THE EVOLUTION OF THE
By Lee Parham
To celebrate Shark Week, we take a look back on how the shark film genre has evolved over nearly 50 years of releases.
The film often credited with inventing the summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic Jaws also invented an entirely new genre, the shark movie.
Despite its PG rating, Jaws showed the true potential of the mighty great white shark with thrilling sequences of jaw-dropping attacks set to the backdrop of John William’s iconic haunting theme.
The film’s swimming success propelled 3 sequels, each of which saw lower gross than the last and worse critical reception with each installment. However, the shark genre managed to stay afloat.
The real world element of potential shark attacks has terrified audiences all over the world across generations. Many theaters have done screenings of Jaws in water as a means of enhancing the thrill.
Shark movies have only gotten more outlandish from there. 1999’s Deep Blue Sea features a younger Samuel L. Jackson and company fending off shark attacks inside an underwater research facility.
Animation has gone swimming with the fishes as well. Sharks steal the show in Pixar’s legendary aquatic adventure Finding Nemo with the hilarious catchphrase “fish our friends, not food.”
After the success of Finding Nemo, Dreamworks made a shark film of their own in 2004’s Shark Tale, featuring a Godfather-esc story with mobster sharks, voiced by Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.
Famous for its crazy creature-features, Syfy network released Sharknado in 2013, a film where, literally, a tornado is full of sharks. The movie became a pop culture phenomenon and spawned 5 sequels.
Stranded on a rock 200 meters off the shore, 2016’s The Shallows witnesses Black Lively deliver a career best performance as a surfer trying to survive the clutches of a great white shark.
Trapped in a broken cage on the ocean floor surrounded by sharks while their oxygen supply runs out, 47 Meters Down takes a familiar story but puts its own spin on it with this horror survival film.
Literally the biggest shark film to date, The Meg trades in realism for entertainment with a Kaiju-size ancient shark battling against Jason Statham wielding a harpoon gun.
From summer blockbuster classics to insane oceanic expeditions, the shark film has become a mainstay of Hollywood popcorn entertainment.