If you love movies, Martha’s Vineyard may seem familiar to you. From romantic comedies to horror movies, Martha’s Vineyard has a long history of being a film setting. While some Martha’s Vineyard movies merely take place on the island, others movies on Martha’s Vineyard have been filmed entirely on the island. The most famous Martha’s Vineyard movies have been from the Jaws franchise. One of the most famous events on the island, Senator Kennedy’s car accident on Chappaquidick, has also been made into a movie. These are our five favourite Martha’s Vineyard movies filmed on the island.
Movies on Martha’s Vineyard: Icons
Movies on Martha’s Vineyard can either be set on the island, or filmed there. We have included Martha’s Vineyard movies based on the island whether or not they were filmed there. Locations revolved mostly around the towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Chilmark.
As the filming location for Jaws, Martha’s Vineyard was catapulted onto the big screen. A real tragic incident made Martha’s Vineyard famous on the international scene, the Kennedy tragedy at Chappaquiddick which has also made it onto the big screen. Most of these movies revolve around the summer season, when Martha’s Vineyard is awash in tourists.
Filming Location For Jaws
One of the most popular movies filmed on Martha’s Vineyard was the 1974 classic, Jaws. Not only did the movie launch Steven Spielberg’s career as a world-renowned director, but it also showed viewers that Martha’s Vineyard was a desirable vacation destination (minus the killer sharks!).
Many Jaws Martha’s Vineyard scenes were filmed on one of the most popular Martha’s Vineyard beaches, Joseph A Sylvia State Beach. The bridge connecting Oak Bluffs and Edgartown is one of the most recognizable sites in the movie, which is why it’s often referred to as Jaws Bridge.
Other popular spots you will recognise in the movie include the little fishing village of Menemsha, and Main Street in Edgartown.
Following the success of the first film, the Jaws franchise was born. The Jaws 2 (1978) film locations were set to be a continuation of Amity Island/Martha’s Vineyard. The movie was actually filmed in Florida though. Jaws 2 was ok but the other Jaws movies jumped the shark.
The film location for Jaws 3D (1983) was in SeaWorld in Florida. In the movie, Chief Brody’s son works at SeaWorld and his younger brother comes to visit him.
Jaws The Revenge (1987) tries to pretend Jaws 3D never happened. The location of Jaws the Revenge is back on Amity Island with a detour to the Bahamas. Chief Brody has gone to chase sharks in the after life, younger son Sean is police deputy and Michael Brody is a marine biologist working in the Bahamas. His child is endangered by a shark but Grandma Brody comes to the rescue in the Bahamas.
Jaws is available to rent or to buy on Amazon. The Edgartown Cinema also has regular showings of Jaws.
In 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy was involved in a serious car accident in Chappaquiddick that resulted in the death of a campaign staffer, Mary Jo Kopechne. This story is retold in the 2018 movie, Chappaquiddick.
Although most of the scenes were filmed on the mainland, parts of the movie were filmed on Chappaquiddick island and the Chappy ferry. Chappaquiddick documentary and a documentary on the The Death of JFK.
Chappaquiddick is available to rent or to buy on Amazon. Chappaquiddick is also on Netflix. In Europe, the movie was called The Senator.
Movies on Martha’s Vineyard: Romance
Martha’s Vineyard is quintessential romance – sand dunes, blue sky and bluer ocean. It’s not a surprise that many people choose to get married in Martha’s Vineyard or for a couple’s getaway. So, of course, Martha’s Vineyard movies fall into the romantic genre.
Sabrina Movie 1995
The 1995 remake of the classic 1954 film Sabrina was also filmed in different locations around Martha’s Vineyard, specifically Menemsha and Vineyard Haven. The famous cottage is located in Menemsha and once belonged to singer Billy Joel. You can see bits of main street on Vineyard Haven when Sabrina and Linus go cycling around the Vineyard.
Some anomalies? The halfway house Linus donated that supposedly was at the end of Vineyard Haven? That real estate is way too expensive. And the lighthouse that they can see from the Menemsha Cottage? That’s Edgartown Lighthouse, miles away on the other side of the island. The scenes with the Vineyard are sadly too short.
