Why JAWS on the beach is the best movie-going experience


I have a confession to make: I’ve enjoyed a single beach day in the past decade. In the summer, when Cape May’s beaches swell to capacity and beachgoers slather themselves in sunblock, hoping for a tan, I’m happily installed in my air-conditioned office above the Fudge Kitchen on the Washington Street Mall, in the company of tea, working on Cape May Magazine.

But there’s one thing able to coax me onto the sand. Every August, an inflatable screen tethered to the sand shows one of my favorite films. I can’t resist the terrifying, wonderful sense of sitting mere feet from the ocean, listening to the ominous slosh of it against the shoreline while the film’s title character terrorizes the seaside town of Amity. Sigh.

Movies on the Beach started a few years ago, and Jaws, Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster, is the only title on the schedule every year–a testament to its popularity. You can’t see the sand for the movie-goers. Some order pizza before the sun sets, and some–like my organized co-workers!–pack totes with snacks and juice boxes. (I’m lucky to remember a towel.) If you thought cheering the Resistance in a sold-out theater was great, it’s nothing compared with an entire beach shouting Jaws’ iconic lines (“Hooper drives the boat, chief.”) or celebrating the explosive climax.

And the best part about Movies on the Beach? It’s free to attend. Bring your own chairs, towels, blankets (it gets cold after sundown, especially if you’re sunburned), and snacks to Stockton Beach, right by Convention Hall. Activities start at eight, so plan to get there at least a half hour early to find a good place in the sand. You won’t have trouble hearing, but if you’re sitting on a towel, you might want to sit closer–it’s hard to see over people in the taller beach chairs. In the event of poor weather, you can catch the movie inside Convention Hall.

Here’s this summer’s schedule:

July 7 – Surf’s Up
A behind-the-scenes look at the annual Penguin World Surfing Championship, and its newest participant, up-and-comer Cody Maverick. Rated PG

July 14 – The Lego Movie
An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied ‘Special’, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis. Rated PG

July 21 – Tomorrowland
Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory. Rated PG

July 28 – Finding Nemo
After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home. Rated PG

August 4 – Toy Story
A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy’s room. Rated PG

August 11 – Jaws
When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. Rated PG

August 18 – Free Willy
When a boy learns that a beloved killer whale is to be killed by the aquarium owners, the boy risks everything to free the whale. Rated PG

August 25 –  Minions
Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world. Rated PG.

Movies on the Beach is every Thursday from July 7-August 25. Children’s activities at 8pm; the featured movie begins at 8:30pm. In the event of rain, the movie will be shown in Convention Hall. This event is co-sponsored by the City of Cape May and the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May. For more information, call 609-884-9565.