It seemed to become a mess: More than 5 months of shooting, instead of ten weeks as it was planned. Not many famous actors and a malfunctioned shark.
But the latter was, as director Steven Spielberg states, a fortunate circumstance in the end. Had the shark, built from wood and paper, worked properly, the to this date 27 year old director had used it more. The trick was to show it less and create tension by that, Spielberg explains.
Eventually “Jaws” – based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name – became the highest-grossing film of all time until “Star Wars.” Won many awards for its soundtrack and editing and “was pivotal in establishing the modern Hollywood business model, which revolves around high box-office returns from action and adventure pictures with simple “high-concept” premises that are released during the summer in thousands of theaters and supported by heavy advertising,” as wikipedia says.
Shot on location on the island Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, the film’s advertising included twenty storeys high posters with prodcution company Universal spening 1.8 million Dollars promoting it.
For its actors the movie was a jump into the limelight. The late Roy Richard Scheider said to writer and reporter Paul Iorio: “I got a call from Steven Spielberg and he thought it was a good idea to have a city type of guy put into that ocean community. […] I remember one day, they pulled the damn thing [shark] out and put it on the cables and ran it past the boat and it was as long as the boat and I said, “Oh, my god, that looks great.” I remember that day. We all probably lit cigars!“
Schneider also was the actor who said the now famous words: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.“
Schneider: “That was in the script. The first time he sees the shark…But I liked the line so much, it amused me so much, that I said, “I bet I could work this in in a few other places.” So I worked it in two more times.“
Today 40 years after “Jaws” made it to the big screen, it can be regarded as a template for many horror movies that followed. Even Ridley Scott’s 1979 science fiction film “Alien” was presented to studio executives as “Jaws in space.” [source]