Steven Spielberg wanted Quint to watch Moby Dick (1956) starring Gregory Peck. Peck held part of the rights to that movie and when Spielberg approached him for permission, Peck turned him down, embarrassed by his performance in the film.
--Source: The last great American picture show, Page 212
Steven Spielberg wanted Sterling Hayden for the role of Quint. Hayden, however, was in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid tax. All Hayden's income from acting was subject to a levy by the IRS, so there was an attempt to circumvent that: Hayden was also a writer, so one idea was to pay him union scale for his acting, and buy a story from him (his literary income wasn't subject to levy) for a large sum. It was concluded that the IRS would see through this scheme, so Robert Shaw was cast instead.
--Source: The Jaws Log, Page 67
Quint's personal story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis on July 30, 1945, which resulted in the deaths of 883 crewmen, many of them by shark attack, was scripted by Howard Sackler, John Milius and Robert Shaw. It's based on a real event.
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When the shark attacks Hooper's cage, there's live footage of a real Great White with a rope hanging from its mouth. Because the Great White sharks they filmed would be smaller than the mechanical shark in the movie, they constructed a smaller version of Hooper's shark cage. Inside the cage they alternately used a dwarf actor. One of the sharks they attracted got caught in the cage's cables and tore it apart trying to escape. The footage was so good that they changed the script to reflect the destroyed cage and Hooper escaping by hiding on the ocean floor. However, the small person used in the scene refused to go back in the miniature cage, which was damaged in the incident.
--Source: Steven Spielberg: Groundbreaking Director, Page 47
Screenwriter Carl Gottlieb: “Charlton Heston wanted to play Brody but he had saved a 747 airliner in Airport '75 and he was going to save Los Angeles in Earthquake and it did not seem right for him to be wasting his time with a little New England resort community.”
--Source: Roy Scheider: a film biography, Page 51
Jaws ranks number 7 in the box-office rankings. Grossing adjusted for inflation -> $1,026 million.
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The sequels:Jaws 2 (1978)Jaws 3D (1983)Jaws: The revenge (1987)
Spielberg used three mechanical sharks. Made of tubular steel and a special formula that mimicked shark skin, each model served a unique purpose. One was entirely open on the left side, the other on the right side, with the third being solid and complete. Oftentimes, filming had to be halted because of malfunctions or other difficulties with the steel monsters. One special problem involved the shark's artificial skin, which had to be constantly touched up with paint.
A scene filmed, but not included in the final release, was during the second beach attack. Brody's son, swimming in the "shallow area" is frozen in terror as the shark approaches him; the man saves his life by pushing the boy out of the way at the last minute and putting himself in the path of the shark. There is a shot of the bloody, dying man's upper body being dragged briefly along in the shark's jaws before being pulled underwater. Steven Spielberg shot the scene, but decided it was far too gruesome and didn't include it. The DVD release shows the scene being shot, blood and all, during the The Making of Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws' (1995) documentary, but it is not included in the "Deleted Footage" or "Outtakes" sections of the DVD.
Charlton Heston was considered for the role of Chief Brody. Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Jon Voight and Jan-Michael Vincent were considered for the role of Hooper.
Victoria Principal was considered for the role of Ellen Brody.
Richard Dreyfuss originally turned down the role of Hooper but had worries after the initial screening of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) and asked for his part back.
Lee Marvin was considered for the role of Quint by Steven Spielberg, despite his reservations about using big-name actors. Marvin thanked him but replied that he'd rather go fishing.
Spielberg says that, had the technology been better and had the mechanical shark worked more efficiently, he would have shown it earlier and more often.
Author Peter Benchley's choices for whom to cast in the film were Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.
The live shark footage was shot at Seal Rocks (Neptune Islands), South Australia. A real white pointer was cut up and "extended" for the close-up shots.
The film is based on the 1974 best-selling novel of the same name by American author Peter Benchley (1940-2006). Two movie producers had gotten wind of Jaws while it was still an unpublished manuscript. They purchased the movie rights and a future Peter Benchley screenplay for $250,000.