Steven Spielberg's shark turns 45

45 years after its premiere, Shark (1975) continues to be the starting point of two historical appearances for the world of cinema: Steven spielberg and blockbuster cinema. Travel back in time with Cinemascomics to discover the secrets of what was before, during and after a legend of the Seventh Art.

In the early 1970s, Steven spielberg he was barely 24 years old. Only the desire to make a feature film about his short film wandered through the young director's mind. Fireflight (1964), the seed of what would later be Encounters in the third phase (1977). So no one, not even the one considered "King Midas of Hollywood," understood the choice of Universal when he touched the head of the filmmaker of Cincinnati to be in charge of Shark (1975).

Keep in mind that Spielberg, then called "The Boy" in the halls of Universal Pictures, had only directed a few individual chapters of the series ‘Colombo’, TV movies of dubious success like ‘The devil on wheels‘(1971) or movies like‘Crazy evasion‘(1974). But no one could imagine for a moment what Steven Spielberg had in store for Film History.

Shark: fruit of chance and Spielberg's ingenuity

Before the summer of 1974 came, long before Steven Spielberg was between a rock and a hard place With a shoot that could have ended his artistic career in the Seventh Art, long before all this there is a coincidence that is the origin of ‘Shark’. A review of the novel by Peter Bentchley (on which the film is based) had appeared in the magazine Cosmopolitan and it got into the hands of David Brown, the famous producer who passed away in 2010. Chance wanted Brown to read that cultural criticism, buy the rights to the work, and begin to dream of training a shark to make a movie that could succeed at the box office. Many years later he would assure that "if he had read the book twice, he would not have bought the rights".

His impulsive madness would end up being a success, although in the end no wild animal was ever trained. How could it be otherwise, Spielberg had to hit the key. The filmmaker insisted on hiring the creator of the mar squid20,000 leagues under water‘(1954). This is where the figure of Bob Mattey, who accepted the job despite being retired and He handed Spielberg three sharks up to expectations. After winning the favor of the producers of Universal Pictures, the "King Midas of Hollywood" took a giant step for the world of cinema: be determined to roll in the open sea. He got it.

Historical frame of 'Shark' (1975).

A complicated shoot full of impossible perfections

But Spielberg did not know that When you face the real world, the magic of cinema has no place. He soon learned this lesson, when the entire shoot moved to the Martha’s Vineyard Island (United States) on May 2, 1974. This is how the director recalls: “I had no idea what the ocean really was and I was very naive about the power of the elements. My arrogance in this regard was foolhardy, but back then I was too young to know that shooting a movie in the ocean rather than in a Hollywood pool was reckless. ”

Spielberg's recklessness, daring, and obsessions ran into a wall of salt water who put the filming in check and set off alarms for Universal Pictures, who had put too much money on the director of Cincinnati. The sharks Bob Mattey had created they weighed about 12 tons and were not prepared to suffer the excess and wear and tear of adverse weather conditions and location for the material with which they were made. The clock was ticking and the fifty-five days that had been scheduled for the filming of 'Shark' they passed with the speed of life.

At this point, Both the film's producers and actors and technicians were fed up with Steven Spielberg and his damn sharks.. Robert Shaw he gave himself to the drink while Richard Dreyfuss I made him jokes in bad taste, and even Roy Scheider He threw the food into the air in a fit of fury. The initial budget of five million doubled and Spielberg's prestige hung by a thread: "I thought my film career was going to end there, because I heard rumors that I would never work again," recalled the director.

The answer was ahead, but only Spielberg could see it

Once again, it would be Spielberg and only Spielberg the one who found the treasure of Willy “el Tuerto”. Taking the bull by the horns and accepting that desperate measures must be taken in moments of despair, the "King Midas of Hollywood" accepted that the shark would not work and gave the movie a spin. "I had no other option, just imagine the movie without the shark," said the director, who later assured that the first thing he did after accepting this reality was to ask: "What would Alfred Hitchcok do in a situation like this?"

With Carl Gottlieb in the cave retouching the script and Spielberg on the shoot saving the furniture of a team that hated him, the director filming ended 159 days later after making the decision to hide the shark during scenes as long as possible. At that time, the Cincinnati filmmaker left the set, ended the film, and locked himself in Verna Fields for the purpose of mounting all the scenes.

