ByBri Thoma, writer at

Today is the 40th anniversary of the release of JAWS! So to honor the film turning the Big 4-0 here are 21 interesting facts you may or may not have known about the movie:

1. Jaws opened June 20th 1975, over 67 million Americans went to see the movie, making it the first summer "Blockbuster”.

2. Though it was the highest grossing film of the time it only opened on 409 screens. By the end of its 78 day run on top it was still showing on less than 1000 screens.

The film broke records after it left theaters as well. . .

3. This was the first movie to reach the coveted $100 million mark in "THEATRICAL RENTALS", which is about 45% of the "box office gross". It was the highest-grossing of all-time in the U.S. until Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).

4. After the shark was built, it was never tested in the water, and when it was put in the water it sank straight to the ocean floor. It took a team of divers to retrieve it.

5. Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, was used as Amity Island primarily because even 12 miles out to sea, the sandy bottom was only 30 feet down, allowing the mechanical shark to function. Residents were paid $64 to scream and run across the beach as extras.

6.Steven Spielberg named the shark "Bruce" after his lawyer. It’s believed this is where ‘Bruce’ of Finding Nemo gets his name.

7. Three mechanical "Bruces" were made, each with specialized functions. One shark was open on the right side, one was open on the left side, and the third was fully skinned. Each shark cost approximately $250,000.

8. The mechanical shark spent most of the movie broken-down, and was unavailable for certain shots. This led Steven Spielberg to use the camera as the "shark", and film from the shark's point of view. Many think this added to the chilling/haunting quality in the final release saying that it would have made it too cheesy had they shown the shark as much as originally planned.

9. An accident during filming caused the Orca to begin sinking. Steven Spielberg began screaming over a bullhorn for the nearby safety boats to rescue the actors from the sinking boat. John R. Carter, already up to his knees in water held his Nagra (tape recorder) up over his head and screamed, "F**k the actors, save the sound department!" During the accident, the film camera became submerged, so its film was flown to a New York film lab where technicians were able to save the film.

10. According to Steven Spielberg, the prop arm in the scene where Chrissie's remains are discovered "looked too fake", so instead they buried a female crew member in the sand with only her arm exposed.

11. During the scene in which Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw compare battle scars, Roy Scheider lifts up his shirt to reveal an appendix incision. This is not a prosthetic, but Scheider's own scar.

12. Robert Shaw could not stand Richard Dreyfuss and they argued all the time, which resulted in some good tension between Hooper and Quint.

13. Quint's name comes from the Latin word for "fifth". Quint is the fifth person killed by the shark (after Chrissie Watkins, Alex Kintner, Ben Gardner's disembodied head in boat, and Michael's sailing teacher).

14. When Brody (Roy Scheider) is trapped in the sinking Orca, it took 75 takes to get the shot right. Scheider did not trust the special effects team to rescue him in case of an emergency so he hid axes and hatchets around the cabin just in case.

15. The shooting star that appears during the night scene where Brody loads his revolver was real, not an optical effect. According to The Making of Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws' (1995) documentary.

16. According to Carl Gottlieb's "The Jaws Log", Steven Spielberg was never happy with the moment when Ben Gardner's head appears in the hole in the bottom of his boat. Preview audiences jumped at this scene, but Spielberg wanted more than an ordinary shock moment. However, the studio was unwilling to budget a re-shoot. So Spielberg declared that he'd pay for it himself, assembling a crew in editor Verna Fields' back-yard swimming pool, which would serve as the underwater location. A gallon of milk gave the water enough of the look of Nantucket Sound. The boat bottom was placed in the pool and Richard Dreyfuss' stunt double went through the action. The studio eventually ate the cost of the re-shoot, and the scene was taken to a much higher level, just by changing the composition and timing of a few feet of footage.

17. The sound-effect used when the shark first reveals itself, as Brody is throwing chum, is actually a fizzy-pop bottle being opened onto concrete after being shaken up.

18. After the shark blows up, the groaning sound effects during the shot of the carcass sinking are the same ones the truck makes as it crashes off a cliff in Steven Spielberg's first film, Duel (1971). The sound effect is from the original Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).

19. When composer John Williams originally played the score for Steven Spielberg, Spielberg laughed and said, "That's funny, John, really. But what did you really have in mind for the theme of Jaws (1975)?" Spielberg later stated that without Williams's score, the movie would only have been half as successful.

20. Steven Spielberg played first clarinet for the beach scene.

21. According to writer Carl Gottlieb, the line "You're gonna need a bigger boat" was not scripted but improvised by Roy Scheider.

Are you a Jaws expert and knew all of these facts already? Have any other fun facts not listed above? leave them down below, or just wish Jaws a happy birthday!


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