‘Jaws’: The Movie That Changed The World

‘Jaws’: The Movie That Changed The World

Not only did Jaws change the way people swan in the sea, it also changed the way we watch movies. It’s not too much of a stretch to also say that Jaws is the movie that changed the world.

Jaws took a staggering $470 million at the box office. Almost 50 years since its release Jaws still ranks, if you adjust for inflation, in the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time. With a budget of just over $9 million, it was a massive earner for Universal Studios.

And while receiving mostly favourable reviews, nobody could have anticipated it would effectively change modern-day cinema.

the Jaws shark attacks sherrif brody onboard the orca
They Really Should Have Got A Bigger Boat

You’re Going To Need Bigger Budget

Despite the film going on to enjoy huge success, Spielberg feared he would never work in Hollywood again after filming had wrapped. Due to several factors including a sinking shark, the shooting schedule rose from a planned 55 days to a budget swelling 159. The film also went a reported 300 percent over budget, nearly four times the average budget for a Hollywood movie.

The Not So Scary Inner Mechanics Of The Deadliest Shark In Film History

Spielberg need not have worried though; not only is the film superbly directed, acted, and edited, it marked the beginning of how films are marketed to us. Studios considered the summer months Hollywoods “off-season” with cinemas mainly showing ‘b-movies’ aimed at kids on their school holidays.

But with the younger generation having more money in their pocket and the slow introduction of brand new multiplex cinemas with cool air-conditioning, the studios began to think differently.

The cooler cinemas also coincided with a spate of summer movies popular amongst young cinemagoers. The growing consensus among the studios was that they could make big profits by targeting the younger generation of moviegoers during the summer months. The summer blockbuster was born.

A Sea Change In Movie Marketing

Before the summer of 1975, Hollywood studios traditionally did not advertise their movies on network television. But this all changed in the run-up to the release of Jaws. For the three nights preceding the film’s release on June 20, Universal Pictures swamped the TV networks with 30-second adverts. The results were instantaneous with Jaws quickly passing the $100 million mark in record time.

The Original TV Commercial For Jaws

The Great White Change In Motion Pictures

But the marketing blitz that is all too common today shouldn’t take away what a genuinely groundbreaking film Jaws is.

It’s well documented that the ‘star’ of the movie, the shark, would frequently break down. This forced Spielberg’s hand in not showing it too much. While seemingly a drawback at first, Spielberg realised that keeping the shark out of sight would only make it bigger in the audience’s minds.

Another benefit of having a largely unusable shark is that it drew focus to the script. During the long days waiting for the Great White to splutter into action, the cast would bounce ideas around. Robert Shaw’s monologue about the USS Indianapolis’ sinking, one of the most memorable scenes, was conceived and created during one such long day.

The focus on the three main characters of the movie sets Jaws apart from many modern-day blockbusters, something that Hollywood seems to have forgotten. Today’s blockbusters are mostly special effects extravaganza’s with little thought given to the characters. Jaws should serve as a reminder to all producers and directors that characters matter.

Jaws will simply be revered as long as people want to watch films. As each new generation of movie fans discovers Jaws, its impact on society grows; just like it did in 1975 when it changed the way movies are marketed to us.

This article originally appeared on to-dolists.com

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey you! Welcome back! This is a genuinely interesting article. I’ve seen jaws but the husband rates it much more highly than I do. You’re making me want to go back and give it another look, even though I don’t enjoy feeling scared while watching films.

    1. Yes! Hello, I’m back (for an unspecified time 😀 ) and thanks – Jaws is in my top 10 movies of all time so this was a joy to write. Going to start writing a lot more about films and music as those are the things I really feel the urge to do (it may even keep me writing here!!)

      1. Write what you love and the money will follow. Well, not for me anyway, but for some people, I’m sure!

      2. Ha – not sure the money will be flowing but it’s keeping me in line!

  2. Rivergirl says:

    Are we sure Spielberg’s shark didn’t eat the author of this post? He’s been missing so long I fear for his safety.

    1. The author was metaphorically chewed up, swallowed but then after several months of digestion, was spat out again. He’s safe, but he’s been very distracted 🙂

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