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Jaws

Catalog Number
66001
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VHS | N/A | Slipcase
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Jaws (1975)

Additional Information

Additional Information
A girl named Chrissie Watkins leaves a beach party at dusk on Amity Island and goes skinny dipping. While swimming out near a buoy, she is seized by something from below; it thrashes her around and drags her underwater.
Chrissie is reported missing and her remains are later found on the beach by the Deputy of police chief Martin Brody. The medical examiner informs Brody that she was killed by a shark. Brody plans to close the beaches but is overruled by mayor Larry Vaughn, who fears that reports of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season, the town's primary source of income. The medical examiner consequently attributes the death to a boating accident. Brody reluctantly goes along with the explanation. The shark then kills a young boy swimming at the beach. His mother places a bounty on the shark, sparking an amateur shark-hunting frenzy and attracting the attention of local professional shark hunter Quint, who offers to kill the shark for $10,000. Marine biologist Matt Hooper examines Chrissie's remains and determines that she was killed by a shark, not a boat.
A large tiger shark is caught by fishermen, leading the townspeople to believe the problem is solved. Hooper asks to examine its stomach contents, but Vaughn refuses. That evening, Brody and Hooper secretly open the shark's stomach and discover that it does not contain human remains. They head out to sea to find the shark, but instead find the wreckage of a boat belonging to local fisherman Ben Gardner. Hooper explores the vessel underwater and discovers a sizable shark's tooth protruding from the damaged hull before he is startled by Gardner's corpse, causing him to drop the tooth. Without evidence, Vaughn refuses to close the beaches.
Many tourists arrive on the Fourth of July. A children's prank causes panic at the main beach while the shark enters a nearby estuary and kills a man. Brody's son Michael, who narrowly escapes the attack, goes into shock. Brody persuades Vaughn to hire Quint, and Quint reluctantly allows Hooper and Brody to join the hunt. The three set out to kill the shark aboard Quint's vessel, the Orca.
Brody is given the task of laying a chum line but an enormous great white looms up behind the boat, and the trio watch it circle the Orca. Quint estimates its size at twenty-five feet in length, with a weight of three tons. He harpoons it with a line attached to a flotation barrel, but the shark pulls the barrel underwater and disappears.
The men retire to the cabin, where Quint relates his experience with sharks as a survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The shark returns, damages the hull and slips away. It reappears in the morning. Brody attempts to call the U.S. Coast Guard, but Quint destroys the radio. Quint harpoons two more barrels to the shark, and the men tie them both to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backwards, forcing water onto the deck and flooding the engine. Quint heads toward shore, hoping to draw it into shallow waters and suffocate it. In his obsession to kill the shark, Quint burns out the Orca's engine.
With the boat immobilized, the trio attempt a desperate approach: Hooper dons scuba gear and enters the ocean inside a shark proof cage, intending to stab the shark with a hypodermic spear filled with strychnine. The shark attacks the cage from behind, causing Hooper to drop the spear. When the shark becomes entangled in the wrecked cage, Hooper escapes and hides in the seabed. The shark then leaps onto the boat, crushing the transom. Quint slides down the deck and is eaten by the shark. When the shark attacks again, Brody shoves a pressurized scuba tank into its mouth, then takes Quint's rifle and climbs the sinking Orca's mast. The shark, with the tank still in its mouth, begins swimming toward Brody. Brody shoots the tank, causing it to explode and blowing the shark to pieces. Hooper resurfaces and he and Brody use the barrels to swim toward shore.

