The modern blockbuster as we know it can be traced right back to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, which turned the entire industry on its head. Up until that point, most major movies were slowly rolled out across the country over a period of weeks or months, but the classic shark attack thriller deviated from the norm with record-breaking results.
A full-on marketing blitz and a simultaneous wide release on as many screens as possible have been standard industry practice for decades, but it was revolutionary when Jaws did it first. To give you an indication of how successful it was; a box office tally of $477 million made Spielberg’s breakout feature the highest-grossing film in the history of cinema at the time, and that total equates to over $2.4 billion when adjusted for inflation.
Naturally, a franchise was born, but the director didn’t want any part of it. Jeannot Szwarc ended up helming the sequel, which performed admirably after hauling in $208 million based largely on goodwill to its predecessor, but it wasn’t a patch on a stone-cold classic first installment that had people around the world afraid to go back in the water.
Undeterred, Jaws 3-D landed in the summer of 1983, but even the gimmick of an extra dimension wasn’t enough to stop the financial returns from being more than cut in half. As of today, the first three entries in the four-film Jaws series are available to stream on Netflix, but it would be safe to assume that one is set to perform a whole lot better than the others.