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Top 10 Shark Movies: The Greatest Shark Movies Of All Time Ranked

Top 10 Shark Movies: The Greatest Shark Movies Of All Time Ranked

Any successful film will always spawn imitators, but few have spawned as many as Jaws. When you're not just one of the most successful films of all time, but also the film that created the modern blockbuster, it's going to happen.

Habiba Ashton
Oct 12, 2021

Table of Contents

Any successful film will always spawn imitators, but few have spawned as many as Jaws. When you're not just one of the most successful films of all time, but also the film that created the modern blockbuster, it's going to happen. Tentacles (killing octopus), Piranha (killer fish), Grizzly (killer bear), Alligator (killer gator), and Orca (killer orca) were among the man-versus-killer-animal films released in the years after Jaws' box office success in 1975. Others were even bolder in their attempt to play Jaws' game, opting for a deadly shark.

Despite the fact that there have been films featuring sharks before Jaws, the shark film as a subgenre starts with Steven Spielberg's masterpiece. The shark movie has had its ups and downs in popularity since then. It's also gone through some strange mutations. At its finest, the subgenre has discovered ways to depart from its source material, and the twentieth century has created some really fascinating and exciting takes on the genre.

Having said that, there's something to be said about a corny shark movie, even if it's just a rip-off of Jaws. So, with the release of 47 Meters Down Uncaged this weekend, we decided to assess the genre. The following list starts in the so-bad-it's-good territory and concludes with some really terrifying encounters with perfect engines, eating machines, and evolution's marvels that swim, eat and produce young sharks.

One stipulation: a picture must have had a theatrical distribution, even if it was just a token special screening. So let's get this party started. Hopefully, you aren't reading this on your phone while relaxing on the beach.

Any successful film will always spawn imitators, but few have spawned as many as Jaws. When you're not just one of the most successful films of all time, but also the film that created the modern blockbuster, it's going to happen. Tentacles (killing octopus), Piranha (killer fish), Grizzly (killer bear), Alligator (killer gator), and Orca (killer orca) were among the man-versus-killer-animal films released in the years after Jaws' box office success in 1975. Others were even bolder in their attempt to play Jaws' game, opting for a deadly shark.

Jaws 2 (1978)

In the tenth spot is Jaws 2, which had a rating of good rating Although it did not perform as well as its predecessor, the portrayal of shark-hunting sheriff Roy Scheider was sufficient to earn this film a spot on the list.

To name Jaws 2 the greatest of the Jaws sequels would be to condemn it with light praise, which would be a mistake. Director Jeannot Szwarc offers a passable rehash of the original Jaws, revealing just how much Steven Spielberg contributed to the original film.

Jeremy Scheider returns as Amity Island's miserable police chief, a guy who is still obliged to deal with Mayor Murray Hamilton, who has managed to retain his position despite leaving the beaches open during the previous shark attack. Scheider infuses the picture with much-needed gravitas, which is shown by a dramatic new development: a great white shark launching an assault on a helicopter. (This program is available on HBO Max.)

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Open Water (2003)

Open Water is a survival horror-thriller film that was released in 2003 in the United States. While on vacation in the Caribbean, an American couple goes scuba diving and ends up stranded miles from shore in shark-infested seas when the crew of their boat forgets about them.

On the Great Barrier Reef, Tom and Eileen Lonergan went scuba diving with the Outer Edge Dive Company in 1998 but were mistakenly left behind when the dive-boat crew failed to take an exact headcount. The film is partly based on their true tale.

Writing/directing Chris Kentis and producing Laura Lau, a husband and wife duo who are both enthusiastic scuba divers, raised the funds for the film on their own dime. It cost $120,000 to produce and was purchased by Lions Gate Entertainment for $2.5 million after showing at the Sundance Film Festival. It was made for $120,000. An additional $8 million was invested by Lions Gate in distribution and marketing efforts. After everything was said and done, the picture ended up grossing $55.5 million globally (with $30 million coming just from North American theaters).

In advance of shooting, the Lonergans' adventure was re-created for an episode of ABC's 20/20, and the piece was re-aired after the release of Open Water. NBC aired excerpts from the film in "Troubled Waters," a Dateline episode broadcast on July 7, 2008, in which Matt Lauer interviewed two professional divers, Richard Neely and Ally Dalton, who were left adrift on the Great Barrier Reef by a dive boat on May 21, 2008.

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12 Days Of Terror (2004)

This film that served as inspiration for Jaws, it is made even more frightening by the fact that it is based on a real story: the shark attacks in New Jersey in 1916. Yikes.

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47 Meters Down Uncaged (2019)

47 Meters Down: Uncaged is a standalone sequel to 47 Meters Down, directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Roberts and Ernest Riera in 2019. (2017,

None of the actors from the previous film appear in this one. Sophie Nélisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju, Sistine Stallone, Davi Santos, Khylin Rhambo, Brec Bassinger, Nia Long, and John Corbett make up the new cast. The story revolves around a group of ladies who scuba dive into a submerged Mayan city only to be trapped by sharks swimming in it.

Entertainment Studios released 47 Meters Down: Uncaged in the United States on August 16. Critics gave it mixed reviews, praising it for its performances and tension but criticizing it for its poor CGI and lack of scares. The film earned $46.1 million against a $12 million budget, and the two films had a total global gross of more than $100 million.

