It’ll come as no surprise that many of us will lend a thought to sharks every time we step foot in the sea. According to Wikipedia, there are a total of 71 shark attack movies in existence and we’ve worked tirelessly to bring you the best shark movies of all time. It was quite a challenge. Really – out of 71 shark films, we found it a difficult exercise to find any films that were worthy of making the list. (Sharknado and Toxic Shake are just not what we class as true shark films!)
8. USS Indianapolis
“Based on a true story, this is one of the best shark movies made. It is quite surprising that this only grossed $1.6 million dollars at the box office at a cost of over $50 million dollars to make. However, considering this film is based on actual events and appears to be an accurate portrayal, this makes the list of the best shark movies ever made”.
Story: In 1945, the USS Indianapolis is under the command of captain Charles McVay. He’s been tasked for a secret mission to deliver the atomic bomb to be used on Hiroshima. While on the return journey, the crew of the USS Indianapolis are torpedoed by a Japanese submarine causing the USS Indianapolis to sink. The crew are forced to abandon ship, leaving them stranded in the sea and trying to survive in shark infested water. The crew end up being attacked by thousands of tiger sharks and fight to survive for several days until help arrives. Release date: 2016
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane. James Remar and Matt Lanter
Directed by: Mario Van Peebles
Grossed at the box office: $1.6 million
7. The Reef
“Not bad at all for a low budget movie, The Reef is more a survivor’s account than a movie that is hugely focused on sharks. A good storyline – well worth a watch and one of the best shark movies around”.
Story: Luke has his friend Matt accompany him to deliver a yacht to Indonesia for a customer. Matt also brings his girlfriend Susie, his sister Kate and his friend, Warren. The journey that they take requires them to go across a coral reef, leaving them vulnerable to low level waters. The boat capsizes and leaves them without any means to call for help. Luke suggests swimming back to shore and all are in agreement, apart from Warren who believes the water is shark infested. Warren’s left behind whilst Luke and the others begin their epic journey back to shore, hoping to find some help.
Release date: 2010
Starring: Damian Walshe-Howling, Zoe Naylor, Gyton Grantley and Adrienne Pickering
Directed by: Andrew Traucki
Grossed at the box office: $124,000
6. Deep Blue Sea
“As if it’s not bad enough being stuck on a floating laboratory with caged sharks, the scientists decide to give the sharks a bigger brain. It’s an interesting concept for a shark movie, hence why it’s made the list of best shark movies ever made. LL Cool J plays quite a funny role in this too, which adds a bit of character”.
Story: A team of scientists carrying out research on sharks in an underwater lab are working to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Investors of the science lab send Russell Franklin to investigate the facility and to see if the scientists have had a breakthrough. While catching one of the largest sharks in order to take some samples, the shark suddenly bites off the scientist’s arm. Whilst sending for rescue, a large storm occurs. The winch goes wrong, dropping the bitten scientist back in the water, allowing the sharks to use him in his rescue cage as a way to smash through the glass aquarium where they are being housed. Due to the testing and experiments, sharks have become more intelligent and they’re on a mission to hunt down anybody left on board.
Release date: 1999
Starring: Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard, LL Cool J, and Michael Rapaport
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Grossed at the box office: $165 million
5. Open Water
“A low budget, indie release that surprisingly did quite well. Rated one of the best shark movies ever made, partly due to it being based around true events”.
Story: Daniel Kintner and Susan Watkins are a couple who realise they’ve been working too hard of late and so they decide to take a holiday in Mexico. Whilst there they embark on a scuba diving experience. When the boat sets sail, a headcount is taken of all the people on board so that everyone can be accounted for later on. While in the water, Daniel and Susan somehow drift away from the rest of the group who leave without them a few hours later after the headcount is recorded inaccurately. Daniel and Susan are left in open water and it’s not long until they attract some unwelcome visitors.
Release date: 2003
Starring: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis
Directed by: Chris Kentis
Grossed at the box office: $55 million
4. Jaws 2
‘The first sequel to Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’, Chief Brody’s back and so is another great white shark that’s causing havoc on Amity Island. Jaws 2 is widely regarded as the best of the Jaws sequels. One of our best shark movies ever made.’
