Stephen Spielberg’s movie adaptation of Peter Benchley’s Killer Shark novel Jaws has become the stuff of legends. As well as keeping people out of the water since 1975, the iconic franchise has been getting people into movie theatres. Between the original, its sequels, and re-releases, the Jaws franchise has grossed more than $400 million worldwide. When you adjust those figures for inflation, it actually stacks up well to today’s monster-grossing movies. As noted by CNBC, the 1975 original generated $260 million by selling almost 13 million tickets. At today’s prices, Jaws would have grossed $1.15 billion.
The Jaws Legacy
It’s fair to say attempts to re-release old movies haven’t been hugely successful. A 2020 re-release of Jaws only generated $758,300. However, a 2022 re-release did gross $5.1 million. That suggests there may still be some life in the old shark yet, if the conditions are right. Well, looking at the current entertainment landscape, there’s certainly scope for a new addition to the Jaws franchise. As far as reboots go, there are plenty planned for 2024, including Bad Boys 4 and a new Beverly Hills Cop.
Moreover, Jaws’ legacy continues, spurring a brand new genre of entertainment – underwater horror. Today there seems to be a love of mysterious things in the water elsewhere in the entertainment world. Take the iGaming industry for example – scroll through the latest casino games online and Big Bass Halloween looms large. The aquatic slot game is all about finding hidden, and potentially scary, prizes under the water’s surface. Based on these trends alone, there’s a chance Jaws could make a successful return to our screens. The question, therefore, is: should Hollywood re-launch, reboot, or re-imagine Jaws?
Re-launching the Jaws saga probably wouldn’t work. There are only so many times the legendary shark can emerge from the deep and terrorize a small beach town. In fact, we’ve already seen the story spread over four movies, including the not-particularly successful Jaws: The Revenge (see video above). In this instance, re-launching the series and simply going over the same storyline isn’t going to get audiences jumping for joy.
Rebooting Jaws could work if writers and directors can find a new angle. The key to a successful reboot is to take the core elements and put them into a new but familiar setting. Anyone willing to take on the Jaws reboot could explore the shark’s history. Why did it develop a taste for human blood? Was there an accident at birth? Does it come from a long line of killers created through mistreatment by humans? Is the shark’s behavior the result of an abnormality brought about by a radioactive spill? Rebooting the franchise wouldn’t be easy, but a glimpse into the shark’s past could be a way to do it.
A production company that’s willing to go completely left-field could turn Jaws into a digital predator. Virtual reality (VR) is fast becoming the default medium for entertainment. A new Jaws could be set 100 years in the future when VR technology is at a point where haptic feedback suits have the power to transfer physical sensations onto the user.
That would allow the director to put characters into a VR ocean where the threat of a virtual shark is real. Throw in some artificial intelligence (AI) technology and you could have a super smart shark capable of even more destruction. Yes, that might seem a little bit too wacky, but it could be just what Jaws needs to become relevant again in the modern movie world.