Skip to main content

"Jaws" still churns waters off Martha's Vineyard


MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Massachusetts (Reuters) - After 35 years, people haven't tired of talking about or watching Steven Spielberg's quintessential summer movie "Jaws."
The shark-in-the-water thriller remains competitive on the Hollywood blockbuster list, having raked in over $470 million at box offices worldwide. Adjusted for inflation, the number would be around $1.9 billion today.
Composer John Williams' ominous two-note "shark" theme is known by kids and adults of all ages, whether they've seen the movie or not.
The movie flooded theaters for the first time in June 1975, and the buzz around it remains particularly strong on the original "Jaws" movie set -- the beaches and towns across Martha's Vineyard, which portrayed the fictional Amity Island in the 1975 film based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel.
On the Vineyard, it's almost as easy find a resident who played an extra in the flick as it is to buy an ice-cream cone.
Most extras were kids back then, and paid $5 a day to swim in the ocean, play on the beach, and most importantly, run screaming from the water when Jaws -- more affectionately known by those involved with the movie as Bruce, a mechanical shark -- was approaching.
"It changed scary movies completely," said Tina Miller, a lifelong resident of the Vineyard, who was an extra in the movie alongside her father and brother.
Tom Smith, now a police officer in the Edgartown neighborhood, was a third grader when he was an extra in the original "Jaws," again in junior high when he was cast for the sequel, and he took a week from college to do special security for "Jaws: The Revenge," the fourth film in the series.
"The people who were involved in the movie are proud of that," he said. "It's part of the identity of those people."

NO CRASS PROMOTION

"Jaws" is also part of the Martha's Vineyard brand. The lore surrounding the film draws fans from across the globe for a glimpse at the beach where young Alex Kintner was snapped from his raft, or the empty plot in the sleepy fishing village of Menemsha where crews built shark-hunter Quint's cottage.
Martha's Vineyard, a 45-minute ferry ride off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for its low-key, private style and remains a sought-after vacation destination.
Scenic beaches, spectacular sunsets and vacationing U.S. presidents have long been a feature, but "Jaws" has contributed steadily over the years to an economy reliant on tourism dollars.
There are no stands hawking "Jaws" t-shirts near the ferry dock, nor billboards pronouncing it the home of the famous Great White shark. There isn't even an official tour of filming locations.
But if prompted, local taxi drivers will eagerly offer anecdotes from the summer of 1974 and point out "Jaws bridge," where the giant shark famously swam into the pond.
The most widely publicized celebration to date was five years ago, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the movie's release. The island hosted JAWSfest 2005, a three-day celebration with an open air screening that attracted more than 4,000 visitors and island residents.
Fans are clamoring for another such event. And island businesses, eager to recover from a dip in tourism during the recession, would be eager for the boost.
Joe Badot, general manager at The Harborside Inn in Edgartown, said occupancy during JAWSfest climbed to nearly 90 percent, when a typical June would fill just half of his 90 rooms.
Susan Sigel Goldsmith, co-director of JAWSfest, would like to see the next "Jaws" event as a tribute to the cast and crew. "These people have changed our lives, our island, our culture," said Goldsmith.

ISLANDERS TO THE RESCUE

Documenting the impact of the film on island history has been a full-time job over the last two years for Matt Taylor, who is polishing a 300-page account of how "Jaws" was made.
The book, titled "Martha's Vineyard Remembers Jaws," includes about 800 never before published photographs of the production snapped by islanders, and 65 interviews with those closest to the filming. It is set for release this fall.
Taylor said readers will be surprised to learn about the impact island residents had on the film's success, pointing particularly to contributions from Susan and Lynn Murphy.
Lynn Murphy, a Vineyard marine mechanic, was hired to help run the special effects in the water.
"They were having a terrible time with it until Lynn came along and set everything straight," said Taylor. "Lynn, and his knowledge of how to do things on the water, really saved the production."
The photos in his book were compiled by "Jaws" fan and memorabilia collector Jim Beller who, despite technology advances that make some of the "Jaws" special effects look rudimentary 35 years later, isn't worried the movie will lose its luster for the "Avatar" generation of fans.
"If you love a good suspenseful movie, a movie that has everything, or you are a Steven Spielberg fan, see it," he said. "If you like swimming -- think twice."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Star Wars VII Movie Poster - Every End Is A New Beginning

Just saw this Star Wars VII movie poster on Kyle Newman's Facebook feed.  The poster is by Lyndon Berresford and Paul Bateman. 
I am loving this.  Who do you think the two characters are?  Lando and Leia?  Han and Leia's children?

Have you seen other Star Wars VII movie posters?  Let me know.

Rob Wainfur
@welshslider


THE BEARDED TRIO ON FACEBOOK
THE BEARDED TRIO ON TWITTER
I need your Star Wars memories for a book

Did Paul Freeman Accidentally Eat A Fly In Raiders of the Lost Ark?

The Famous Indiana Jones Fly In Belloq's Mouth Scene.  Did It Really Happen? I've always wondered if Paul Freeman unintentionally consumed a fly in this scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark?  It's the scene where Indiana Jones shouts down to Bellosh...I mean Belloq and threatens to blow up the ark.  Did a fly go in his mouth?

I remember watching this scene back in the early eighties and my ten year old mind thought he definitely had a snack while filming.  I recall talking about 'flygate' in my school playground at the time and the general consensus with my friends was that Freeman definitely had a sneaky snack.

Paul Freeman talks about the famous 'fly' scene in an interview with TheIndyExperience.com and settled 'flygate:'

This is a bit of a dicey question so don’t get too upset. (Laughs) A movie’s always got bloopers in it, some have a lot, and some only have three or four. And the most remarkable blooper was right before the opening of the Ark scene.…

Pinewood Studios To Expand To The Usa

BBC News have reported that Pinewood Studios are to expand to the USA.  This is great news for the famous studio that is rich in movie history.


UK film studio Pinewood Shepperton has announced plans to build its first sound stages in the United States. The Pinewood Atlanta complex will be built on 288 acres of land south of Atlanta, Georgia, as a joint venture with a US investment company. Georgia has been among the US states drawing film-making away from Hollywood with tax incentives in recent years. The deal is the latest sign of expansion at Pinewood, the home of the James Bond franchise. Earlier this month it announced a joint venture with a Chinese media group, potentially giving it access to the fast-growing Chinese market.
Read the full article here.

THE BEARDED TRIO ON FACEBOOK
THE BEARDED TRIO ON TWITTER
THE BEARDED TRIO ON GOOGLE+