The 40th anniversary of the initial release of Jaws is marked on 1 June 1975, striking a fear of sharks into a whole generation to follow. It opened in cinemas across the US a few weeks later and would go on to become the highest grossing film of the time. 

1. The great white shark in the film was estimated to be around 25ft long. The biggest great white to have ever been caught in real life was around 20ft.

2. The film was based on the book by Peter Benchley. He based it on a series of shark attacks that took place off the coast of New Jersey in 1964 and a 4,500lb shark caught in 1964 off the coast of Montauk. (yikes!)

3. Other titles for the bestseller included The Silence of the Deep, Leviathan Rising, and The Jaws of Death.

4. Despite widespread belief, stunt woman and actress Susan Backlinie did not break her ribs or hip while filming the opening scene, meaning her screams of terror were real. However, Spielberg did not warn her when she would be ‘attacked’, so her reactions were more genuine.

5. Richard Dreyfuss was not Spielberg’s first choice for the role of Matt Hooper – Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms and Jon Voight were all approached first.

6. The iconic poster for Jaws was designed by artist Roger Kastel for Benchley’s book.

7. In the book, Hooper dies and Quint is killed by drowning – he is dragged underwater after harpooning jaws. In the film, Hooper lives and Quint is eaten alive feet-first.

8. On set, Robert Shaw (Quint) and Dreyfuss (Hooper) did not like each other, providing some of the tension between the pair.

9. Five people are killed by jaws in the film – Chrissie Watkins, Alex Kinter, Ben Gardner, a man in the estuary and Quint. A dog also died.

10. Spielberg initially did not like the music saying it was too simple. He changed his mind later.

11. Credited with being the first summer “blockbuster” after over 67 million people in the US went to see it.

12. Jaws made over $7m in its opening weekend – not far off the $9m production budget.

13. Three mechanical sharks were used in the filming with each having specialised functions. They were nicknamed “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer.

14. The first shark killed in the film was a real shark killed in Florida.

15. The film’s most famous line – “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” – was improvised by Roy Schnieder.

16. When the first victim’s hand is found in the sand, Spielberg said the fake arm they had bought looked too fake, so they buried a crew member in the sand with her arm sticking out.

17. Fidel Castro enjoyed Jaws and considered a wonderful piece of Marxist propaganda. He said he thought the shark was attacking American culture and capitalism.

18. Brody’s dog in the film was Spielberg’s dog in real life – Elma.

19. Spielberg was not the original choice for director. The first choice was scrapped because they did not know the difference between a whale and a shark.

20. The first mechanical shark was not tested in water before production started and when it was placed in the ocean it sank to the floor.


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