On June 20, 1975, “Jaws” was released to the public, and nobody working on the film could even imagine how impactful it would be to cinema. The flick was the first true summer blockbuster, and it became one of the first films to really use TV spots and tie-in merchandise such as shark’s tooth necklaces, shark costumes, and water pistols to help promote its release across the country. The film won three Oscars, including one for Best Original Dramatic Score. We take a look at 12 facts surrounding this iconic film, including who “Jaws” author Peter Benchley wanted in the movie.
12) Spielberg Wasn’t The First Choice
Steven Spielberg wasn’t the producers’ first choice for a director. They originally wanted John Sturges, but they decided to go with Dick Richards. He was dropped from the film after he continuously called the shark a whale. Spielberg, who was 26 years old at the time, was signed to the project afterward.
11) Charlton Heston As Brody?
Steven Spielberg originally wanted Oscar-winning actor Charlton Heston to play the role of Chief Martin Brody in the film. He dropped the idea after realizing his heroic nature in the films “Airport 1975” and “Earthquake” would’ve meant that the shark’s threat level in the film would drop drastically. This made Heston very angry, and he vowed to never work with Spielberg.
10) Robert Shaw’s Drinking Habit
Robert Shaw’s portrayal of shark hunter Quint earned praise, but it was his drinking habits that caused a lot of commotion on set. His drinking was so intense that assistants would have to keep him from running off into another bar. He also had to re-shoot his Indianapolis speech because of his drunken demeanor.
9) Peter Benchley’s Choices
The movie is based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name. The New York City native suggested having Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen to be in the film. While that didn’t happen in the end, Benchley does make a cameo in the film as a reporter.
8) Hooper Lives
In the original novel, Hooper has an affair on his wife and gets killed by the shark in the end. Since the producers felt that the relationship aspect was completely pointless to the plot, they never put it in the film’s script. They also allowed Hooper to live in the film.
7) Little Screen Time
You would think that the subject of the film would get a great amount of screen time, right? That’s not the case with “Jaws.” The shark only has four minutes of screen time in the movie. Fortunately, those four minutes are the most impactful scenes in the entire film.
6) Ad-Libbed Lines
A pair of lines from the film didn’t come from the script, but they let them in the final cut. The line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Roy Scheider and “Here lies the body of Mary Lee” from Robert Shaw were both ad-libbed during filming.
5) Rise In Tourism
“Jaws” was shot on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Before the film was released, the area saw around 5,000 tourists in the area. After its release, it skyrocketed to 15,000 tourists. For the 30th anniversary in 2005, Martha’s Vineyard held a weekend long event called Jawsfest.
4) Its Name Is Bruce
During the filming of “Jaws,” they used three prop sharks named Bruce. Steven Spielberg named them Bruce after his lawyer Bruce Ramer. After time, Spielberg would get frustrated with having to deal with the obvious problems that came with using prop sharks. He would nickname them “The Great White Turd.”
3) Over Budget and Over Schedule
The filming of “Jaws” was very rough in certain areas. While the movie started out with a $3.5 million budget, it cost them $9 million in the end. The film was slated to be finished in 55 days, but it managed to be completed in 159 days. Both of these situations were caused by the prop sharks.
2) No Funny Business
The final scene that was shot involved the shark blowing up. Steven Spielberg avoided coming in that day because he was scared of any pranks that the cast and crew would try to pull on him. Instead, he decided to take a plane to Boston with “Jaws” actor Richard Dreyfuss.
1) Tax Problems
Robert Shaw didn’t see a penny from his “Jaws” paycheck. At the time, he was in trouble for tax evasion from the United States and England, and moving to Ireland didn’t help matters much. He was forced to give his paychecks away to help make the problem go away.