Portal:Horror fiction/Selected article archive/December 2006

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Jaws is a 1975 horrorthriller film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel of the same name. The novel was inspired by the Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916. In the film, the police chief of fictitious Amity Island, a summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from the predations of a huge great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the money-grubbing town council. After several attacks, the police chief enlists the help of a marine biologist and later a professional shark hunter to kill the shark. The film stars Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as marine biologist Matt Hooper, Robert Shaw as the shark hunter Quint, Lorraine Gary as Brody's wife Ellen, and Murray Hamilton as the greedy Mayor Vaughn.

Jaws is regarded as a watershed film in motion picture history, as it is the father of the summer blockbuster movie and one of the first "high concept" films. Due to the film's success in advanced screenings, studio executives decided to distribute it in a much wider release than ever before. The Omen followed suit a year later in the summer of 1976, and then Star Wars one year later in 1977, cementing the notion for movie studios to distribute their big-release action and adventure pictures (commonly referred to as tentpole pictures) during the summer season. The film is also thought to have advanced Spielberg's directorial career. The film was followed by three sequels, none of which Spielberg participated in: Jaws 2 (1978), Jaws 3-D (1983) and Jaws: The Revenge (1987). (continued...)