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As we dive into this year’s summer movie season full of immense, intensive action films, we also ready to cross an important anniversary for something very much responsible for this tradition. This June marks the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s watershed classic, Jaws. To celebrate, the film will make its way back to theaters across the country.
Celebrating the ravenous ruby anniversary of 1975’s Jaws, Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies are teaming up to bring the gigantic consumer of swimmers back to a medium that emphasizes his enormity, on the big screen. Set to hit some 500 theaters nationwide starting on June 21, the presentation will also be prefaced by a specially produced, context-setting introduction to the killer shark classic by TCM host, Ben Mankiewicz.
We’ve seen Hollywood nostalgia manifest itself for these anniversary type re-releases for quite some time by now, going back to the 1997 remastered theatrical release of the Star Wars Original Trilogy. Likewise, just as a vinyl purist often relays the idea that records sound better than digital downloads, the general premise of this re-release is that it serves as an opportunity for younger generations to see Jaws as it was meant to be seen: scaring the piss out of people on a humongous movie screen with John Williams’ pulse-pounding score pushing your sanity to the limits. It’s hard to argue against that notion.
We can always come up with a reason to cough up a hefty ticket price to watch an old classic we’ve already seen several times on the big screen, pointing to it fulfilling historical context. However, with Jaws, that importance is rather exceptional. Besides making the name "Spielberg" synonymous with cinematic wonder, the horror-thriller, for all intents and purposes, set the template for the very idea of the summer blockbuster. Before Jaws the summer was supposedly the time when people experienced their recreation outdoors and stayed away from television while summer reruns played. Likewise, the movie theaters was simply a drop-off point for schlocky cinematic fare.
In 2015, the idea that there was once no such thing as a summer movie season seems inconceivable. Yet, this was the case in 1975 and the surprise success of Jaws chilled moviegoers to the bone, instilling a whole new fear of sharks (galeophobia) into an entire generation who might have otherwise swam in the ocean with joy and impunity. More importantly, it became the paradigm for the very idea of a blockbuster film. Sure, the subsequent arrival of Star Wars was probably the true Big Bang of cinematic splurging, but Jaws tilled the soil from which Star Wars would flourish.
There’s definitely something to be said for experiencing such a film on the big screen to put yourself back into the mindset of moviegoers past. You feel the newness and danger for the first time all over again without having to suffer though the rise of Disco. Summers would never be the same at the theaters, or, for that matter, the beaches. Check out the Fathom site to find a showing near you.