'Jaws' Launched Summer Blockbuster 35 Years Ago

It was the summer of '75, and beach attendance fell as folks flocked to theaters to catch the phenomenon known as "Jaws."

The movie, released in theaters 35 years ago this Sunday, not only instilled a fear of killer great white sharks, leading to a marked drop in beach attendance, but launched the beginning of the summer blockbuster.

"It had a good scary premise lots of people could relate to," Gregg Kilday, film editor at The Hollywood Reporter, told ABCNews.com.

Never before had a movie done so well in the previously dead summer months. Following the widest distribution of its time and a national television advertising campaign, "Jaws" became the first film to top $100 million at the domestic box office.

VIDEO:Jaws Turns 35

On the heels of the success of "Jaws," the Hollywood studios began shifting their action and thriller movies to a wide summer release, creating what has become known as the summer movie season.

"Jaws" was a critical success, too. The New Yorker's Pauline Kael called it "the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made."

Filmgoers developed a fear of sharks in much the same way they feared showers after the release of "Psycho."

from left: Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw.

The story, based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel, centers on the small fictional Amity Island, where a shark attack prompts new police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to close the beaches. When Brody is overruled by the mayor, the shark continues to strike, nearly killing Brody's son.

Brody, fish specialist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) head out to sea to hunt the great white. Brody succeeds in killing it but not before it takes Quint's life.

When the movie was released, the nation was gripped by "Jaws" fever and Universal capitalized on it by selling the film's soundtrack, along with stuffed sharks, beach towels, T-shirts, caps and action figures.

Who can forget the movie's theme song? "Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum" became synonymous with impending danger. The simple alternating pattern of the E and F notes earned composer John Williams an Academy Award.

'Jaws' Remake in the Works?

Though three sequels would follow, their combined grosses would barely match the take of the original film.

Today, the original still stands the test of time.

"Keep in mind that movie was made without digital effects," Kilday said. "It was a combination of physical effects, with a fake shark that didn't work all that well, filmmaking craft and tricks, the editing, the music score and the actors and their reactions. Some of that been lost today as filmmakers rely more on digital effects."

In recent years there's been talk of a remake -- the latest rumors include Tom Cruise taking over the role of Brody and comedian Tracy Morgan filling Quint's role in a 3-D version. In February, Morgan told MTV he would "love to do a 'Jaws' movie" but had not yet been approached about it.

A spokesman for Universal told ABCNews.com the rumors are untrue. "There is no remake in development," he said.

Should the studio execs decide otherwise, they won't have to look far for their shark. One of the 25-foot mechanical beasts was located in a Los Angeles junkyard by an NPR reporter. It had once been displayed at the Univeral Studios theme park.

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