Once again, I plan to share the article with you all in bullet points. Copying and pasting because once again, some of these details are so fine and important that I won't be able to reword them. I'll share the article link at the end of the month. But just know that Brian Raftery is the writer of said article. So all the credit goes to him!
- Benchley considered dozens of titles for his novel — including Leviathan Rising, Dreadful Silence, Dark White, and The Edge of Gloom — before settling on Jaws at the last minute. “No one knows what [Jaws] means,” the author later joked, “but at least it’s short.”
- Producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown spent $150,000 for the film rights to Jaws, and agreed to allow Benchley to take a few stabs at the screenplay. His versions were never used, but he remained involved with the production: In a letter to Zanuck in 1974, he described an early script of Jaws — which depicted the shark as a rogue, “world-girdling maniac” out for blood — as an “insane farce.”
- Jaws had sold 5.5 million copies by the time the movie debuted, but there was at least one non-fan among the cast. “Jaws was not a novel,” Robert Shaw once told a reporter. “It was a story written by a committee, a piece of s—.”
- Numerous storylines from Benchley’s novel were jettisoned from the script, including a romance between Elaine Brody and Hooper; Mayor Larry Vaughn’s financial problems and dealings with the Mafia; and Hooper’s death during the final Orca expedition.
- At one point during preproduction, Spielberg wrote his own draft of Jaws; his version introduces Quint at a movie theater in Amity, where he’s watching the 1956 film adaptation of Moby-Dick, and guffawing throughout: “People get up and start leaving the theater until he’s all alone in the theater,” Spielberg later explained, “and [Quint’s] laughter can be heard right down the street.”