'Jaws': The Movie That Changed The World
Not only did the movie blockbuster Jaws change the way people swan in the sea, but it also changed the way we watch movies. It's not too much of a stretch to say that Jaws the movie changed the world.
Jaws took a staggering $470 million at the box office. Almost 50 years since its release Jaws still ranks, if you adjust for inflation, in the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time. Having been made for just over $9 million it was a massive earner for Universal Studios. While receiving mostly favourable reviews, nobody could have anticipated that it would effectively change modern-day cinema and become the blueprint for today's blockbusters.
You Need To Get A Bigger Budget
But despite the film's massive success by many accounts, Steven Spielberg feared he would never work in Hollywood again after filming had wrapped. Due to several factors including a shark that kept sinking, the shooting schedule rose from a planned 55 days to 159. The film also went a reported 300 per cent over budget and nearly four times the average budget for a Hollywood movie.
Spielberg need not have worried though as not only was the film superbly directed, acted, edited and anything else you may care to mention, it was also the first movie to marketed differently. Studios usually left the summer for 'b-movies' as traditionally the cinema's were full of kids on their school holidays. The summer months were considered Hollywoods' offseason'. But with the slow introduction of brand new multiplex cinemas with cool air-conditioning, the studio's began to think differently.
The cooler cinema theatre's also coincided with a spate of summer movies popular amongst young theatregoers that took significant receipts at the box office. The growing consensus among the studios was that they could make big profits by targeting the younger generation of moviegoers during the summer months. The summer blockbuster was born.
A Sea Change In Movie Marketing
Before the summer of 1975, Hollywood studios traditionally did not advertise their movies on network television. But this all changed in the run-up to the release of Jaws. For the three nights preceding the film's release on June 20, Universal Pictures swamped the TV networks with short 30 second adverts. The results were instantaneous by quickly passing the $100 million mark in record time.
The Great White Change In Motion Pictures
But the marketing blitz that is all too common (and much less effective) today shouldn't take away what a genuinely groundbreaking film Jaws is. It is well documented that the 'star' of the movie, the shark, would frequently break down, forcing Spielberg's hand in not showing it too much. While this seemed to be a drawback at first, Spielberg quickly realised that keeping the shark out of sight for much of the movie would only make the shark seem 'bigger' in the audience's minds.
Another benefit of having a largely unusable shark was that it helped draw focus to the script during the long days waiting for the Great White to splutter into action. Robert Shaw's monologue about the USS Indianapolis' sinking was conceived and created during one such long day of waiting for a broken shark to splutter into life.
The focus on the three main characters of the movie sets it apart from many modern-day blockbusters, something that Hollywood seems to have forgotten. Today's blockbusters are mostly special effects extravaganza's with little thought given to the characters.
Jaws was an instant classic and will be revered as long as people want to watch films. As each new generation of movie fans discovers Jaws, its impact on society grows, just like it did in 1975 when it changed the way movies are marketed to us.
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