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Jaws was key in establishing the benefits of a wide national release backed by heavy television advertising, rather than the traditional progressive release in which a film slowly entered new markets and built support over time. Saturation booking, in which a film opens simultaneously at thousands of cinemas, and massive media buys are now commonplace for the major Hollywood studios. According to Peter Biskind, Jaws "diminish[ed] the importance of print reviews, making it virtually impossible for a film to build slowly, finding its audience by dint of mere quality. ... Moreover, Jaws whet corporate appetites for big profits quickly, which is to say, studios wanted every film to be Jaws." Scholar Thomas Schatz writes that it "recalibrated the profit potential of the Hollywood hit, and redefined its status as a marketable commodity and cultural phenomenon as well. The film brought an emphatic end to Hollywood's five-year recession, while ushering in an era of high-cost, high-tech, high-speed thrillers."
Jaws also played a major part in establishing summer as the prime season for the release of studios' biggest box-office contenders, their intended blockbusters; winter had long been the time when most hoped-for hits were distributed, while summer was largely reserved for dumping films thought likely to be poor performers. Jaws and Star Wars are regarded as marking the beginning of the new U.S. film industry business model dominated by "high-concept" pictures—with premises that can be easily described and marketed—as well as the beginning of the end of the New Hollywood period, which saw auteur films increasingly disregarded in favor of profitable big-budget pictures. The New Hollywood era was defined by the relative autonomy filmmakers were able to attain within the major studio system; in Biskind's description, "Spielberg was the Trojan horse through which the studios began to reassert their power."
The film had broader cultural repercussions, as well. Similar to the way the pivotal scene in 1960's Psycho made showers a new source of anxiety, Jaws led many viewers to fear going into the ocean. Reduced beach attendance in 1975 was attributed to it, as well as an increased number of reported shark sightings. It is still seen as responsible for perpetuating negative stereotypes about sharks and their behavior, and for producing the so-called "Jaws effect", which allegedly inspired "legions of fishermen [who] piled into boats and killed thousands of the ocean predators in shark-fishing tournaments." Benchley stated that he would not have written the original novel had he known what sharks are really like in the wild. Conservation groups have bemoaned the fact that the film has made it considerably harder to convince the public that sharks should be protected.
Jaws set the template for many subsequent horror films, to the extent that the script for Ridley Scott's 1979 science fiction film Alien was pitched to studio executives as "Jaws in space." Many films based on man-eating animals, usually aquatic, were released through the 1970s and 1980s, such as Orca, Grizzly, Alligator, Day of the Animals, and Eaten Alive. Spielberg declared Piranha, directed by Joe Dante and written by John Sayles, "the best of the Jaws ripoffs". Three mockbusters based on Jaws came from Italy: Great White, which inspired a plagiarism lawsuit by Universal; Monster Shark, featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000 under the title Devil Fish; and Cruel Jaws (aka Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws), which features footage from Jaws and Jaws 2.
Martha's Vineyard celebrated the film's 30th anniversary in 2005 with a "JawsFest" festival, which had second edition in 2012. An independent group of fans produced the feature-length documentary The Shark is Still Working, featuring interviews with the film's cast and crew. Narrated by Roy Scheider and dedicated to Peter Benchley, who died in 2006, it debuted at the 2009 Los Angeles United Film Festival.
Home video releases
The first ever LaserDisc title marketed in North America was the MCA DiscoVision release of Jaws in 1978. A second LaserDisc was released in 1992, before a third and final version came out under MCA/Universal Home Video's Signature Collection imprint in 1995. This release was an elaborate boxset that included deleted scenes and outtakes, a new two-hour documentary on the making of the film directed and produced by Laurent Bouzereau, a copy of the novel Jaws, and a CD of John Williams's soundtrack.
MCA Home Video first released Jaws on VHS in 1980. For the film's 20th anniversary in 1995, MCA Universal Home Video issued a new Collector's Edition tape featuring a making-of retrospective. This release sold 800,000 units in North America. Another, final VHS release, marking the film's 25th anniversary in 2000, came with a companion tape containing a documentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, and a trailer.
Jaws was first released on DVD in 2000 for the film's 25th anniversary, accompanied by a massive publicity campaign. It featured a 50-minute documentary on the making of the film (an edited version of the one featured on the 1995 LaserDisc release), with interviews with Spielberg, Scheider, Dreyfuss, Benchley, and other cast and crew members. Other extras included deleted scenes, outtakes, trailers, production photos, and storyboards. The DVD shipped one million copies in just one month. In June 2005, a 30th-anniversary edition was released at the JawsFest festival in Martha's Vineyard. The new DVD had many extras seen in previous home video releases, including the full two-hour Bouzereau documentary, and a previously unavailable interview with Spielberg conducted on the set of Jaws in 1974. On the second JawsFest in August 2012, the Blu-Ray of Jaws was released, with over four hours of extras, including The Shark Is Still Working. This Blu-Ray was part of the celebrations of Universal's 100th anniversary, and debuted at fourth place in the charts, with over 362,000 units sold.
Jaws spawned three sequels, none of which approached the success of the original—indeed, their combined domestic grosses amount to barely half of the first film's. In October 1975, Spielberg declared to a film festival audience that "making a sequel to anything is just a cheap carny trick". Nonetheless, he did consider taking on the first sequel when its original director, John D. Hancock, was fired a few days into the shoot; ultimately, his obligations to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which he was working on with Dreyfuss, made it impossible. Jaws 2 (1978) was eventually directed by Jeannot Szwarc; Scheider, Gary, Hamilton, and Jeffrey Kramer (who portrayed Deputy Hendricks) reprised their roles. It is generally regarded as the best of the sequels. The next film, Jaws 3-D (1983), was directed by Joe Alves, who had served as art director and production designer, respectively, on the two preceding films. Starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., it was released in the 3-D format, although the effect did not transfer to television or home video, where it was renamed Jaws 3. Jaws: The Revenge (1987), directed by Joseph Sargent, starring Michael Caine, and featuring the return of Gary, is considered one of the worst movies ever made. While all three sequels made a profit at the box office (Jaws 2 and Jaws 3-D were among the top 20 highest-grossing films of their respective years), critics and audiences alike were generally dissatisfied with the films.
Adaptations and merchandise
The film has inspired two theme park rides: one at Universal Studios Florida, which closed in January 2012, and one at Universal Studios Japan. There have been at least two musical adaptations: JAWS The Musical!, which premiered in 2004 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and Giant Killer Shark: The Musical, which premiered in 2006 at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Three video games based on the film were released: 1987's Jaws, developed by LJN for the Nintendo Entertainment System; 2006's Jaws Unleashed by Majesco Entertainment for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC; and 2011's Jaws: Ultimate Predator, also by Majesco, for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii. A mobile game by Bytemark was released in 2010 for the iPhone. Aristocrat made an officially licensed slot machine based on the movie.
- Inspirations and themes