How Many ‘Jaws’ Movies Are There?

Apr 4, 2023

The number of horror franchises that exist, with their never-ending sequels, can be mind-boggling. Last year we saw the whopping thirteenth Halloween film be put out. There have been 12 Friday the 13th movies, 11 Hellraiser entries, nine A Nightmare on Elm Street films, eight Child’s Play installments, and so on. A few decades ago there was another horror franchise that was starting to get out of control with its sequels. From 1975 to 1987, four Jaws films were made, with the quality lessening each time, going from an all-time classic with the first to a mocked monstrosity at the end. The number of Jaws films and their subpar quality became such a joke that Back to the Future II famously made fun of it when Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels thirty years in the future to 2015. There, he comes across a movie theater where he’s attacked by a hologram shark advertising the release of “Jaws 19.”

Little did those filmmakers know that no more Jaws films would ever be made. The last film in the franchise, 1987’s Jaws: The Revenge, received atrocious reviews and only brought in $20 million at the box office. These days, studios would push through that, but back then the decision was made that enough was enough. The franchise had to die. Decades later, there have been attempts to reboot the killer great white for a new generation, but Steven Spielberg has stopped it at every turn. That’s probably for the best. While it would be curiously fun to see what crazy story someone could come up with next, we still have four films of differing success, but all entertaining in their own way, to look back on.

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‘Jaws’ (1975)

In 1975, Steven Spielberg changed cinema history with Jaws, a phenomenon that started our love affair with the summer blockbuster and was, for a time, the biggest box office film ever made. Here, Spielberg wasn’t the household name he would soon become. In 1975, Spielberg was just 29 years old and had only two films under his belt. One of those, his first, was the underappreciated Duel, a precursor to Jaws in which an unstoppable semi-truck is like a killer shark. Jaws was a popular novel by author Peter Benchley. It could have been just another schlocky 70s monster movie, but in Spielberg’s hands, it was art. At its core, Jaws is a character study as much as it is a horror picture, due to its fascinating looks at its leads, with Roy Scheider as the aquaphobic police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as the oceanographer Matt Hooper, and Robert Shaw as the bizarre fisherman Quint. Perhaps Jaws’ best scene doesn’t involve the shark at all, but rather Quint’s telling of his horrors onboard the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.

That doesn’t mean that the movie doesn’t have its scary moments – it absolutely does. But for Spielberg, it wasn’t about the number of attacks, but the suspense building up to them. The mechanical shark famously kept breaking down, meaning Spielberg had to find other ways to up the tension. Enter John Williams. The legendary composer’s score, with that simple but effective theme that plays every time the shark is approaching, is scarier than any graphic shark attack. The swelling music, and the chilling finale onboard Quint’s boat, The Orca, makes Jaws one of the most memorable films ever made.

‘Jaws 2′ (1978)

In the 1970s, sequels to popular movies were rare, unlike today, when anything with a halfway decent opening weekend seems to get a follow-up. Three years after Jaws, the story of a killer great white would return with Roy Scheider and Lorraine Gray as Martin Brody’s wife, Ellen. Spielberg, however, would not return. The director’s chair instead went to Jeannot Szwarc, a man who, like Spielberg before, had only made two films prior. Scheider and Gray weren’t the only familiar parts of Jaws 2, for the setting of Martha’s Vineyard as Amity Island would again be used. The sequel almost plays out like a remake, with another shark attacking the beach and Brody having to save the day again. John Williams’ haunting score would also help make this new shark feel as scary as the last.

Jaws 2 couldn’t live up to the original. That was an impossibility going in. None of the new characters are as fun as Quint and Hooper were, but Scheider still gives his all and the attack scenes are still scary. While that boat attack finale from 1975 set something that couldn’t be matched, Jaws 2 still gave audiences a suspenseful ending, with Brody in the water, and the shark coming for him, before it bites into an electrical cable and fries itself to death. It’s a little bit of a goofy-looking image, but far from the cheesiness that the following two films would bring. All in all, it was a success, raking in $78 million to become the sixth-biggest film of 1978.

‘Jaws 3-D’ (1983)

Five years later, the franchise returned, looking to latch onto the 3-D craze of the 80s, the same way Friday the 13th did with its third film in 1982. This film can be commended for not trying to recreate the first two films. Not only did Spielberg not have any involvement, but Scheider and Gray did not return this time either. The third movie was still kept in the family in several ways, however, with Joe Alves, who had worked with Spielberg on The Sugarland Express, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, at the helm. The lead character is Brody’s now adult son, Mike, played by Dennis Quaid, who works as an engineer at the Sea World in Orlando, but wouldn’t you know it, a great white shark enters the park!

There are some fun scenes, but the movie was held back by spectacularly awful special effects. The only saving graces are John Williams’ score (he wasn’t the official composer but the Jaws theme was used), the fresh new setting, and an admirable job done by its cast, including Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Lea Thompson, and Louis Gossett Jr. Still, this wasn’t enough to help the film, which was a colossal failure. The box office dropped off precipitately from the previous film, making only $45 million at the box office.

‘Jaws: The Revenge’ (1987)

Almost half a decade later, the franchise returned for one last time, delivering such a dud that the killer shark would never be seen again. The final film in the quadrilogy tried to go back to its roots, returning the franchise to Amity Island and Martha’s Vineyard. Lorraine Gray even came back as Ellen Brody, but Roy Scheider wouldn’t be beside her, as his character was written off, having died of a heart attack. Lance Guest now fills in as Mike Brody. There is an interesting premise, which sees the Brodys’ youngest son, Sean (Mitchell Anderson), killed by a great white, but everything falls apart after that.

Jaws: The Revenge goes over the top with Ellen Brody now being able to sense when this newest shark is about to attack. This shark also somehow seems to know their family and is out for vengeance. The film makes their fish villain almost human, turning the movie into a silly slasher. The shark might as well be Michael Myers. You would think the unlucky Brody family would really just stay out of the ocean already. Even Michael Caine’s inclusion couldn’t save this one. This film also has the worst-looking shark death scene, making it a complete disaster for most fans. After the failures of this one, the franchise was laid to rest at the bottom of the ocean, where it has stayed since.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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