Summer movies, as we know them, began 40 years ago. For decades, the warm-weather months had been a dumping ground for Hollywood’s genre fare and B-movies. But in 1975, a different kind of movie was unleashed in theaters. Jaws was like chum to the media and movie audiences, who couldn’t get enough of Steven Spielberg’s terrifying adaptation of Peter Benchley’s best-seller. It became an instant and defining blockbuster, with repeat customers who still jumped with fright at the scariest moments—even though John Williams’ score warned them that danger lurked beneath the waves.
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On June 21, fans of Jaws will have another opportunity to see the classic on the big screen, as it was intended. Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies, and Universal Pictures will present special screenings in nearly 500 theaters around the country. TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz will provide a special introduction for an afternoon and evening showing, as well as an encore presentation on June 24. “Jaws is a classic thriller enjoyed by generations and it is ready for a comeback,” said Fathom Events vice president of programming Kymberli Frueh-Owens. “Movie buffs will love seeing their favorite killer shark larger than life on the big screen. No risk of shark bite!”
There’s the famous anecdote that Spielberg tells how he knew Jaws was going to be a huge hit only after a member of the audience rushed out of a preview screening in the middle of the movie, threw up in the lobby… and then hurried back in to watch the rest. For those types of Jaws nerds, fans who rightfully treat Quint’s Indianapolis soliloquoy with Shakespearean reverance and already know every behind-the-scenes story about the near-disastrous making of the film on and around Martha’s Vineyard, the June screenings will be a celebration of a movie that helped define their childhood. And for the younger generation, which may not have been introduced to Jaws yet despite frequent Blu-ray editions and constant cable showings, it’s about time to dip their toes in the water, and finally see why Williams simple score still has the power to get swimmers out of the water.