The summer blockbuster, as we now know it, essentially began 40 years ago with the release of one movie: “Jaws.”
The Steven Spielberg classic, based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark, premiered on movie screens in June 1975 and will be returning to the big screen later this month. Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal Pictures will present special screenings in nearly 500 theaters around the country starting June 21.
For fans, it’s a chance to once again see the movie that changed everything in Hollywood, from how movies are made to when they are released. For those younger viewers who haven’t had the pleasure yet, it’s a chance to see why “Jaws” is considered one of the most influential movies in film history, not to mention get the living daylights scared out of you. Just in time for beach season!
Here then are five ways that “Jaws” changed movies forever:
By most accounts, director Steven Spielberg feared he’d never work in Hollywood again after wrapping “Jaws.”
The shooting schedule ballooned from 55 to 159 days, and he went 300 percent over budget, spending $12 million or nearly four times the average production cost for a film in 1975.
By today’s standards, “Jaws” would cost only $40 million, considerably less than the average cost of a studio film. But back then only epic films such as “Cleopatra,” which nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox in 1963, “Spartacus” and “Lawrence of Arabia” boasted outsize budgets.
Advertised on TV
Before the summer of ’75, Hollywood studios rarely advertised their movies on television. That changed with “Jaws.”
For three nights preceding the film’s release, Universal saturated the networks with $700,000 worth of 30-second trailers during primetime, and it paid off. “Jaws” quickly surpassed the $100-million mark at the box office, breaking previous records, and went on to gross over $260 million in the United States alone.
The way “Jaws” was released also changed how studio films were released.
Prior to “Jaws,” Hollywood would slowly roll out release of its films over several months. The one exception was “The Godfather” in 1972, which Paramount opened in five theaters at once before moving to 316 theaters the following week.
“Jaws,” on the other hand, opened in 465 theaters, and in its first week had already raked in $7 million. By the second week, it had recouped its production costs, and in a mere 78 days had dethroned “The Godfather” at the box office.
The idea of the summer blockbuster had yet to crystallize when “Jaws” was released. Summer was considered Hollywood’s off-season, filled with schlock and B-movie fare.
But as air-conditioned theaters became the norm in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, three influential movies, “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967), “Easy Rider” (1969) and “American Graffiti” (1973) were released in summer. All three were popular with younger audiences, and suddenly studios realized the potential of targeting this group.
“Jaws” not only capitalized on this trend, it introduced what we now know as the summer movie season, the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day that is responsible for nearly 40 percent of Hollywood’s annual box-office revenue.
“Jaws” was Steven Spielberg’s second film.
Instead of being tossed out of Hollywood like he feared, he was heralded as a wunderkind following the movie’s box office success ($470 million worldwide) and critical acclaim (three Academy Awards for editing, original score and sound). Spielberg, now 68, went on to direct some of Hollywood’s biggest and best known films, including “ET,” “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” making him one of the most popular and influential directors and producers in film history.
Source: ABC News 5 Ways ‘Jaws’ Changed Movies Forever