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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Best Shark Movies of All Time - Based on Rankings From 42 Websites

Scene from the top ranked shark movie, Deep Blue Sea (1999). 
Welcome to our Reel Fives pre-launch movie rankings for the best shark films of all time. Our Reel Fives team found 42 ranked lists of the top shark films published online and ended up with 39 movies that made the list. For each ranked list of greatest movies for the genre, we have taken the top five ranked films. The rankings of top shark films we aggregated are included at the bottom of this post and include the best movies in the genre as ranked by movie experts and polling sites, such as ranker.com.

Sharks scare a good number of people, but in reality, shark attacks are pretty rare—so rare that a person has a 1-in-3,700,000 chance of being attacked by a shark. The film industry plays upon the fear of shark attacks and has created a niche genre of shark films, wherein people stranded in shark-infested waters must fight for survival. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975), ranked second, almost single-handedly conceived this genre. Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Schneider) teams up with fisherman-for-hire Quint (Robert Shaw) and oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to catch a giant great white shark terrorizing a small island-community in New England. Steven Spielberg’s film set a box office record and was the first film to gross over $100 million. One can make an argument for Jaws being the movie that introduced the film industry to the summer blockbuster formula: high budget films with wide audience and commercial appeal accompanied by intense marketing campaigns, bombarding audiences leading up to the theatrical release. Jaws (1975) brought forth the monster horror genre’s elements but applied them in a nuanced way, focusing more on character responses than on the shark in action. And the impeccable score by John Williams (whose resume includes scores for the original Star Wars trilogy, Superman (1978), Jurassic Park (1993), and the first three Harry Potter films) combined with intermingled jump scares perfectly tied together the many tension-building scenes.  These elements are still at the heart of the shark horror genre. 


Opening scene of Jaws (1975), building tension by presenting the shark's point of view instead of showing the shark.

In fact, Jaws (1975) not only conceived the shark horror, but paved the way for other water predator movies shortly after its release, although most were b-movies. In 1978, Piranha was released and did not shy away from making it clear that it was an entry into the genre set by Jaws – even down to its poster. 



Another entry to the water predator b-movies riding on the popularity of Jaws is Orca (1977), where a male killer whale hunts down a boat captain who was responsible for killing his calf. Orca (1977) has since gained, and continues to have, a large cult following.   


The degree of influence that Jaws (1975) [bottom]  had on Orca (1978) [top] is apparent when looking at the final scenes. 
But surprisingly, Jaws (1975) is not the top ranked shark movie. The much more recent Deep Blue Sea (1999) beat it out, albeit only by a 2 percent margin. In Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea (1999), ranked the all-time best shark film based on the aggregation, tables are turned when the sharks at the center of an Alzheimer’s cure research project decide they are done being poked and prodded by scientists. One wonders if the slower movie narrative in Jaws (1975) lowers the appeal to fans of the genre who have by now become accustomed to the campy b-movie antics of most movies in the shark horror genre that followed in the wake of Jaws (1975). Even the Jaws franchise itself delved into this style in the sequels.  Jaw 3-D (1983), the second sequel, relied on the 3-D fad, jump scares, and an over-the-top plot (a giant shark attacking a water park on its opening day).  The campy side of the shark horror genre continues strong with the multitude of movies from The Asylum productions in the last couple of years that include Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009), 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012), and of course Sharknado (2013), which itself spawned four sequels to date.
Scene from Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009).
But the shark genre also includes some family friendly, non-horror entries. Not all films portray sharks as hostile, with some family films having seemingly nonviolent sharks. Finding Nemo (2003), ranked thirteenth (also ranked sixth-best animated film), suggests that sharks do not need to eat fish. While searching for his son, Nemo’s father Marlin (Albert Brooks) and newfound companion Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) encounter a trio of sharks who proclaim they are vegetarian. “Fish are friends, not food,” according to shark Bruce. This helps ease the fear of sharks, since they are typically associated with eating fish and other animals. The mob genre sleeps with the fishes in Shark Tale (2004), ranked tenth. When Shark boss Don Lino’s (Robert De Niro) son is killed, small fish Oscar (Will Smith) falsely takes the credit. The film parallels the mafia hierarchy with that of marine life, and the sharks are close to the top. Both films show a fight for survival in the sea. From Nemo and his father trying to reunite, to Oscar trying to evade capture, shark films invoke the survival instinct. Animation has the power to destigmatize the fear of sharks for younger children and can imagine sea life differently than a non-animated film, which could be why animated sharks are depicted more favorably than their non-animated brethren.

