The shark movie has become a staple horror subgenre ever since audiences heard those two notes of John Williams’ daunting Jaws score in 1975.
Forty-plus years later, there have been many additions to the B movie tradition, some good (Deep Blue Sea), some bad (Shark Swarm), and some inexplicable (Sharknado), but in 2018 The Meg proved that they can still be a box office hit.
The Jason Statham-led shark movie – centred on a mammoth, 70-foot sea creature believed to have been extinct for millions of years – made a staggering £415 million at the international box office making it one of Warner Bros’ most profitable original films of the year.
So what makes a shark movie a box office hit? The Meg director Jon Turteltaub gives us the lowdown in his own words… Spoilers ahead.
Know the genre
Jon Turteltaub: Like every movie, you have to first understand the genre and what people expect. Then you focus on a good story with good characters. Sometimes you succeed, and sometimes you don’t. You don’t run away from the cliches, you lean into them. I think audiences expect them and like them.
With a shark movie, you better see that fin, you better see under the water legs dangling – we love all that stuff and we want to see people dying in really cool ways. That’s what you expect and why you’re going to these movies.