Spielberg Only Made Jaws Because Its First Director Was Fired For The Most Hilarious Reason

Spielberg Only Made Jaws Because Its First Director Was Fired For The Most Hilarious Reason
Image credit: Legion-Media

Do you know the difference between a shark and a whale? The first director of Jaws didn't.

48 years ago, Steven Spielberg 's Jaws premiered, the iconic film-catastrophe that, along with Star Wars, marked the beginning of the blockbuster era.

But it turns out that the movie was originally supposed to be made by a different director, who was fired for… confusing a shark with a whale.

Producer Richard D. Zanuck told a frankly ridiculous story about how a lunch with Dick Richards, the first director attached to Jaws, convinced him to change the director:

"Richards […] says, 'Now, this is wonderful to have this small town terrified by this whale.' […] He said, 'Then when the whale attacks the boat…' […] We called […] and said, 'Everything went great, but we want to get rid of the director because he thinks it's a whale!'"

The producer's decision is understandable – it is simply dangerous to put a movie about shark in the hands of a director who does not know the difference between a whale and a possessor of a deadly pair of jaws.

The premiere of Spielberg-directed Jaws was not just the release of "any movie" – it was almost a national event, in which everyone who saw the movie's promotion and heard the soundtrack participated.

The film's music won it one of three Academy Awards, the other two being for editing and sound. Jaws was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

However, Spielberg's blockbuster easily outperformed Forman's movie and other competitors at the box office, becoming the first American movie to gross more than $235 million, with Jaws' final total box office being $470 million.

Jaws broke down the barriers between serious and mainstream cinema and marked the beginning of the end of the "New Hollywood," paving the way for films like Star Wars or Indiana Jones and creating an entire market for blockbuster films.

In the years since its premiere, many changes have been observed, the cause of which turned out to be Spielberg's movie.

It set genre standards for horror movies and created new approaches to film promotion.

The commercial success allowed Spielberg to gain creative independence and to work on risky projects.

Source: Death by Films