(Clockwise from bottom left): "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," "The Suicide Squad" (2021), "Jaws 2," "Jaws," and "Finding Nemo"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film The best shark movies: ‘Jaws’, ‘Open Water’ and more

The best shark movies: ‘Jaws’, ‘Open Water’ and more

(Clockwise from bottom left): "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," "The Suicide Squad" (2021), "Jaws 2," "Jaws," and "Finding Nemo"

There are few human obsessions that match our all-consuming fascination with sharks. They’re one of the rare animals with a national commemorative anniversary — or “holiday” depending on how invested you are in Shark Week — and their near-mythical status in the animal kingdom provided endless fodder for the film.

The structure of the boneless cartilage of sharks places them in the “elasmobranch” fish classification, grouping them with rays, sawfishes, and skates. While it’s common knowledge that sharks aren’t as interested in feasting on human flesh as sci-fi, adventure, and horror movies portray them, most people would rather not take the risk of getting close enough to confirm. With films dating back to Jerry Hopper’s 1956 “The Sharkfighters” (and possibly earlier), filmmakers have been making shark movies for nearly seven decades and will likely continue that track record as long as there are sharks. (Editor’s note: The sharks will definitely outlive the filmmakers.)

The discovery helped advance the cultural phenomenon with the debut of Shark Week in 1988, making it one of the longest running TV programming events. Featuring stories from survivors of the attack, the show highlights times when surfing, scuba diving, and other deep-sea pursuits went awry. While most shark movies capture the haunting killer instinct of the species, other animated films add personality and a sense of lightheartedness to their characters. DreamWorks and Disney reinvented the diet of great whites, who live respectfully among other sea creatures. With “Meg 2: The Trench” set to hit theaters next month, starring Jason Stathamis one of the most anticipated shark movies in recent memory.

Read on for a list of the top shark movies with the biggest cult followings in chronological order.

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