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Jaws returns to take a bite out of the summer box-office

It changed the way movies were marketed.

It changed the Hollywood landscape.

It changed the careers of everyone involved, not the least of whom was a young director named Steven Spielberg, at the helm of only his second feature film.

And, much to the later chagrin of author Peter Benchley, it changed how people perceived sharks.

It, of course, is Jaws – and this year marks the 40 th anniversary since it burst upon cinema screens, becoming the biggest box-office hit of its time (and, until Star Wars two years later, of all time) and essentially inaugurating what has come to be known as the summer movie season.

Fathom Events has teamed with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE) to unleash the 1975 classic blockbuster Jaws on screens nationwide for a special commemorative showing, with two shows this Sunday and encore screenings Tuesday.

More than 500 cinemas are participating, including the Brassfield Cinema 10 (2101 New Garden Rd.) and Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave.) in Greensboro, and at The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX (5601 University Parkway) in Winston-Salem.

“Jaws is a classic thriller enjoyed by generations and it is ready for a comeback,” according to Kymberli Frueh- Owens, vice president of programming for Fathom Events, in an official statement. “Movie buffs will love seeing their favorite killer shark larger than life on the big screen.”

What should be a serene summer in the peaceful seaside community of Amity is shattered when a great white shark begins preying on the populace, prompting police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to enlist the help of scientist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and local shark expert Quint (Robert Shaw) in an effort to rid the region of this rampaging menace.

Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel Jaws became a smash best-seller upon publication, and producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown – who were still riding high from 1973 Best Picture Oscar winner The Sting – entrusted the project to Spielberg, who had recently completed his feature debut The Sugarland Express (1974) for the producing duo.

As has become movie lore by now, Jaws went over-budget (the end cost was almost $10 million – can you believe it?), over-schedule, and the mechanical shark proved the most temperamental talent involved. Sometimes it would work, oftentimes it wouldn’t … In addition to its astronomical grosses, Jaws earned Academy Awards for Best Editing, Best Sound and for John Williams’ unforgettable (and much-parodied) score, as well as a nomination for Best Picture.

The success of the film spawned countless rip-offs and imitations (Orca, Tentacles, Piranha), as well as three sequels, each one more inferior than the last.

Yet to this day, 40 years later, the legacy of Jaws continues to reverberate among moviegoers worldwide. The film remains one of the most beloved thrillers of all time.

The “TCM Presents: Jaws 40 th Anniversary” screenings will also include a special introduction by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, in which he’ll likely cover much of the same ground I’ve just covered in this column. !

WANNA go?

Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, with encore screenings at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets at Brassfield Cinema 10 are $4.90 (all seats) for the 2 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday screenings, $6.90 (general admission) and $4.90 (seniors and children) for the 7 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday screenings. Tickets at Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 are $13.34 (all seats, all screenings). Tickets at The Grand 18 Winston- Salem IMAX are $12.50 (all seats, all screenings). For advance tickets or more information, check out www.FathomEvents.com.

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