath fork. He tells them the Goliath is a munitions ship and therefore off-limits for divers. Gail researches their coin at the library while David admires a display of treasure discovered off Bermuda by Romer Treece. At dinner, David and Gail are joined by Henri Cloche, a Haitian, who asks about the “bottle.” He pretends to be interested in rare glass, but David denies they found a bottle. The next day, David and Gail go to Treece’s lighthouse and ask him to look at the coin. He informs them it is actually a Spanish medallion of a woman’s face and is engraved with the initials “E.F.” Treece sees the ampule and is surprised they dove at the Goliath. Treece feigns more interest in the medallion and discreetly pockets the ampule. The couple leaves and they are kidnapped by Cloche’s men. Cloche wants the ampule, but they no longer have it. Cloche realizes Treece has it and orders the couple to leave the island. They go back to Treece and demand answers. Treece takes them to meet deckhand Adam Coffin, the sole survivor of the Goliath, who identifies it as an ampule of morphine. Coffin studies a map that Gail drew and realizes a recent storm shifted the ship to a more accessible position. But he warns them the ship is dangerous, and others have been blown up searching the military ship for munitions and the 98,000 ampules of morphine onboard. Treece knows Cloche wants the ampules to make heroin, and Treece intends to make sure that never happens. Against Gail’s wishes, he talks David into a night dive and they discover thousands of ampules. David also searches for treasure and is nearly killed by a moray eel lurking in a shaft. They plant explosives, but Treece discovers a treasure and decides not to detonate the explosives that night. On the boat, they find Cloche has left a dead cat as a voodoo warning. Treece notices the lights at David’s hotel are out and they race to shore. In her room, Gail is terrorized by Cloche’s voodoo ritual. David reaches the hotel’s cliffside beach and sees Cloche’s men racing down the stairs. He jumps onto the outside elevator and fights off one of Cloche’s men, who falls to his death. Treece brings David and Gail to his lighthouse where Treece’s trusted bodyguard, Kevin, keeps watch outside. Treece studies the treasure they found and explains it is a three key lock that would only have been used by nobles. David wonders what it was doing in the munitions ship’s hold. Treece suggests that two storms, hundreds of years apart, could have crashed two boats on the same reef. Gail wonders how to get the second ship’s treasure and what it will take to get Cloche out of the picture. Treece meets with Cloche, says he has booby-trapped the ship and offers to give Cloche the ampules for $1 million. Cloche agrees and gives him three days. Cloche’s men watch from afar as Treece, David and Gail dive for the ampules, leaving Kevin and Coffin guarding the ship. Inside the wreckage, they slowly send up bags of ampules while searching for the treasure. As their vacuum raises the ampules, it pulls in a grenade and the resulting explosion shifts the wreckage. David is sucked down and, on the reef below them, finds a small gold container. They quickly discover more treasure, including a bell engraved “Grifon.” The wreckage dangerously shifts again, so they surface. They have collected approximately 4,000 ampules. Treece locks the ampules in his lighthouse, rigs them with explosives and leaves Kevin to guard them. They study the mystery of the Grifon, a French tag-along tobacco ship and the sole surviving vessel of a Spanish fleet that supposedly lost all of its treasures when the ships went down in a hurricane off Florida. The Grifon then sailed to Havana for repairs. They contemplate how the Grifon ended up sunk off Bermuda, with jewelry and the three-lock box on board. When Gail cleans the gold container, she finds the initials “E.F.” and discovers it is full of pearls. Gail and David are excited, but Treece warns they must find the treasure’s provenance to authenticate it. Their research reveals the jewelry was not on the sunken fleet’s manifest because it was actually part of a list of jewelry for Elizabeth Farnezi, the Duchess of Palmer. In 1714, she agreed to marry King Phillip if he gave her an extraordinary set of jewelry. They theorize that the King had the jewelry made and the jewels were placed on the Grifon for safety. When the rest of the fleet went down, the Governor of Havana claimed the jewels were also lost. Unfortunately for the greedy governor, when the Grifon sailed again, it was caught in another hurricane and sank. If they can find an item on the Duchess’s list, they will have their provenance. In the local bar, Cloche meets with Coffin to get information about Treece’s dive. Coffin thinks there might be something besides the ampules in the wreck. Cloche wonders why Treece is keeping secrets from Coffin, and offers him ten percent of any treasure found. On their next dive, Treece, David and Gail search for treasure and Gail finds a cross of rubies. On the boat, meanwhile, Coffin searches Gail’s bag and finds their map with the location of the second treasure. Realizing this is the secret they have been keeping, Coffin pockets the map and does nothing when Cloche’s men arrive to toss bloody chum in the water. Sharks swarm in and surround the divers but Treece inverts the vacuum and they rise to the surface in the stream of bubbles. On the boat, Coffin claims he was asleep when it happened, but he sees the ruby cross in Treece’s bag and says he knew there was more than ampules down there. Back at Treece’s, they are frustrated that none of their jewelry is on the list. Coffin drives up to the gate and Kevin lets him in, not realizing that Coffin has one of Cloche’s men hidden in his car. A fight ensues between Kevin and Cloche’s henchman, and Kevin loses. While Treece checks the grounds, David studies the medallion. Now that it has been cleaned, it reveals the woman wears a chain with a dragon pendant. David is excited because he has seen that chain in the wreckage. If they can find the chain and the pendant is on it, they will have their provenance. Treece discovers Kevin’s body and decides to blow the Goliath immediately. David insists he is diving for the pendant first. They agree to go together and the trio heads for the boat. Coffin sneaks to the lighthouse to steal the ampules and is blown up. Back in the water, Treece rigs the explosion and ignites it, giving them three minutes until the Goliath explodes. David finds the necklace, but drops it when Cloche’s men arrive. In the ensuing battle, Cloche’s men are killed. Treece shoves Cloche’s head into the path of a moray eel, but is trapped in the process. David rescues Treece instead of retrieving the necklace. Treece cuts David’s oxygen line to force him to the surface, but Treece stays behind as the wreckage explodes. A moment later, Treece surfaces with the dragon necklace and tosses the treaure toward the happy couple. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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