'Jaws' Turns 40: 5 Ways It Changed Movies Forever

"Jaws," which was released 40 years ago, will return to theaters.

ByABC News
June 20, 2015, 6:26 AM

— -- Forty years ago today, the concept of the summer blockbusters was launched with the release of "Jaws."

Based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark, the Steven Spielberg-directed classic premiered on movie screens in June 1975 and will soon be returning to the big screen. Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal Pictures will present special screenings in nearly 500 theaters around the country starting Sunday.

For fans, it's a chance to once again see the movie that changed everything in Hollywood, from how movies are made to when they are released. For those younger viewers who haven't had the pleasure yet, it's a chance to see why "Jaws" is considered one of the most influential movies in film history, not to mention get the living daylights scared out of you. Just in time for beach season!

Here then are five ways that "Jaws" changed movies forever:

Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw are seen on board a boat in a still from the film, "Jaws," directed by Steven Spielberg, 1975.

Bigger Budgets

By most accounts, director Steven Spielberg feared he'd never work in Hollywood again after wrapping "Jaws."

The shooting schedule ballooned from 55 to 159 days, and he went 300 percent over budget, spending $12 million or nearly four times the average production cost for a film in 1975.

By today's standards, "Jaws" would cost only $40 million, considerably less than the average cost of a studio film. But back then only epic films such as "Cleopatra," which nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox in 1963, "Spartacus" and "Lawrence of Arabia" boasted outsize budgets.

Advertised on TV

Before the summer of '75, Hollywood studios rarely advertised their movies on television. That changed with "Jaws."

For three nights preceding the film's release, Universal saturated the networks with $700,000 worth of 30-second trailers during primetime, and it paid off. "Jaws" quickly surpassed the $100-million mark at the box office, breaking previous records, and went on to gross over $260 million in the United States alone.

Wide Opening

The way "Jaws" was released also changed how studio films were released.

Prior to "Jaws," Hollywood would slowly roll out release of its films over several months. The one exception was "The Godfather" in 1972, which Paramount opened in five theaters at once before moving to 316 theaters the following week.

"Jaws," on the other hand, opened in 465 theaters, and in its first week had already raked in $7 million. By the second week, it had recouped its production costs, and in a mere 78 days had dethroned "The Godfather" at the box office.