Jaws and the New Hollywood Industry

While scholars debate when the auteurist New Hollywood movement ended—it was either Apocalypse Now or Heaven’s Gate—Hollywood began to abandon the auteur centered film for the big blockbuster in the mid 1970s. No film represents that shift more than Jaws.

The film’s theatrical trailer sets the tone using the conventions of the horror film. The trailer also mentions the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley, which was the basis for the feature film. It was also curious that the film was released during the summer months, which was rare for a high profile motion picture in the 1970s. The fact that the film was about a shark attacking beach-goers undoubtedly resonated with audiences looking forward to summer recreation.

Jaws is also the first major Hollywood film to use television advertising. You can see the television spot below.

The television spot is not only a full minute in length, but it also warns the audience that the film might be “too intense for children,” taking advantage of the eight year-old MPAA ratings. Television ads such as this one ran on national television for a three-day period on an all three broadcast networks, when there were only three channels to watch on television, and bombarded audiences with such advertising. This blockbuster marketing helped to “front-load” attendance in the first weeks of the film’s release.

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