Story: There’s a new shark on the island, on a mission to cause as much chaos as possible in the open water. Prior to the opening of a new hotel, it kills two divers and soon after goes after a female water skier, killing her and causing the death of the speedboat driver when her attempt to blow up the shark backfires. When Police Chief, Brody discovers the carcass of a killer whale, he suspects a shark is responsible for these events. He speaks with Mayor Vaughn who dismisses his concerns and so Brody makes a call to his old friend, Hooper. Hooper’s away on an expedition, leaving Brody out on his own.
Release date: 1978
Starring: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary and Murray Hamilton
Directed by: Jeannot Szwarc
Grossed at the box office: $209 million
3. 47 Meters Down
“Being put in to a cage and dropped into shark infested waters is the stuff of dreams for some. For others, it’s their idea of their worst nightmare. 47 Meters Down captures both. The initial holiday excitement at trying a new activity quickly wears off when things start to go terribly wrong. Not one to watch if you’ve got yourself booked on a shark cage diving experience. Excellent – one of the best shark movies ever made”.
Story: Two sisters, Lisa and Kate decide to go on holiday to Mexico. On a night out, the both of them meet up with a man who asks them if they’d like to go out on a boat in the morning in order to see some sharks. Initially reluctant, Lisa eventually agrees to it, considering she has just been dumped by her boyfriend who deemed her to be boring and to be lacking any excitement in her life. Once on the boat, Lisa is already nervous as the captain of the boat asks them if they had any previous driving experience. Lisa and Kate say they have. Once they reach the spot where the great white sharks are, Lisa and Kate are lowered into the water. Lisa panics and asks the captain to bring them back up. The captain does so, however, the winch line snaps, sending both sisters plummeting 47 meters down to the bottom of the ocean. Lisa and Kate will need to figure out how to get to the surface without being eaten by sharks.
Release date: 2017
Starring: Claire Holt, Mandy Moore
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Grossed at the box office: $62 million
2. The Shallows
“If there’s one thing we’ve taken away from The Shallows, it’s never to go out surfing on your own. Blake Lively plays a great solo role with the bulk of the film being centred around Blake’s character and a single shark. Blake holds her own without any issue. Definitely one of the best shark movies out there although the plot gets a little too unbelievable towards the end”.
Story: Nancy Adams is a medical student who has recently lost her mother. Nancy decides to visit a secluded beach in Mexico to surf, the same place her mother had visited. Whilst entering the water, Nancy speaks to other surfers catching waves. Nancy, being the last one left in the water, notices a dead whale drifting in. When she approaches it, she’s suddenly knocked off her surfboard and attacked by a shark. Nancy climbs aboard the whale and straps up her injuries. The shark then knocks her off the whale and so Nancy makes a drastic swim for some rocks where she stays and awaits help. The tide is coming in soon and Nancy has to make a plan to escape, all the while being stalked by the shark.
Release date: 2016
Starring: Blake Lively
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Grossed at the box office: $119 million
“When we think of shark movies – one movie springs to mind….Jaws. It’s that one movie that crosses the minds of many when they’re off for a dip in the sea. Steven Spielberg really did capture our imaginations with this movie, which resulted in an overwhelming fear of the open water and mass sea avoidance for many. Over the years, Jaws has come to look like a giant, rubber fish but, amazingly enough, it still holds the title for the best shark movie ever made. There have been talks of remake or sequel…but these are only whispers ”.
Story: On the beaches of Amity Island, a group of youngsters enjoy a beach party. Just before dark, a young girl goes for a swim when all of a sudden she’s pulled under the water and attacked. What’s left of her washes up on the shore the next day. Chief Martin Brody, Head of Police, finds out from medical examiners that the likely cause of death was a shark attack. Brody decides to close the beaches but his decision is overturned by Mayor Vaughn who wishes to keep the beaches open for business. Soon after, another attack occurs and so Brody puts a bounty on the head of the responsible shark. Professional shark hunter, Quint, offers his services for $10,000. Meanwhile, Brody consults with oceanographer, Matt Hooper who informs him that the attack on the victim was caused by an unusually big shark. Hooper informs chief Brody that the shark is much larger than those that usually swim in these waters. Quint, Brody and Hooper set sail to hunt the shark down.
Release date: 1975
Starring: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw and Lorraine Hamilton
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Grossed at the box office: $470 million