Generally speaking, studios almost never have press events for the DVD/Blu-ray release of a film. But for a film like Jaws – one of the most culturally embraced motion pictures of all time – there is reason for Universal to give a shit. Nearly 40 years old, and still finding new fans and generating profits, Jaws is something special. The Blu-ray of Jaws is coming your way August 14 as part of Universal’s 100th Anniversary series (I will have more to say about the Blu in a few days), and Universal’s PR team actually put something fittingly special together. Instead of occupying a suite in a hotel (the norm for junkets), the Jaws Blu-ray function took place in the town of Amity — or at least the Amity facade that exits as part of Universal Studios’ Backlot Tour. Here, with the shark periodically attacking a tram full of tourists in the background, I interviewed screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, production designer Joe Alves, and J. Michael Roddy, the filmmaker behind the truly wonderful new documentary The Shark Is Still Working.
Even before Steven Spielberg had signed onto Jaws, production designer Joe Alves had already sunk his teeth into the production. He was the very first person that producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown hired to work on the film, and it was his job to realize the world of Jaws, from the fictional town of Amity to the killer shark itself. Alves was nominated for an Oscar for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Though he was also nominated for a Razzie for directing Jaws 3-D.