Nostalgic News: Jaws turns 40 years old today

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It was on this day (20th June) in 1975, that Steven Spielberg’s classic film – Jaws – swam menacingly into more than 450 theatres across North America.

The film would go on to spend fourteen weeks as the number one film at American box offices; adjusted for inflation, its box office tally stands at over $1 billion for ticket sales in America alone.

Jaws changed everything as far as summer releases go. Adapted from Peter Benchley’s best selling novel about a man-eating shark, the film cemented Spielberg’s now renowned reputation in Hollywood and encouraged the film industry to release films nationwide during the summer period. Thus meaning that it was the first ever film to be deemed a ‘summer blockbuster.’ It was also the highest-grossing film of all time, until Star Wars was released two year later. 

Steven Spielberg with the rubber shark known as Bruce.

Steven Spielberg with the rubber shark known as Bruce.

In an era before CGI, a giant mechanical great white shark – affectionately known to the cast and crew as Bruce – was made with the intention to strike fear into the hearts of cinema-goers. However, the rubber creation never functioned fully to the crew’s wishes, leaving Spielberg to make smart use of John Williams’ now iconic score and employ some point-of-view camera work in order to create the infamous suspense of the film.

Jaws was also the first film to make use of prime-time television advertising, in the hopes of getting people to see the movie during its opening weekend. This clever use of marketing completely changed the way that Hollywood promoted films and kicked off the relentless and increasingly expensive promotional campaigns that studios employ to this day. 

The film also did not use big name stars – a conscious choice by Spielberg, who believed that booking A-listers would detract from the story. Charlton Heston was reportedly interested in the lead role of Chief Martin Brody, but was turned away in favour of the lesser known Roy Scheider. Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss also starred.

Watch the original trailer for the classic film, below.

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Third year Film student, Head of External Relations for The Edge and Vice President of FilmSoc. I love tea and I also love Disney. A lot.

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