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35 years later, 'Jaws' still brings shrieks

Buzz, Woody and Andy may be swimming in money after Toy Story 3's $109 million debut this weekend. But 35 years ago — this same week — a different type of movie was making sure that nobody wanted to get into the water ever again. • Steven Spielberg's Jaws hit movie theaters on June 20, 1975, after struggling through lukewarm studio support and production problems. But strong reviews from critics and widespread distribution of the film — at least by mid '70s standards — gave birth to the first summer blockbuster in Hollywood history. • Here are just a few fun bits — or bites — of trivia that will have you humming the ominous theme music all week. Compiled by Times Staff

Small beginnings: Jaws was the first movie to have a wide release — 464 theaters on opening night. (Toy Story 3 opened at 4,028 theaters.) It would gross $7 million that weekend, later pulling in more than $470 million, making it the highest grossing film of all time … for two years, until Star Wars broke the record.

Casting choices: Robert Shaw wasn't the first choice to play seafaring salt Quint; it was Sterling Hayden. Likewise, Charlton Heston was considered for the role of Chief Brody. (Heston vowed never to work with Spielberg after being turned down for the role.) If Jaws author Peter Benchley had his way, it would have starred Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.

And the shark was … Bruce: That reportedly was the name of Spielberg's lawyer. The shark had its fair share of mechanical problems during filming, leading Spielberg to call "Bruce" a slew of other nicknames we can't print in the newspaper.

The locale: Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts served as "Amity Island." Residents were paid $64 as extras to scream and run when the shark was spotted at the beach. However, the first shark caught in the movie — mistakenly believed by the characters to be the man-eater — was far too big to have actually been caught off Martha's Vineyard. Congratulations, Florida, that's a real shark caught in the Sunshine State in that scene.

And the most famous line: According to writer Carl Gottlieb, the line "You're gonna need a bigger boat" was not in the script. It was improvised by Roy Scheider.

At the Oscars: Jaws was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning three (best film editing, best music, best sound). John Williams, who scored the music, was also conducting the orchestra for the Oscars. When he heard his name announced as a winner, he ran up to get his trophy, then continued conducting. The movie was also nominated for best picture. It lost to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Source: IMDB.com, Slashfilm.com

WATCH IT AGAIN

Remember what happened on the Fourth of July in Jaws? Find out when Encore cable channel airs the movie three times on July 4: at 4:45 a.m., 12:40 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.

What the critics said

Jaws is the first movie that has ever

made me want to faint. … The film

is superbly crafted and incredibly

terrifying, but it is also violently obscene."

St. Petersburg Times/Evening Independent

"If you think about Jaws for more than

45 seconds you will recognize it as nonsense, but it's the sort of nonsense that can be

a good deal of fun, if you like to have

the wits scared out of you at irregular intervals." New York Times

"It's a film that's as frightening as The Exorcist, and yet it's a nicer kind of fright, somehow more fun because we're being scared

by an outdoor-adventure saga instead

of by a brimstone-and-vomit devil."

Chicago Sun-Times

"Peter Benchley's bestseller about a killer

shark and a tourist beach town has become

a film of consummate suspense, tension

and terror. The Universal release looks like

a torrid moneymaker everywhere." Variety

35 years later, 'Jaws' still brings shrieks 06/21/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 8:01am]

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