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The Reef (2010)

The Reef (2010), an Australian horror film based on a real tale, wins the bronze medal with a third-place result in the competition. After their ship goes bottom up off the coast of Indonesia, a party of pals makes their way to an island off the coast of Indonesia. All the while, they are being followed by a very hungry great white shark, who they are completely unaware of. 

Not all low-budget shark films must rely on cheesy computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create an impact. During the filming of The Reef, Australian director Andrew Traucki drops a group of tourists off at sea on their way to Indonesia, then observes what happens when their boat capsizes and they must decide whether to stay put and hope for an unlikely rescue in the middle of the ocean or try to swim to an island 12 miles away.

Things are made more complicated by the fact that when they first arrive, they are in shark-infested seas, and one character's comment that "you're more likely to die from a bee sting than you are to be murdered by a shark" doesn't give them much hope. In this visually stunning film, Traucki skillfully mixes images of his actors with actual shark video, and although the seams can't help but emerge every now and again, the growing fear of his cast helps sell the illusion. One of the most powerful aspects of this quick, no-frills thriller is how well it captures the fear of being alone and helpless in the midst of an ocean (much like another film a little higher on the list). (This video is available on Amazon Prime Video.)

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The Meg (2018)

The Meg, a 2018 box office smash that came close to winning a bronze medal for shark cinematography, came up just short.

Although this film had a stellar cast and a fantastic director, it failed to impress the reviewers, who obviously did not perceive it for what it was. No matter how you look at it.

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Uss Indianapolis: Men Of Courage (2016)

The year 2016's kinda-but-not-really-period piece USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage sets the tone for the rest of the top five. In this film, we are introduced to a group of guys who have been trapped on board a ship in shark-infested seas.

Despite receiving a mixed response from reviewers, the Nicolas Cage-starring picture managed to make it into the top five thanks to its realistic computer-generated imagery.

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Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Deep Blue Sea, a 1999 thriller Movie, Despite getting mixed reviews from reviewers, what helped this fishy film win a place on our list was its element of surprise; audiences were delighted by the constant toothy action in what was otherwise a formulaic and one-dimensional genre.

 When it comes to proof of this, look no further than Renny Harlin's 1999 thriller, in which a ragtag group of people stranded in a marine-biology lab are forced to compete with sharks that have been genetically engineered to be smarter than the average man-eater. In the film, Harlin leads a wet all-star cast that includes Stellan Skarsgard and LL Cool J through a series of memorable shark encounters, but it is Samuel L. Jackson's big scene laying out just how much danger they are in and the formidability of their finned opponents that makes the scene stand out so strongly.

If you've seen the scene, you'll understand why the scene is so effective. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and watch it right away. It never quite reaches that level of excitement again, but then again, few movies do. (This Movie is available on Hulu.)

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Jaws (1975)

In order to handle this one, we're going to need a larger boat. Jaws, the 1975 film, is the apex predator of shark flicks, and it takes the top position in this category. This Steven Spielberg-directed film is considered a classic in both the shark and action movie genres, and it paved the path for all of the films listed above. With an 8.3/10 rating, this film stands out from the crowd thanks to its outstanding cast, compelling plot, and the pound-for-pound most frightening shark in cinematic history.

One of the most bizarre Jaws-inspired films comes from the official series, and it's called "Jaws: The Beginning." Jaws: The Vengeance, which was released to bemused audiences in 1987, takes up a few loose ends from the previous films by following Ellen Brody (Lorraine Grady), now the widow of Roy Scheider's police chief, as she encounters a great white shark that seems to be out for revenge on her family.

Following Ellen's youngest son's death on Amity Island, where he had taken up his father's old profession, the angry shark seems to have followed her all the way down to the Bahamas. Is it possible that the shark and she are connected via some sort of psychic connection? Yes, in a strange and absurd way. Hoagie (Michael Caine) is one of Ellen's friends in her battle against the shark, and Mario Van Peebles attempts to speak with a Bahamian accent in order to help her.

All of this culminates in an ending that is so ambiguous and anti-climactic that Universal had to reshoot it before releasing the picture in the United Kingdom. Compared to the previous version, the new one is not much of an upgrade, meaning that it accomplishes nothing to make the film less unintentionally funny. (This movie is available on HBO Max.)

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Bait 3D (2012)

Bait 3D is a 3D horror disaster film directed by Kimble Rendall and based on a script by John Kim and Russell Mulcahy. It was released in 2012 in Australia and Singapore.  Sharni Vinson, Phoebe Tonkin, Xavier Samuel, Julian McMahon, Cariba Heine, Alex Russell, Lincoln Lewis, Alice Parkinson, and Dan Wyllie were among those who appeared.

The story follows a group of individuals who attempt to flee a flooded grocery store after a freak tsunami while being pursued by ravenous great white sharks. In Australia, the film was released on September 20, 2012.

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Habiba Ashton | BCS Growth Fund (Israel) L.P., a private investment fund specializing in investments in technologically focused businesses with high growth potential, employs Habiba as an analyst. Mrs. Ashton served as an analyst and information manager at the Israel International Fund, the first Israeli venture capital fund designed specifically for Japanese corporate investors, prior to joining BCS. Habiba graduated with honors from Israel's College of Management with a B.A. in Business Administration.


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