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The Making of ‘Jaws’ Turned Out To Be An Infamous Disaster

Since its 1975 release, Jaws has earned itself a legion of fans. If you want to put together a crew of people who love this movie, you’re going to need a bigger boat! But did you know that the production almost came to an end multiple times? Jaws had so many development problems it’s a wonder it was made at all! We’ve trawled the seven seas and fished up 30 behind-the-scenes facts about your favorite shark movie, and they’re sure to make you smile like a son of a…

1. The shark is called Bruce, and here's why

Most people just refer to the shark as Jaws, but that’s just the movie’s name! The great white itself actually has another moniker — or at least, its real-life mechanical counterpart does. He’s called Bruce, and there’s a good reason for it.

You see, Bruce is named after Bruce Ramer, a lawyer and friend of director Steven Spielberg. Luckily, he’s got a sense of humor, as he revealed to newsletter Harvard Law Today in 2010. “They never paid me a royalty, that's all I know,” he told them.

2. Building rights limited production

Movie crews can build impressive sets for filming, but back in 1975 there were more limitations, and this was one of them. In fact, building permits prevented the Jaws team from building anything with longevity! So how did they get around this obstacle? 

They filmed in a real-life location, so Amity is actually Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The exceptions were Quint’s shack and the town’s billboard, but even the latter had limitations: Jaws’ crew had to build and deconstruct it on the same day.

3. Someone else was nearly cast as Hooper

It’s tough to imagine anyone else playing marine biologist Matt Hooper, but believe it or not, Richard Dreyfuss hadn’t been Spielberg’s first choice. He’d offered the part to Jeff Bridges, Jon Voight, and Timothy Bottoms first, but they all declined: it was George Lucas to the rescue.

Lucas, who’d worked with Dreyfuss in American Graffiti, suggested him for the part. And since Dreyfuss wanted to redeem himself for what he considered an underwhelming performance in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, he accepted. The rest, as they say, is history.

4. Moby Dick was almost in Jaws

Yep, you read that correctly. Jaws almost featured Moby Dick: the movie that is, not the whale. Quinn’s character debut was supposed to feature him causing a ruckus in a movie theater showing the film. It was shot too, though ironically it never made it onto the big screen.

It turned out that Gregory Peck, who played Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, also had the movie rights, and he didn’t want the Jaws team using it on-screen. So he denied them the scene and left the movie-makers chasing their white whale.