How can you remake anything that stars Audrey Hepburn in the original? It’s less twee than the original. This Sabrina movie works because the lead actors are great – Harrison Ford (still maintaining his Han Solo hotness) and Julia Ormond.
Jumping The Broom
With stunning coastal views, Martha’s Vineyard is the ideal destination for a wedding. The 2011 comedy, Jumping the Broom is a hilarious film that shows the crazy antics surrounding a Martha’s Vineyard wedding. It’s actually one of my favourite wedding rom coms and don’t know why its not more popular.
There’s rich girl Sabrina marrying investment banker with working class roots, Jason, at her parent’s enormous family estate in Chilmark. Jason’s mother is widowed and none too happy at losing her son. Feelings are felt, interfering family members are put in their place, and love wins in the end.
Most of the action takes place around the Chilmark estate and the scenery is absolutely beautiful. During the movie we find out that Sabrina’s family is down to their last Chilmark estate, but don’t you worry. That property looks like it is worth at least $15 million.
An anomaly? Sabrina and Jason’s cute meet. She knocks him down with her convertible. Turns out he’s a single, hot African-American Goldman banker with integrity. Statistically very unlikely. And also, the Chilmark mansion was actually in Nova Scotia.
Jumping the Broom is available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime. It’s also available to watch on Netflix.
The Inkwell (1994)
The Inkwell is a coming-of-age story about a quirky New York teenager who comes to Martha’s Vineyard for the Fourth of July. He’s fairly innocent and sheltered unlike the cousin the same age that he visits.
Once again, like Jumping The Broom, class differences among African Americans are explored. The vacation involves two sisters, their families and their mother. One husband is a Black Republican and the other is a former Black Panther. Subtle class differences involve questions like whether one can play tennis or not.
It’s cool seeing an older-looking Oak Bluffs with the giant American cars on the street. That kids fave, The Arcade, also merits a scene in the movie. Lots of the movie though was filmed with North Carolina standing in for Martha’s Vineyard.
An anomoly? The teenage boy in the movie has the hots for two women – one girl is an age appropriate teenager and the other woman is married and older (but still hot). He ends up loses his virginity to the married woman which would be considered predatory behaviour nowadays.
The Inkwell is available on Amazon to purchase.
More Movies on Martha’s Vineyard
There’s been a few horror movies on Martha’s Vineyard. The location is attractive and off-season there is very few people on the island. You can rent a house for free and do your independent film on a budget.
I have nothing against independent films. Some of my favourite films are indies. But these two are budget and terrible. And, not surprisingly, free on Amazon Prime.
The Eve (2015) is a horror-thriller film about a group of four friends who travel to Martha’s Vineyard to ring in the new year. Soon they start dropping like flies. Is the killer among them or is there an unknown menace tracking them in their remote cabin? Spoiler: Extra actors cost money.
In the 2017 independent horror film, Off Season, a rich woman flees a financial mess created by her husband and rents a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard. Are there dark and murderous locals that reside on the island during the winter? The dialogue, acting and film quality are terrible. I kept wondering if I was inadvertently going to find myself watching a porn film the quality was so bad.
There are some movies that pretend to be set on Martha’s Vineyard but are filmed elsewhere like, ahem, Jaws 2.
The Ghost/The Ghostwriter (2010) is a political thriller where the main character is supposed to reside on Martha’s Vineyard, at least according to the book on which it is based. The film was shot mostly in Germany. It doesn’t help that the director, Roman Polanski, couldn’t return to the USA without facing rape charges.
Losing Chase (1996) is a romantic film which was the directorial debut of Kevin Bacon. The heroine (Helen Mirren) has had a nervous breakdown because of the stress of being upper middle-class. Definitely rich, white people problems.
Anyway, her loving husband hires a nurse to help her recover and romantic issues ensue. Helen Mirren won a Globen Globe for this film. The movie is supposed to be set on Martha’s Vineyard but large parts of it were filmed in upstate New York.
Over the past 50 years, Martha’s Vineyard has become a destination not just for vacation-goers, but also for movie lovers. Jaws may be the biggest blockbuster hit, but there are plenty of other movies that were filmed on location or set on the island.
So, grab your bucket of popcorn and make sure to get your fix with these fascinating and entertaining Martha’s Vineyard movies
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