Universal spent $1.8 million promoting Jaws, including an unprecedented $700,000 on national television spot advertising.[36][92] The media blitz saw around twenty-five thirty-second advertisements aired per night on prime-time network TV between June 18, 1975, and the film's opening two days later.[93] Beyond that, in the description of film industry scholar Searle Kochberg, Universal "devised and co-ordinated a highly innovative plan" for the picture's marketing.[93] As early as October 1974, Zanuck, Brown, and Benchley hit the television and radio talk show circuit to promote the paperback edition of the novel and the forthcoming film.[94] The studio and publisher Bantam agreed on a title logo that would appear on both the paperback and in all of the advertising for the movie.[93] The centerpieces of the joint promotion strategy were John Williams's theme and the poster image featuring the shark approaching a lone female swimmer.[46] The poster was based on the paperback's cover, and had the same artist, Bantam employee Roger Kastel.[95] The Seiniger Advertising agency spent six months designing the poster; principal Tony Seiniger explained that "no matter what we did, it didn't look scary enough". Seiniger ultimately decided that "you had to actually go underneath the shark so you could see his teeth."[96]
More merchandise was created to take advantage of the film's release. In 1999, Graeme Turner wrote that Jaws was accompanied by what was still "probably the most elaborate array of tie-ins" of any film to date: "This included a sound-track album, T-shirts, plastic tumblers, a book about the making of the movie, the book the movie was based on, beach towels, blankets, shark costumes, toy sharks, hobby kits, iron-transfers, games, posters, shark's tooth necklaces, sleepwear, water pistols, and more."[97] The Ideal Toy Company, for instance, produced a game in which the player had to use a hook to fish out items from the shark's mouth before the jaws closed

The glowing audience response to a rough cut of the film at two test screenings in Dallas on March 26, 1975, and one in Long Beach, on March 28, along with the success of Benchley's novel and the early stages of Universal's marketing campaign, generated great interest among theater owners, facilitating the studio's plan to debut Jaws at hundreds of cinemas simultaneously.[99][100] A third and final preview screening, of a cut incorporating changes inspired by the previous presentations, was held in Hollywood on April 24.[101] After Universal chairman Lew Wasserman attended one of the screenings, he ordered the film's initial release—planned for a massive total of as many as 900 theaters—to be cut down, declaring, "I want this picture to run all summer long. I don't want people in Palm Springs to see the picture in Palm Springs. I want them to have to get in their cars and drive to see it in Hollywood."[102] Nonetheless, the several hundred theaters that were still booked for the opening represented what was then an unusually wide release. At the time, wide openings were associated with movies of doubtful quality; not uncommon on the exploitation side of the industry, they were customarily employed to diminish the effect of negative reviews and word of mouth. There had been some recent exceptions, precedents that included the rerelease of Billy Jack and the original release of its sequel The Trial of Billy Jack, the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force, and the latest installments in the James Bond series.[103][104] Still, the typical major studio film release at the time involved opening at a few big-city theaters, which allowed for a series of premieres. Distributors would then slowly forward prints to additional locales across the country, capitalizing on any positive critical or audience response. The outsized success of The Godfather in 1972 had sparked a trend toward wider releases, but even that film had debuted in just five theaters, before going wide in its second weekend.[105]
On June 20, Jaws opened across North America on 464 screens—409 in the United States, the remainder in Canada.[106] The coupling of this broad distribution pattern with the movie's then even rarer national television marketing campaign yielded a release method virtually unheard-of at the time.[107] (A month earlier, Columbia Pictures had done something similar with a Charles Bronson thriller, Breakout, though that film's prospects for an extended run were much slimmer.)[108][109] Universal president Sid Sheinberg reasoned that nationwide marketing costs would be amortized at a more favorable rate per print relative to a slow, scaled release.[107][110][111] Building on the film's success, the release was subsequently expanded on July 25 to nearly 700 theaters, and on August 15 to more than 950.[112] Overseas distribution followed the same pattern, with intensive television campaigns and wide releases—in Great Britain, for instance, Jaws opened in December at more than 100 theater

