The Art of Making an Entrance: Jaws (1975, dir. Steven Spielberg)
“That summer, Paramount released Jaws in hundreds of theaters across the nation, an unheard-of practice. It also unleashed a massive - and expensive - national TV ad campaign, also unprecedented. Jaws went on to earn a then-staggering $129 million. The summer thrill-ride blockbuster was born.
Jaws changed the business forever, as the studios discovered the value of wide breaks - the number of theaters would rise to one thousand, two thousand, and more by the next decade - and massive TV advertising, both of which increased the cost of marketing and distribution, diminishing the importance of print reviews, making it virtually impossible for a film to build slowly, finding its audience by dint of mere quality. As costs mounted, the willingness to take risks diminished proportionately. Moreover, Jaws whet corporate appetites for big profits quickly, which is to say, studios wanted every film to be Jaws.
In a sense, Spielberg was the Trojan horse through which the studios began to reassert their power. As Spielberg admits, ‘My influences, in a very perverse way, were executives like Sid Sheinberg, and producers like Zanuck and Brown, rather than my contemporaries in my circle in the 70s. I was truly more of a child of the establishment than I was a product of USC or NYU or the Francis Coppola protege clique.’”
-Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls