Jaws is the first film in a motion picture franchise which has so far spanned four feature films and a variety of novelizations and other ancillary media. Jaws is commonly referred to as the first modern day 'Block-buster'. Setting box office records, the film was labeled a "blockbuster" during its initial theatrical release during the summer of 1975. This term has been subsequently used to describe and market hit films, and is derived from the fact lines could be seen winding down and around city blocks. This phenomenon was in part due to limited theatrical runs and the lack of what would later become multiplex cinema theaters. Jaws stars Roy Scheider as Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper and Robert Shaw as Quint.
During a party at the beaches of Amity Island, a young woman named Chrissie Watkins leaves with her boyfriend, who later becomes unconscious and goes skinny dipping. While swimming out towards a near buoy, she is seized and grabbed by something below from surface that thrashes her around. She tries to grab onto the buoy to pull herself up, but the force drags her underneath the ocean.
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 to ensure the safety of the people, but is overruled by Mayor Vaughn, who fears that reports of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season, the town's primary source of income. After the medical examiner falsely concludes Watkins' death was on account of a boating accident, Brody reluctantly goes along with the explanation. Later at the beach, the shark kills a young boy swimming on his raft and swimmers struggled to get out of the water. The boy's 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. Two men plot to catch the shark by attaching using a roast, on a hook, hitched to a wooden jetty. The plan goes awry when the dock is pulled apart by the shark, which almost takes one man to his demise. Marine biologist Matt Hooper examines Chrissie's remains and determines unequivocally that she was killed by a shark, not a boat.
When fishermen capture a large tiger shark, the townspeople believe it to be the culprit of the earlier killings and the case is now closed. 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 any human remains. They head out to sea to find the shark, but instead find the wreckage of a boat belonging to a 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 or hire Quint.
Many tourists arrive on the Fourth of July, where a dorsal fin is sighted, causing mass panic, only for it to come on land and be discovered to be made of plastic — it was a prank orchestrated by local teenagers. As people are calming down and recovering from the panic of the prank, the shark enters a cove and tilts a rowboat, killing the boater. Brody's son Michael, who narrowly escapes the attack, goes into shock. Brody finally convinces 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 as twenty-five feet in length, with a weight of over 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, enraging Brody. After a long chase, 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. Before Quint can sever the lines with a machete, the stern cleats are yanked out. He then 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 lethally inject the shark with a hypodermic spear filled with strychnine. The shark attacks and demolishes the cage from behind, causing Hooper to drop the spear before he can inject it. When the shark becomes entangled in the wrecked cage, Hooper escapes and hides in the seabed. The shark then leaps onto the boat and attacks it directly, crushing the transom. Quint slides down the deck and is devoured alive 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, who shoots the tank, causing it to explode and blowing the shark to pieces. Hooper swims to the surface and he and Brody use the barrels to swim back to shore.
- Roy Scheider as Martin Brody.
- Robert Shaw as Quint, and Bruce (uncredited).
- Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper
- Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody
- Murray Hamilton as Larry Vaughn
- Jeffrey Kramer as Hendricks
- Carl Gottlieb as Meadows
- Susan Backlinie as Chrissie
In May of 1974 production of a feature film, "Jaws", began quietly on what is known as South beach on the coast of Martha's Vineyard. JAWS was later released to overwhelming critical acclaim during the sumer of 1975, now referred to as 'the summer of the shark'. Besides being plagued with countless production problems including a malfunctioning shark and a sinking camera boat, the crew endured and the film was miraculously completed.
As a result, fans of the film (or 'fin fans'), continue to flock to the island to relive the initial fear that kept so many out of the ocean during the summer of the film's release. In line with this move by the chamber of commerce, an event (Jawsfest: Tribute) took place on the Island during the summer of 2012, and a new Blu-ray release of the film was released following extensive restoration of the original negatives.
- Jaws is the very first Summer Blockbuster to ever be created.
- The movie is the first one to ever make $100 million dollars at the Box Office.
- The shark was nicknamed after Steven Spielberg's Lawyer, Bruce M. Ramer.
- The news reporter (who's reporting about the recent Shark Attacks) is played by Peter Benchley, The author of the Jaws Novel and Co-Screenwriter of the movie.
- The line "You're gonna need a bigger boat." never was in the script. Roy Scheider came up with it while filming the scene.
- The stunt double for Hooper in the Cage Scene was Richard Warlock - who played Michael Myers in Halloween II.
- The scene where Bruce got caught in the Rope of the Cage was actual shark footage that was shot off the Coast of Australia. It originally went wrong but they wanted to use it for something, so they added it into the film.
- Ben Gardener’s jump scare didn’t originally have the best impact on the audience, so Steven Spielberg spent his own money for it to be reshot to get the scene just right and have the audience the most scared.