Jaws opened with a $7 million weekend[114] and recouped its production costs in two weeks.[115] In just 78 days it overtook The Godfather as the highest-grossing film at the North American box office,[105] sailing past that picture's earnings of $86 million[116] to become the first film to reach $100 million in rentals.[117] Its initial release ultimately brought in $123.1 million in rentals.[115] Theatrical re-releases in 1976 and 1979 brought its total rentals to $133.4 million.[116]
The picture entered overseas release in December 1975,[118] and its international business mirrored its domestic performance. It broke records in Singapore,[119] New Zealand, Japan,[120] Spain,[121] and Mexico.[122] By 1977, Jaws was the highest-grossing international release with worldwide rentals of $193 million, equating to about $400 million of gross revenue;[123] it supplanted The Godfather, which had earned $145 million in rentals.[124]
Jaws was the highest-grossing film of all time until Star Wars, which debuted two years later. Star Wars surpassed Jaws for the U.S. record six months after its release and set a new global record in 1978.[125][126] As of June 2013, it is the 127th-highest-grossing film of all time with $470.7 million worldwide,[127] and the 66th highest domestically with a total North American gross of $260 million.[114] Adjusted for inflation, Jaws has earned almost $2 billion worldwide at 2011 prices, and is the second most successful franchise film after Star Wars.[128] In North America, it is the seventh-highest-grossing movie of all time, with a total of $1.017 billion at current prices,[129] based on an estimated 128,078,800 tickets sold.[130] In the United Kingdom, it is the seventh-highest-grossing film to be released since 1975, earning the equivalent of over £70 million in 2009/10 currency,[131] with admissions estimated at 16.2 million.[132] Jaws has also sold 13 million tickets in Brazil, the second-highest attendance ever in the country behind Titanic.[133]
On television, the American Broadcasting Company aired it for the first time right after its 1979 re-release.[134] The first U.S. broadcast attracted 57 percent of the total audience, the second highest televised movie share at the time behind Gone with the Wind.[135] In the United Kingdom, 23 million people watched its inaugural broadcast in October 1981, the second biggest TV audience ever for a feature film behind Live and Let Die.[136]

Jaws received overwhelming critical acclaim upon release.[137][138] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a sensationally effective action picture, a scary thriller that works all the better because it's populated with characters that have been developed into human beings".[139] Variety's A.D. Murphy praised Spielberg's directorial skills, and called Robert Shaw's performance "absolutely magnificent".[140] According to The New Yorker's Pauline Kael, it was "the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made ... [with] more zest than an early Woody Allen picture, a lot more electricity, [and] it's funny in a Woody Allen sort of way".[141] For New Times magazine, Frank Rich wrote, "Spielberg is blessed with a talent that is absurdly absent from most American filmmakers these days: this man actually knows how to tell a story on screen. ... It speaks well of this director's gifts that some of the most frightening sequences in Jaws are those where we don't even see the shark."[142] Writing for New York magazine, Judith Crist described the film as "an exhilarating adventure entertainment of the highest order" and complimented its acting and "extraordinary technical achievements".[143] Rex Reed praised the "nerve-frying" action scenes and concluded that "for the most part, Jaws is a gripping horror film that works beautifully in every department".[144]
The film was not without its detractors. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "It's a measure of how the film operates that not once do we feel particular sympathy for any of the shark's victims. ... In the best films, characters are revealed in terms of the action. In movies like Jaws, characters are simply functions of the action ... like stage hands who move props around and deliver information when it's necessary". He did, however, describe it as "the sort of nonsense that can be a good deal of fun".[145] Los Angeles Times critic Charles Champlin disagreed with the film's PG rating, saying that "Jaws is too gruesome for children, and likely to turn the stomach of the impressionable at any age. ... It is a coarse-grained and exploitative work which depends on excess for its impact. Ashore it is a bore, awkwardly staged and lumpily written."[146] Marcia Magill of Films in Review said that while Jaws "is eminently worth seeing for its second half", she felt that before the protagonists' pursuit of the shark the film was "often flawed by its busyness".[147] William S. Pechter of Commentary described Jaws as "a mind-numbing repast for sense-sated gluttons" and "filmmaking of this essentially manipulative sort"; Molly Haskell of The Village Voice similarly characterized it as a "scare machine that works with computer-like precision. ... You feel like a rat, being given shock therapy".[142] The most frequently criticized aspect of the film has been the artificiality of its mechanical antagonist: Magill declared that "the programmed shark has one truly phony close-up",[147] and in 2002, online reviewer James Berardinelli said that if not for Spielberg's deftly suspenseful direction, "we would be doubled over with laughter at the cheesiness of the animatronic creature."[71] Halliwell's Film Guide claimed "despite genuinely suspenseful and frightening sequences, it is a slackly narrated and sometimes flatly handled thriller with an over-abundance of dialogue and, when it finally appears, a pretty unconvincing monster

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85818
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85818
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124 mins (NTSC)
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