Owen Park Beach was transformed into the Island’s first “kayak-in” theatre Thursday night for a free outdoor screening of the 1975 classic Jaws. In a rare sight, hundreds of chairs were turned away from the ocean to face the 20-foot screen set up on the beach to show the movie. Behind them, a crowd of kayakers and paddleboarders watched from the waters of Vineyard Haven harbor, some who had paddled all the way from Sengekontacket Pond.

The screening was sponsored by Island Spirit Kayak and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival as part of MVFF’s summer film series. Film festival artistic director Brian Ditchfield said that he and Island Spirit founder Carolyn (Chick) Stapleton, who calls herself a “Jaws freak,” dreamed up the idea to show the movie on the water, but decided to plant the screen in the sand after a few failed attempts.

Many chose the safety of the sand to watch the movie. — Ray Ewing

“We once tried to wade a screen on two paddleboards into Sengekontacket Pond,” Ms. Stapleton said with a laugh.

“It took a couple of years to come to fruition, but seeing all of these people is exciting,” added Mr. Ditchfield.

The night began with a surprise appearance from Jeffrey Kramer, who played Deputy Hendricks in the movie. Mr. Kramer lives in Los Angeles but has family in Vineyard Haven, who he said forced him to come to the showing. He came in character wearing an Amity Island cap, the name for the island in the movie that was a stand-in for Martha’s Vineyard.

“I’m the one who vomits on the beach,” he told the crowd. “None of us swim the same after making this movie.”

A celebrity appearance wasn’t the only surprise in store for attendees. While the first of many shark attacks in the movie played on screen, a black fin appeared in the harbor and began circling kayaks.

Nervous passengers yelled out as the figure swam up to their feet and shook the kayaks. Right when the iconic Jaws theme reached a crescendo, the fin disappeared under a kayak and exploded out of the water, capsizing the kayak and its unsuspecting paddler.

Chick Stapleton, owner of Island Spirit Kayaks, swam the waters with a fin on her back to scare moviegoers. — Ray Ewing

A woman emerged from the water, laughing uncontrollably. It was Ms. Stapleton, wearing a dive suit and oxygen tank with a fin attached to her back.

“I made it out of foam from an old computer box,” she said.

Her victim, Paul Fitzgerald, crawled back up on the kayak with a wide smile on his face.

“That was fun. Now I’m part of the show,” he said.

With the possible shark threat exposed, the audience settled their feet into the sand and water, their faces lit up from the light of the screen. Even 43 years later, the crowd tensed up at the sight of the bloody-toothed shark and clapped at its death by an explosion at the movie’s climax.

Once the movie finished, the crowd slowly shuffled up the Owen Park hill and a group of kayakers with LED lights started paddling back to Sengekontacket. A carry in/carry out policy left the beach nearly spotless, save a few kernels of popcorn.

“This was a huge success,” said Mr. Ditchfield. “We really want to do something like this again.”

More Jaws night photos.