Shark Week may be winding down, but the Meg is only just getting started. Meg 2: The Trench lands in theaters on August 4, where Jason Statham will reprise his role as the daring rescue diver Jonas Taylor for another terrifying run-in with everyone's favorite prehistoric giant shark.
Based on Steve Alten's 1997 book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, The Meg was released in 2018 and went on to earn more than $530 million at the box office. Warner Bros. saw that audiences were still hungry for more and announced a sequel later that same year. And if fans eat up Meg 2 the same way, we could be seeing the next blockbuster sci-fi/horror franchise in the making.
Before you head to see your old chum Meg, we thought it'd be a great time to round up the best shark movies to whet your palette before watching Statham go round two with the world's largest predator. But while these movies show the terrifying destruction sharks can cause, it'd be irresponsible of me not to point out that attacks in real life are exceedingly rare (in fact, cows and bees kill more people every year than sharks do). Despite their fearsome reputation, sharks aren't the bloodthirsty stalkers of humans that TV and films make them out to be.
So with that disclaimer, let's dive right in. Here are the best shark movies to watch before seeing Meg 2, all of which you can find across the best streaming services.
Let's get the obvious pick out of the way first: Jaws, the OG shark movie. Steven Spielberg's terrifying thriller tapped into our collective subconscious in a way that few movies have since, inspiring a wave of sequels, copy cats and terror that continues to grip beachgoers to this day.
Based on Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel of the same name, the story follows police chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider, as he tracks down the great white behind a rash of attacks that have shaken the townsfolk of Amity Island. Punctuating the hunt is John Williams' Oscar-winning score, which has gone down as one of the most iconic in cinema history.
Watch it now on Peacock
Open Water (2004)
Unlike the other movies on this list, Open Water is inspired by a true story. In 1998, two American divers, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, were accidentally left stranded in the Great Barrier Reef after a dive-boat crew failed to take a proper headcount before heading for shore. The couple was never found, with both presumed to have drowned.
In Open Water, this already terrifying scenario turns into something even more bone-chilling. With their marriage on the rocks, Daniel Kintner (Daniel Travis) and Susan Watkins (Blanchard Ryan) take a scuba-diving vacation in hopes of rekindling the spark. During a dive, they split up from their group to explore, only to surface and see the dive boat is long gone. As the true extent of their plight becomes clear and they begin to panic, they notice another problem: a group of hungry sharks circling below the surface.
You can probably already guess where this is going. A race for survival, a desperate search for shelter and rescue, a feeding frenzy — you know the drill.
Watch it now on Prime Video
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Decades before Samuel L. Jackson was Nick Fury, he was giving a rousing speech during his iconic scene in Deep Blue Sea. Explaining why it's iconic would spoil the reveal, so you'll just have to watch this one to understand why the Secret Invasion star still brings up this film during interviews.
In Deep Blue Sea, a remote underwater research facility has been running experiments on sharks to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Their tests end up creating bloodthirsty, genetically engineered super-sharks. When these sharks escape and begin to terrorize the scientists and surrounding waters, the resulting rampage causes the facility to begin to flood.
As their supply of oxygen slowly ticks away, it becomes a race to escape to the surface. That is, if they can escape the mutant sharks hunting them down one by one.
Watch it now on Max
The Shallows (2016)
The Shallows pivots from the gory, fast-paced action we've seen in the movies listed so far, instead zeroing in on one woman and her harrowing fight to survive against impossible odds.
Blake Lively stars as Nancy Adams, a medical student who's struggling with an identity crisis after her mother's passing. She travels to a secluded beach in Mexico, the same one her mother visited while she was pregnant with her, for a bit of self-reflection and surfing. When she's about to pack it in for the day, she stumbles upon the corpse of a whale that a shark has clearly been snacking on — and the 23-foot predator soon sets its sights on her.
Bitten and bleeding, she's forced to use her wits and every last ounce of her strength to fend the shark off and figure out a way to get back to shore. Lively's performance really sells the whole thing, making you wince with every bite, scratch and hit that Nancy takes.
Look, I know these movies are ridiculous, but I'd be remiss if I didn't include at least one Sharknado on this list.
You can probably already guess the premise based on the name, but just to recap: Against all logic and the laws of nature, a freak hurricane scoops up thousands of sharks from the ocean as it barrels toward Los Angeles. Sharks rain down from the sky as the storm floods the city with shark-infested seawater, and chaos ensues.
While the original Sharknado leans less into comedy than the five (!) sequels that came after it, it's no less a riot. Sharks rip the roof off of cars and devour the people inside. One character hops into the mouth of a shark with a chainsaw. Another character has to fight off a shark that's latched onto a helicopter. It definitely makes for a great palette cleanser after the tension and horror of the other movies on this list.
Watch it now on Shudder
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Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.
Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats. She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.
Decades before Samuel L. Jackson was Nick FuryDeep Blue Sea - 1999
Ironman - 2008 (Nick Fury's first appearance)
So 9 years equals "decades" now? :p