"Jaws" still churns waters off Martha's Vineyard

Wed Jul 7, 2010 4:27pm EDT
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By Lauren Keiper

MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Massachusetts (Reuters) - After 35 years, people haven't tired of talking about or watching Steven Spielberg's quintessential summer movie "Jaws."

The shark-in-the-water thriller remains competitive on the Hollywood blockbuster list, having raked in over $470 million at box offices worldwide. Adjusted for inflation, the number would be around $1.9 billion today.

Composer John Williams' ominous two-note "shark" theme is known by kids and adults of all ages, whether they've seen the movie or not.

The movie flooded theaters for the first time in June 1975, and the buzz around it remains particularly strong on the original "Jaws" movie set -- the beaches and towns across Martha's Vineyard, which portrayed the fictional Amity Island in the 1975 film based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel.

On the Vineyard, it's almost as easy find a resident who played an extra in the flick as it is to buy an ice-cream cone.

Most extras were kids back then, and paid $5 a day to swim in the ocean, play on the beach, and most importantly, run screaming from the water when Jaws -- more affectionately known by those involved with the movie as Bruce, a mechanical shark -- was approaching.

"It changed scary movies completely," said Tina Miller, a lifelong resident of the Vineyard, who was an extra in the movie alongside her father and brother.

Tom Smith, now a police officer in the Edgartown neighborhood, was a third grader when he was an extra in the original "Jaws," again in junior high when he was cast for the sequel, and he took a week from college to do special security for "Jaws: The Revenge," the fourth film in the series.   Continued...

<p>&ldquo;Beware of Sharks&rdquo; sign on a storefront in Edgartown, Martha&rsquo;s Vineyard, which served as the fictional resort town of Amity Island in the 1975 Steven Spielberg blockbuster &ldquo;Jaws.&rdquo; REUTERS/Lauren Keiper/Handout</p>