One of Spielberg’s original films, Jaws depicts the story of a man-eating great white shark terrorizing the folks at Amity Island. Based off of Peter Benchley’s novel, and starring Roy Scheider as chief of police “Martin Brody,” Richard Dreyfuss as “Matt Hooper” the oceanographer, and Robert Shaw as “Quint” the shark hunter, Jaws brought movie making to a whole new level.
With a budget of only $4 million (the budget totaled $9 million after having major mechanical issues with the sharks and other notable issues) Jaws went on to gross over $470 million worldwide at the box office. But how did Jaws become so successful? The answer is actually part of the travesty that the film crew went through.
The mechanical sharks that they created broke down many times which forced Spielberg to constantly alter the script over and over and over again. This caused much time to be lost and the value of production kept increasing. There were also other occurrences that caused delays while shooting at sea such as other boats getting in the way of the picture as well as cameras getting soaked constantly from being exposed to water.
Spielberg had also blamed a lot of the issues on himself saying that he had a lack of inexperience as a director. After having been asked about his choice of filming the movie at sea instead of inside a giant water tank Spielberg responded, “I could have shot the movie in the tank or even in a protected lake somewhere, but it would not have looked the same.”
When asked about his lack of inexperience Spielberg affirmed, “I was naive about the ocean, basically. I was pretty naive about mother nature and the hubris of a filmmaker who thinks he can conquer the elements was foolhardy, but I was too young to know I was being foolhardy when I demanded that we shoot the film in the Atlantic Ocean and not in a North Hollywood tank.” Read More here.
However, even though Spielberg and his crew dealt with so many issues while adding $5 million more to the budget, these detriments actually became perhaps the saving grace for the film specifically speaking for the mechanical sharks. Since the sharks could not be trusted, Spielberg had to take a different approach to filming Jaws. The shark could now only be “hinted at” in the duration of the movie.
Even the brilliant score by John Williams proved to be extremely effective and has become one of the most recognizable movie themes of all time. By showing only glimpses of the shark every once in a while audiences were inevitably terrified of what was lurking in the waters near Amity Island. This became the film’s greatest strength and the main reason why the film was successful. What looked to be a nightmare of a film quickly became a diamond in the rough.
So what do YOU guys think? Do you find it amazing how Jaws has drawn such a cult following even with its budget and other various issues? Comment below!