Steven Spielberg Reveals His Big Jaws Regret

Jaws on a rampage
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Among Steven Spielberg’s many movies that remain an iconic part of cinema’s history is 1975’s Jaws. The thriller is not only coveted as one of the best horror films of all time, Quentin Tarantino recently named it his pick for “the greatest movie ever made.” Despite all the praise Jaws has received over nearly 50 years, Spielberg did speak to one regret he has about making the movie. 

Over the years, some have argued that Jaws was so effective that it perhaps negatively impacted the livelihood of sharks on our planet, which are greatly threatened with extinction across various species of the marine animal. Spielberg recently spoke to this aspect of Jaws, saying this: 

I truly and to this day regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film. I really, truly regret that. That's one of the things I still fear. Not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sports fishermen that happened after 1975.

While speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Steven Spielberg shared his thoughts about Jaws possibly contributing to the decline in the world’s population of sharks, which along with rays have fallen by 71% as a result of overfishing since the early ‘70s. The filmmaker’s words were in response to his thoughts on if he was theoretically on a desert island surrounded by shark-infested waters. 

While audiences might have trouble going to sleep at night after watching the terror of Jaws, it sounds like Spielberg experiences it on a different level. He’s regretful that his movie, along with Peter Benchley’s original novel, are somewhat responsible for one-third shark species being among Earth’s most threatened with extinction, per the IUCN red list

As Oliver Crimmen, fish curator at the Natural History Museum in London, shared with BBC in 2015, he saw a “big change happen in the public and scientific perception of sharks” when the Jaws book and then the movie became a major part of our pop culture. While it’s tough to lay the blame on Jaws for sure, it was certainly bad press for sharks, which are routinely characterized as vengeful and bloodthirsty creatures thanks to the creature feature. 

Benchley, who passed away in 2006, even once said say he’d never write the same book in the present knowing that sharks don’t target human beings or hold grudges, and following the success of Jaws, he spent his life campaigning for sharks. The draw of Jaws also contributed to spawning entertainment like Shark Week, that continued this year with Air Jaws: Top Guns too. 

As Spielberg’s remorse regarding Jaws is made known, the director’s latest film is The Fabelmans, which is now playing in theaters and available to rent. The movie received positive reviews, including from CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell, who called it a “masterpiece.” The movie is inspired by the director’s own coming-of-age journey to become the iconic filmmaker he is today. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.