Jaws Opens In Theaters – 6/20/1975

History |


On June 20, 1975, Steve Spielberg’s masterful film, Jaws, opened in theaters. The film starred Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, and Roy Scheider. The movie was shot in the fictional town of Amity and was based on a best-selling novel by Peter Benchley, about a huge killer Shark. 

The Steven Spielberg-directed classic sent a chill amongst viewers who became afraid to venture into the waters. The film sparked fear about creatures that live in the water and made ocean swimmers and summer beachgoers wary.

The story, from a 1973 novel, revolved around a great white shark that terrorized the occupants of a New England resort town. Jaws became an instant hit and the highest-grossing film until it was outdone by Star Wars, in 1977. Jaws received four Academy Award nominations and managed to win three Oscars: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score. The blockbuster became a breakthrough for the then 27-year old director, Spielberg.

The film had propelled Steven Spielberg to greater heights in Hollywood. However, it did not come easy. Its producers, including David Brown and Richard Zanuck, encountered some delays and technical difficulties. In fact, the crew had dubbed it “Flaws.” The on-location shoot ballooned from 55 days to 159 days, and there were a number of technical difficulties with the mechanical sharks. It is also reported that Spielberg went far over the budget, spending nearly four times the average cost of production for a film at that time.

The filming of the $12 million movie was done on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Back then, Jaws joined the league of other expensive films like Cleopatra, Spartacus, and Lawrence of Arabia, which cost a fortune. Both Brown and Zanuck were later credited for Driving Miss Daisy, Cocoon, and The Verdict. Today, the blockbuster would have cost around $40 million, as per the industry standards.

Jaws also changed the game because it was the first movie to be advertised on television; something Hollywood never did. Universal flocked the networks with $700,000 worth of advertisements, and the rewards were massive. Before Jaws, Hollywood had a culture of rolling out a movie over several months.

The film set a record for its opening: it was booked into almost 500 theaters. The impact of the movie caused it to be celebrated on the cover of Time Magazine. At that time, Jaws was the highest-grossing film, before Star Wars. In just eleven weeks, the movie recorded $438 million and became the first movie to top the $100 million record in box office rentals. It had outdone previous films like The Sound of Music and Gone with the Wind. 

In 1974, Spielberg made his official directorial debut with The Sugarland Express, which was not well received compared to his later work. The self-taught filmmaker grew to become one of the most iconic and influential personalities in the world. After Jaws, Spielberg has been acknowledged for his other works, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan, and ET: the Extra-Terrestrial.

Spielberg joined hands with Jeffrey Katzenberg, in 1994, to form DreamWorks SKG. Major films, like American Beauty, Gladiator, and Shrek have been attributed to the effort of DreamWorks. 

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