Jaws was such a nightmare to shoot that Steven Spielberg was certain that he’d be relegated to making indies.
The tales from behind the scenes of 1975’s Jaws are as famous as the movie itself: multiple script rewrites, troubles shooting on the ocean, a ballooning budget, a shark that was being a bit of a diva, and on and on. And Steven Spielberg, who hadn’t made a movie with such stakes before, had a feeling that Jaws would send him into independents.
In an interview excerpted from the upcoming book “Spielberg: The First Ten Years”, the director recalls not only the terribly taxing production of Jaws but how it convinced him it would be his last major studio project. “I had terrible, despairing days where I could see nobody hiring me again, and I could imagine Jaws being my last studio movie. I thought I would probably go on to make independent films if I could get doctors and dentists to put up enough money to finance a little movie with four people playing cards in a room. Basically, I didn’t have much hope for any longevity for my career, but I wanted to finish Jaws because I had never stopped believing in the movie.”
Such belief – and, you know, being one of the most skilled directors of his generation – pushed Jaws out of the Atlantic and into the stratosphere, terrorizing moviegoers from day one, becoming not just the highest-grossing film of 1975 but of all time…before that pesky George Lucas got in its way. Even with the financial successes of droids, James Cameron’s blue people and the likes of the Avengers, Jaws still ranks as one of the biggest hits at the box office, sitting in the top 10 when inflation is accounted for.
And of course Jaws wouldn’t put Spielberg anywhere near the indies (or television, where he dabbled prior and hopes to return some day), hitting a string of mostly hits that included Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark and 1941…if any of his movies would knock him down a peg, it’d be that one…And instead of accepting accolades under the tent at the Independent Spirit Awards, he’d be one of the most nominated directors at the Academy Awards, even nabbing two Oscars (so far?). Pretty good for a guy who went from semi-trucks to great whites.
Where does Jaws rank in your list of top Steven Spielberg movies? Give us your top 3 below!
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/spielberg-expected-jaws-to-push-him-into-the-indie-circuit/