'Jaws' Launched Summer Blockbuster 35 Years Ago

Where the cast of "Jaws" is on the movie's 35th anniversary.

June 18, 2010— -- 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.

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."

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.

No doubt anyone seeking to remake the film will want to seek the blessing of its original director, Steven Spielberg, who went on to become one of the most successful directors of all time. Here's a look at what's happened to Spielberg and the film's stars since the release of "Jaws."

Martin Brody/Roy Scheider

Scheider appeared in two popular films of the early '70s, "Klute" and "The French Connection," and earned an Oscar nod for best supporting actor before landing the role as police chief Brody.

Scheider uttered one of the film's more famous lines, "You're gonna need a bigger boat," which he actually ad-libbed during the scene when Brody first comes face to face with the shark. The line was voted 35th on the American Film Institute's list of best movie quotes.

Cast of 'Jaws': Where Are They Now?

After "Jaws," Scheider dropped out of "The Deer Hunter" in which he'd been offered the role of Michael, which Robert De Niro later filled. Still obligated to Universal, Scheider reprised his role as Brody in "Jaws 2." The sequel did well at the box office but in no way compared to the original. Scheider also reportedly clashed with director Jeannot Szwarc.

In 1979, Scheider received his second Academy nomination, this time for best actor for his role as Bob Fosse in "All That Jazz." He continued to work through the '80s, '90s and 2000s, but never earned the same critical success as he did in his early years.

In 2004, Scheider was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He died four years later at the age of 75 in a hospital in Little Rock, Ark.

Matt Hooper/Richard Dreyfuss

Dreyfuss reportedly turned down the role of Hooper when it was first offered, but then, worried that "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," in which he had his first starring role, would flop, he called back Spielberg and immediately accepted.

It was a fortuitous decision. Following "Jaws," Dreyfuss partnered with Spielberg again in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." In 1978, he became the youngest actor to win the Academy Award for best actor for his portrayal of a struggling actor in "The Goodbye Girl."

But Dreyfuss did not handle success well. He became addicted to cocaine and in 1982 was arrested for possession after his car struck a tree. The actor entered rehab and in 1986 made his film comeback with "Down And Out In Beverly Hills."

Since then, Dreyfuss, now 62, has starred in comedies ("What About Bob?"), dramas ("Mr. Holland's Opus," for which he received another Oscar nod) and Apple computer commercials.

Quint/Robert Shaw

English actor Robert Shaw had a notable career before starring as Quint in "Jaws." He played a secret agent in the second James Bond film, a mobster in "The Sting" and the hijacker Mr. Blue in "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three."

But it's as shark hunter Quint that he may be best known. The film's producers reportedly suggested Shaw after working with him on "The Sting." Who can forget the scene where the boat begins to sink and Quint slides down the slippery deck into the shark's waiting mouth.

Shaw starred in several other films, including "The Deep," also based on a Benchley novel, and "Black Sunday," before his death in 1978. He suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 51 while filming his last movie "Avalanche Express."

Director Steven Spielberg

"Jaws," only the second feature Spielberg directed, made the director a household name, but he has often lamented how it became his own personal test.

The production was nicknamed "Flaws" because of all the shooting delays and budget over-runs, often due to the three mechanical sharks' frequent malfunctionings. Originally budgeted for $4 million, the final production cost $9 million and filming lasted 159 days instead of the scheduled 55 days.

"I thought my career as a filmmaker was over," Spielberg later said in a newspaper interview.

Instead, the box office success of "Jaws" launched Spielberg as one of the country's most successful directors. "Jaws" along with "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "Jurassic Park" shattered box-office records and "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" earned him Academy Awards for best director

Now 63, with an estimated worth of $3 billion and his own Dreamworks Studio, Spielberg can write his own ticket.