Friday, October 19, 2007

Movies that changed Cinema: Jaws - The First Blockbuster

On June 20, 1975 when Jaws was limitedly released at 409 theaters, followed by a wider release five days later into 675 theaters the word Blockbuster was still never used to describe a movie. American media needed a new word to describe what this movie did to people: Based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel and inspired by a real event, audiences loved to be horrified by that movie so much that they were literally lined-up around street blocks, causing traffic jams, waiting to see it again and again.

Truly said, with films about aliens and dinosaurs, Spielberg is first and foremost a dreamer, and Alfred Hitchcock was the one to show us how much we love to be scarred. Yet, in the old world where people were still paying money to watch movies more than once Jaws will always be remembered as the one that showed us how much we are willing to pay to be afraid. “See it again, this time with your eyes open” said one of the movie advertisements and, indeed, some people had seen this movie much more than twice.

In his article The Summer Of Jaws, Ralph Grassi who was 11 years old when the movie hit the screens, tells about a guy named Vince Sculli who became known as "Joe Jaws" at the Blaker Theatre and was featured in the local press for seeing the movie 28 times. According to Grassi's story the two nightly performances at the 600 seat Blaker had sold out 28 consecutive times in its first two weeks. The photo above, taken in early July of 75', was published by AC Press and put online by Grassi who says his "life changed" when Jaws came to the Blaker Theatre:

“The build up of this movie overwhelmed me. The commercials alone had me bouncing off the walls with anticipation. Finally the moment had arrived... to wait in line with Mom and Dad for what seemed like forever. The line was the longest I had ever seen for a movie and the theatre was packed to capacity. I can still remember the nervous laughter of the audience after each gruesome death - their reactions carrying well into the next scene on the screen. I walked out of the theatre that night with a new agenda. School had just let out and I had the whole summer ahead of me to fantasize about sharks at the Jersey shore.”

On June 23, 1975, just three days after its official release, the phenomenal success of Spielberg's low-budget shark thriller made the Time cover. According to Wikipedia on its first weekend Jaws grossed more than $7 million, and was the top grosser for the following five weeks.

During its run in theaters, the Jaws beat the $89 million domestic rentals of the reigning box-office champion, The Exorcist - an Academy Award-winning horror thriller and one of the most profitable horror films of all time - and became the first film to reach more than $100 million in theatrical rentals. Eventually, Jaws grossed more than $470 million worldwide (around $1.85 billion in 2006 dollars) and was the highest grossing box-office hit until George Lucas' Star Wars was released two years later.

For a fantastic high-res flashback experience click the above US 1 One Sheet Original Movie Poster (27x41 ROLLED NEVER FOLDED) from that was available for you to purchase for $1595.00 until it was sold out. As they say, “Rolled originals DO EXIST!!” but “Almost impossible to find.”


  1. I actually saw it in 1975 :)

  2. Anonymous28.4.09

    I actually forgot how much i loved this movie.......gota rent it again sometime soon !

  3. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!


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