The rankings have a cluster of older and newer, animated and non-animated films. While most shark films center on survival, the plot can still be used interestingly. The sea remains a fascinating place and the film industry is not afraid to play with offbeat plots. The new shark horror film recently released, The Shallows (2016), may have a strong showing in this list in the near future. It goes back into less campy territory and, as of one week after the opening, has received much praise – for a shark horror. 


Top 39 Shark Movies based on 42 published rankings
Percent of online top fives movies appear in shown
1 . Deep Blue Sea (1999): 78.5%
2 . Jaws (1975): 76.1%
3 . Open Water (2003): 66.6%
4 . Jaws 2 (1978): 40.4%
5 . The Reef (2010): 28.5%
6 . Sharknado (2013): 23.8%
7 . Shark Night (2011): 19.0%
8 . Bait (2012): 19.0%
9 . 12 Days of Terror (2004): 16.6%
10 . Shark Tale (2004): 11.9%
11 . Jaws 3-D (1983): 11.9%
12 . Sharktopus (2010): 9.52%
13 . Finding Nemo (2003): 9.52%
14 . Soul Surfer (2011): 7.14%
15 . Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009): 7.14%
16 . Blue Water, White Death (1971): 7.14%
17 . Sand Sharks (2011): 4.76%
18 . Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis (1991): 4.76%
19 . Tintorera: Killer Shark (1977): 4.76%
20 . Deep Blood (1990): 4.76%
21 (tied). Cyclone (1978): 2.38%
21 (tied). The Last Shark (1981): 2.38%
21 (tied). 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012): 2.38%
21 (tied). Shark! (1969): 2.38%
25 (tied). The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005): 2.38%
25 (tied). Sharkwater (2006): 2.38%
25 (tied). Live and Let Die (1973): 2.38%
25 (tied). Cruel Jaws (1995): 2.38%
29 (tied). Jaws: The Revenge (1987): 2.38%
29 (tied). Lake Placid (1999): 2.38%
29 (tied). Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997): 2.38%
32 (tied). The Host (2006): 2.38%
32 (tied). Swamp Shark (2011): 2.38%
32 (tied). Dark Tide (2012): 2.38%
35 (tied). Ghost Shark (2013): 2.38%
35 (tied). Open Water 2: Adrift (2006): 2.38%
35 (tied). Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976): 2.38%
35 (tied). Red Water (2003): 2.38%
39 . The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004): 0%
Shark Movie Ranking Sources
PopMatters List of top 10 (link)
IMDb List of top 64 (link)
Den of Geek List of top 25 (link)
List Challenges List of top 50 (link)
Ranker List of top 43 (link)
Listverse List of top 10 (link)
WatchMojo.com List of top 10 (link)
Yell Magazine List of top 10 (link)
Mother Nature Network List of top 10 (link)
Funk's House of Geekery List of top 8 (link)
The Movie Network List of top 10 (link)
JackThreads List of top 10 (link)
Listal List of top 17 (link)
Top2040 List of top 20 (link)
Top 5 List of top 5 (link)
Truly Disturbing List of top 13 (link)
MoviePilot.com List of top 8 (link)
Hit Fix List of top 10 (link)
Terrific Top 10 List of top 10 (link)
Answers.com List of top 9 (link)
BuzzFeed List of top 8 (link)
PhimToday.Org List of top 10 (link)
Radass List of top 26 (link)
Bite by a Shark List of top 10 (link)
Screen Junkies List of top 6 (link)
Mano Byte List of top 5 (link)
The Nerdy Bomb List of top 5 (link)
Chiller List of top 13 (link)
Outdoors 360 List of top 10 (link)
eTopMost.com List of top 5 (link)
TheVideos List of top 10 (link)
Film School Rejects List of top 6 (link)
Kiff Cape Town List of top 3 (link)
Looper List of top 10 (link)
BlueChat List of top 10 (link)
Culture Brats List of top 13 (link)
Chillopedia List of top 15 (link)
Movie Fan Central List of top 10 (link)
TheCelebrityCafe.com List of top 10 (link)
Wapistan List of top 10 (link)
Red Carpet Refs List of top 10 (link)
OMGMoments List of top 10 (link)

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