40 Fascinating Facts About... Jaws

Here are 40 facts about Jaws, as the sea-set thriller celebrates 40 years of cinematic glory

  1. 1

    It's based on a book

    Jaws is inspired by Peter Benchley's 1974 novel of the same name

  2. 2

    Jaws won three Academy Awards

    It won best sound, best film editing and best music in 1976. It was also nominated for best picture.

  3. 3

    There were actually three sharks

    Three? RUN!

  4. 4

    And they were all called... Bruce

    You probably thought the shark in Jaws didn't have a name (or maybe that he was just called Jaws). In fact, the pneumatically-powered prop sharks were known by the cast and crew as "Bruce", after Stephen Spielberg's lawyer, Bruce Raimer. Presumably he was an attorney with bite...

  5. 5

    The most famous line wasn't in the original script

    When Police Chief Brody finally sees the shark, he turns to Captain Quint and says, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”. The line was improvised by Roy Scheider on the day of shooting.

  6. 6

    The iconic tune is made up of just two musical notes

    Simple.

  7. 7

    25% of the film is shot from water level

    To give audiences the sense of treading water. A pretty tiring business.

  8. 8

    Jaws wasn't always called Jaws

    Author Peter Benchley considered dozens of titles for his novel, including A Stillness in the Water, A Question of Evil, Jaws of Despair, Dark White, Squam, The Edge of Gloom and What Have We Done?

  9. 9

    The shark couldn't swim

    One mechanical shark actually sunk to the bottom of the ocean, having not been tested in water before filming began. Not so scary now, eh?

  10. 10

    The boat also sank

    An accident during filming resulted in the Orca beginning to sink. The film camera was submerged and its film had to be flown to a New York camera lab where technicians were able to save the film.

  11. 11

    Spielberg sent out another boat, telling people, “Get the actors off the boat!”

    While sound man John Carter held his tape recorder over his head, shouting “F*** the actors, save the sound department!”

  12. 12

    The Bruces were actually pretty high maintenance

    Every night, they had to be drained, scrubbed, and repainted...

  13. 13

    In fact, the shots from the shark's perspective...

    ... were actually a result of the mechanical shark spending much of the filming time broken.

  14. 14

    Chrissies severed arm actually belonged to a crew member

    The prop arm wasn't convincing enough, so a female crew member was buried beneath the sand with only her arm exposed. Standard day at the office.

  15. 15

    Jaws was filmed around Martha's Vineyard

    The area in Massachusetts doubled as Amity Island, because of sand banks which created shallow waters far out to sea.

  16. 16

    Each shark cost approximately $250,000

  17. 17

    Spielberg wasn't the studio's first choice

    Dick Richards was initially approached to direct but was dropped after referring to the story's "whale" one too many times...

  18. 18

    The script as still unfinished when filming began

    And it had had a troubled journey that far, with four different writer and five rewrites.

  19. 19

    One scary scene was filmed in the film editor's swimming pool

    Unhappy with one shot, Spielberg re-filmed it in Verna Fields' swimming pool, using powdered milk to make the water look like the ocean

  20. 20

    Jaws took $60 million in its opening month

  21. 21

    And it's still one of the highest-grossing films of all time

    It comes in at number nine, after the likes of Gone With the Wind, Avatar, Star Wars, Titanic, The Sound of Music and E.T.

  22. 22

    Chrissie's screams weren't recorded at sea

    Actress Susan Backlinie's screaming sounds were taped in post-production. Spielberg stood above the actress with a baby bassinet full of water and poured it over her mouth as she yelled.

  23. 23

    The shark takes his time to appear

    The shark's first full appearance in the two-hour film occurs at the 1:21 mark.

  24. 24

    Steven Spielberg was just 28 when he directed Jaws

    He'd directed a couple of films before: Duel and The Sugarland Express.

  25. 25

    Spielberg thought John Williams' now iconic score was a joke when he first heard it

    He later said: "The score was clearly responsible for half of the success of that movie."

  26. 26

    Author Peter Benchley objected to the ending so much he was thrown off set

    In the book, Hooper is killed by the shark but the film he escapes relatively unscathed...

  27. 27

    And the reason Hooper survives?

    A second unit were filming footage of real sharks in Australia. They captured film of a great white attacking an empty cage and Spielberg wanted to use it, so the scene was rewritten to let Hooper escape.

  28. 28

    That slap was real

    The grieving mother who slapped Chief Brody in the movie was played by actress Lee Fierro. She had a difficult time faking the slap and instead hit Scheider for real over and over during the many takes needed to get the scene right.

  29. 29

    Spielberg snuck into cinema screenings of the film

    After Jaws opened, Spielberg and screenwriter Gottlieb have admitted to sneaking into screenings in LA and standing at the back of the "just to watch the sold-out audience visibly rise out of their seats with a collective shriek."

  30. 30

    John Williams had to rush his Oscar acceptance

    He was conducting the orchestra during the 1976 Academy Awards, so when he won the Oscar for best score he had to run up to the podium to accept his Oscar and then run back down to continue conducting.

  31. 31

    Filming was originally supposed to take just 52 days

    But it actually took 155...

  32. 32

    Jaws was the first summer blockbuster

    Delays in production resulted in the film being pushed back to June, a time previously considered too risky for a big release

  33. 33

    Spielberg thought the film spelled the end of his career

    "I thought my career as a filmmaker was over. I heard rumors ... that I would never work again because no one had ever taken a film 100 days over schedule," he has said.

  34. 34

    Spielberg missed the final scene being shot

    He'd heard that the crew were planning to throw him in the water when the scene was done so, wearing his most expensive clothes, he headed back to shore before anyone could.

  35. 35

    Jaws makes a cameo appearance in Jurassic Park

    Director Steven Spielberg gave himself a high five in Jurassic Park, by giving Jaws a little cameo. You'll have to look closely on Nedry's left screen to spot it. As if one killer animal wasn't enough, eh?

  36. 36

    All of the mechanic sharks used in Jaws have since been destroyed

    So that's that.

  37. 37

    The rights to the book were sold to Universal for $150,000

    Benchley called the money "the moon" at the time.

  38. 38

    Talks initially involved getting an animal trainer in to work their magic on a Great White

    The idea was soon dismissed, because, well... it's obviously ridiculous.

  39. 39

    George Lucas once got stuck in the shark's mouth

    George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were good pals and often helped out on each other's projects. During a set visit to Jaws, Lucas put his head in 'Bruce The Shark's mouth and Spielberg closed the jaws for a laugh. The joke capsized quickly when the prop malfunctioned and Lucas got stuck. Seems a bit fishy to us...

  40. 40

    Brody's dog was actually Spielberg's own pet

    Spielberg's dog Elmer appears in the movie. He's also had cameo appearances in The Sugarland Express, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941.

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