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Diving Into the Deep Data of Deep Blue Sea

May 9, 2017

I love Deep Blue Sea. It is a brilliantly dumb film that never gets old and always gets better. I was working in a movie theater when it was released in 1999 and I loved sitting in the theater listening to the audience go crazy. In all my years working at a theater no film came close to getting the reaction that Deep Blue Sea did. I’ve been writing, podcasting and talking about it for years and I haven’t been able to shake one scene in particular. Stellan Skarsgard’s (AKA Jim) incredibly long death scene is insane because it is a pure nightmare creation that is equal parts terrifying, inventive and funny.

This is getting ridiculous.

This is how it goes down. A genetically modified super shark bites Stellan Skarsgard’s arm off while the shark is being tested on. Stellan is taken up a freight elevator to a rescue helicopter. During the rescue, Stellan is strapped to a gurney and given an oxygen mask. As he is being lifted to the helicopter, a shark grabs hold of the gurney and Stellan goes on a long journey underwater that ends with him being used as a battering ram. It is a gnarly death that has somehow been overshadowed by the glorious demise of Sam Jackson.


The following post breaks down the amount of traveling poor Stellan had to endure.

Sidenote: I’ve tried my best to recreate a fictitious moment in an insane film about genetically engineered sharks herding humans to their death. The numbers are researched but I just didn’t have enough data to be 100% correct. There is some guess-work at play, but I believe they paint a believable picture of what happened to Stellan Skarsgard.

Let’s start off with the journey to the freight elevator. I’m guessing the trip was about 40 feet after he got his arm ripped off.

I don’t see an elevator anywhere close…

Once they got on the elevator the trip took 30 seconds. According to Stanley Elevators, a stock freight elevator moves at an average speed of 200 feet per minute. The elevator covered 100 feet in its 30 second journey. Next, Stellan had to be lifted onto a helicopter. The problem is he didn’t make it very far, therefore I’m guessing he covered approximately 50 feet. This is where things get interesting because the poor guy is pulled underwater with an oxygen tank strapped to his mouth.

I’m not a genetically engineered shark with a lust for blood and thus, I cannot track the exact movements underwater. I’d assume the shark was all business and put its energy into building towards battering ram speed. By using my shark brain (via a hat that looks like a shark fin) I’m guessing the shark circled the interior of the Aquatica figuring how to best hit the massive glass wall.

I really hope these humans don’t see me until it’s too late.


During a nice moment of expositional dialogue (thank you random scientist!) we learned there are a half mile of catwalks on the surface of the structure. After examining the structure I broke down the numbers and figured out the outside fenced dimensions to be 590′ x 295′ (give or take 15 feet or so). You’d think the perimeter would be a half-mile around but there several catwalks that travel through the perimeter, wrap around the structure in the middle and go outside the perimeter. The math looks like this.

Perimeter (1770′) + 2 catwalks (295′) + several additional catwalks (575′) = 2,640 feet.

Imagine the shark swimming three loops around the perimeter to gather speed.

The shark swam through the middle then circled the Aquatica and its prey until it got comfortable enough to send Skarsgard into oblivion. The total estimated distance is 1.09 miles and total time spent traveling untethered from the helicopter is 110 seconds. The shark swam at an average of 35.6 MPH which lead me to believe the shark started slow then built up to a much faster speed to accrue the 35.6 MPH average. The fastest shark on the planet can swim top speeds of 40 – 55 MPH, therefore I’m guessing the shark swam slower laps until it got everything just right and exploded to 60 MPH (this shark is really really ridiculously fast).

A big thanks to M.A. Designs for bringing the circling to life.

I love that this scene happened. It is wildly inventive and devious in its quest to kill somebody. My calculations may be slightly off but I believe the total estimated distance covered by Skargard is 5,959 feet or 1.12 miles. That is impressive!

In case you are still skeptical, I’ve come up with two other underwater options that are much less cool and make the shark look silly.

  1. The shark accidentally drops the gurney and Stellan falls to the bottom of the Aquatica. The shark swims down to the bottom and picks up the gurney (which takes a while because it is cumbersome). Then, the sharks swims to the far side of the fencing (hoping the other sharks didn’t see), and turns around towards the large glass window.
  2. The shark thinks it is going towards the large glass but realizes it is going the wrong way and has to course correct. Then it swims around like it knew what it was doing (so it doesn’t look dumb) and ends up covering over a mile in an effort to not look silly.

I’m hoping this data answers some questions you never knew you had but always felt like you should know. I realize this post won’t change the world but hopefully it put a smile on your face and solidified your love of Deep Blue Sea!

Check out the Deep Blue Sea podcast we recorded to celebrate its 20th anniversary. It is loaded with lots of weird DBS theories.

Make sure you check out more posts that feature mundane data!

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  27. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
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50 Comments leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    May 9, 2017 6:59 am

    Seems legit.

    • May 9, 2017 7:06 am

      Freight elevator data doesn’t lie!

      • John Leavengood permalink
        May 9, 2017 8:04 pm

        Freight elevator data would have too much to lose if it ever lied. Look at movies like Total Recall (and the arm-severing scene) or Big Trouble in Little China (you know the scene).

  2. mmarnall permalink*
    May 16, 2017 9:45 am

    Awesome Graphics!


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