What's the first film to gross over $100 million at the box office? If you're good at trivia (or at reading titles), you probably know the answer is Jaws, which debuted at the box office on June 20, 1975. We decided to celebrate its anniversary with these five fascinating facts about the blockbuster film...
The Shark Was Called Bruce
The film’s director, Steven Spielberg, named the large mechanical shark Bruce after his attorney, Bruce Ramer, who represented a number of big Hollywood celebrities. The mechanical shark cost $250,000 to build, but Steven Spielberg wasn’t impressed. It didn’t function correctly, had teeth that didn’t look real, and a mouth didn’t close correctly. It sank the first day, ending up at the bottom of Nantucket Sound. It needed retrofitting and was high-maintenance, which is why viewers don’t see the shark until 1 hour and 21 minutes into the 2-hour film.
Spielberg Thought the Musical Score Was a Joke The terrifying score for the movie kept viewers on the edge of their seats and was composed by John Williams, who has won five Academy Awards and 22 Grammys for his work. Spielberg acknowledges that the music was a large part of the success of the movie but was skeptical when he first heard it. He said when he heard it the first time, he laughed and thought it was a joke. But after listening to it several more times, it seemed right for the movie.
The Original Director of the Movie Was Fired Dick Richards, who went on to direct Tootsie in the 1980s, was originally hired by the studio’s executives to direct Jaws. However, he ran into trouble when he kept referring to the shark as a whale instead, apparently not realizing the difference between a man-eating fish and a large mammal. The execs at the studio became irritated that he didn’t know the difference and that he was downplaying how terrifying an attack by a large shark would be on a beachside town, so he was removed as the director and replaced by Steven Spielberg.
The Filming of Jaws Was Far Over Budget The budget to make Jaws was $3.5 million, but because of difficulties with the shark, script scenes that were written only the night before shooting, difficulties with casting and other problems, it ended up being closer to $9 million to produce. Instead of being shot in 55 days, it ended up taking 159 days to make the movie. They needn’t have worried because the reaction of moviegoers was phenomenal, and Jaws brought in more than $471 million worldwide.
A Food Fight Helped Ease the Tension of Filming Filming the movie took 159 days, which was so long Spielberg thought his job as a director was over. Moreover, it wasn’t helped by all the problems with the mechanical shark, so everyone working on the set was tense. During a buffet dinner at Martha’s Vineyard, actor Roy Scheider threw a handful of mashed potatoes with gravy into the face of Spielberg, starting a food fight. Richard Dreyfuss hurled his dessert at Scheider, and the entire crew joined in, including the people who had been hired to serve. It ended with Spielberg, Scheider, and Dreyfuss jumping into the swimming pool to wash the mess off.