Steven Spielberg‘s JAWS was released in movie theaters thirty five years ago today, on June 20th 1975. At the time, movies were released slowly, in a few theaters in major cities. As word of mouth spread, distributors would expand the release to more and more markets. Jaws was the first film to have a “wide release”, opening at the same time across the country, which at the time ment a whopping 464 theaters on opening night, with a national marketing campaign.
Jaws grossed more than $7 million that weekend, and went on to gross more than $470 million worldwide — the highest grossing film of the time (knocked off the top spot when Star Wars was released two years later). At a time when a the average movie ticket price was only $2.05, that means that over 250 million tickets were sold. To give you an idea, Pixar’s largest grossing film to date Finding Nemo grossed $867.9 million worldwide in 2003, at a time before 3D when the average movie ticket was still $6, and even then, something like 145 million tickets were sold. If adjusted for ticket inflation, Jaw’s worldwide box office total would be near $2 billion.
The reason why Box Office is significant is that Jaws gave birth to the Blockbuster, and is considered one of the first “high concept” films. But not only was it a high concept blockbuster, it was critically acclaimed. The film currently holds a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And unless Armond White begins reviewing older classic films (god, I hope that never happens), it is likely to stay that way.
On this theatrical anniversary, please leave your thoughts/memories/experiences of the film in the comments below. After the jump I’ve also included some rare behind the scenes photos from the filming of Jaws.
Also, it’s worth noting that you can read the whole book, The Jaws Log, online through Google Books for FREE.