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Jaws (Universal, 1975)

Based on the Peter Benchley novel, Jaws, this American thriller made a star out of its music, perhaps more than the shark. Jaws became the highest grossing film in history and was the most successful movie of all time (until Star Wars in 1977). Jaws has won numerous awards for its soundtrack and editing. In 2001, the Library of Congress selected Jaws for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Jaws starred Roy Scheider as Police Chief Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as an oceanographer and Robert Shaw as a shark hunter. Jaws was shot mostly on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. They did not use real sharks and production was often interrupted as the mechanical sharks often malfunctioned, which led production costs to skyrocket and cause production delays. Spielberg decided instead to mostly “suggest” the great white shark’s presence by using that ominous, minimalist theme (created by John Williams).

Over its opening weekend, Jaws took in $17 million. It paid for itself after only 2 weeks! In 78 days, it overtook The Godfather as the highest grossing film in North America. It was the first film to make $100 million in movie rentals. (After inflation adjustments) Jaws has taken in around $2 billion worldwide. It currently sits as the 7th highest grossing film of all time and is the second most successful film franchise (behind Star Wars).

Jaws led to three sequels — Jaws 2 (1978), Jaws 3-D (1983) and Jaws: The Revenge (1987).