Maverick to the end, Spielberg kept turning the material he had around. His dissatisfaction was prolonged, leading the director to discuss this fact with those responsible for Universal Pictures. The answer was emphatic: the producer was not going to drop anything else from his pocket. Taking advantage of Verna Fields spacious garden in the San Fernando Valley, built a plastic pool into which he poured powdered milk to recreate the ocean and shoot the iconic scene from Ben Gardner's head.

Image from the filming of 'Tiburon' (1975)

An oceanic promotion: the birth of the blockbuster

With all the audiovisual material in their hands, Universal Pictures prepared two pre-releases: one in Dallas and one in Los Angeles. The film producer sovereignly found that 'Shark' was going to be an absolute hit at the box office, and they were not wrong.

However, the film had to run into the last obstacle before reaching the movie theater billboards. The huge delay in filming caused the Christmas season to pass and, at that time, summer was considered a poor season for the box office. But two masterpieces by Spielberg and an unfortunate coincidence were the boom that Universal took advantage of to amass a number of benefits impossible to imagine at that time.

First and second, Universal Pictures and Steven Spielberg played two historic tricks: launch a television campaign (one of the first in the history of cinema) worth 600,000 euros and premiere the film simultaneously in 450 theaters (What is known today in the sector as "premiere by saturation"). The sad fate of a bather in the san diego beach after being attacked by a white shark it would be the drop that filled the glass. People launched into the cinema automatically, causing a new cultural phenomenon on the big screen: the birth of blockbuster, the emergence of film blockbusters.

Not in vain, 'Shark' is one of the movies with highest profitability in film history: $ 470 million. Universal Pictures would no longer remember the ordeal that Steven Spielberg went through to carry out a project so ambitious that it would cause a transformation, a complete revolution in the way of making, conceiving, seeing and interpreting cinema.

Spielberg's heritage

Spielberg recounted in his day that the inheritance that takes from 'Shark' It is not only economic, but it served the "King Midas of Hollywood" to make you a more humble director and especially in appease your imagination when it comes to addressing reality. The shark in the movie may not have been real, it might even have to be kept out of view, but the bite that Steven Spielberg gave to the cinema still continues to bear fruit.

Steven Spielberg and his beloved creation


The panic scenes of 'Shark' they were filmed in documentary style: Spielberg said nothing to the bathers who passed by and shouted “Shark! Shark!" by public address. More real impossible. Be careful when you go to the beach, it could be Spielberg nearby.
One day, while filming on the high seas, a white shark appeared, unleashing fear throughout the production team. Many technicians made the decision to leave the film and the tension on the set continued to increase after this.
Do you know what the promotional phrase of 'Shark'? "Go check it out before you go swimming." Guilty: Steven Spielberg.
When George Lucas visited Universal Pictures studios in Hollywood to see the mechanical shark that was used in the movie and that is kept there, the director of ‘Star wars‘Had an unpleasant accident: he put his head in the shark's mouth, having the bad luck that it closed over his face. Fortunately, nothing serious happened, but the operators had to take quite an interesting time to get Spielberg's filmmaker friend out of there without harming the shark.
Did you know that Steven Spielberg's voice can be heard in the movie? It is the voice that hears the brody's wife when you try to contact the Quint's boat.

And if you have been wanting more, we leave you the documentary ‘Shark from within’

Price: € 30.50 https: //

Title : SharkURL: AmazonPublication date : 1975-06-20Synopsis: In the waters of a small coastal town in the eastern United States, a huge shark attacks several people. Fearing the repercussions that this incident could have on the tourist business, the mayor refuses to close the beaches and spread the news. But a new shark attack, on the beach itself, ends the life of a bather. Terror then seizes everyone; so a veteran shark hunter, scientist and local police chief team up to capture the shark.Director (s): Steven spielbergCast: Roy Scheider
Robert Shaw
Richard Dreyfuss
Lorraine Gary
Murray Hamilton
Carl Gottlieb
Jeffrey C. Kramer

David Lorao


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