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On this day in history, June 20, 1975, the movie "Jaws," directed by Steven Spielberg, opened in theaters in the United States. 

"Jaws" tells the fictional story of a great white shark that terrorizes a New England beach resort town. The movie was a blockbuster and the highest-grossing film in movie history until it was outpaced by 1977’s "Star Wars," according to History.com.

The iconic film — which made people think twice about going into the water, according to Slashfilms.com — won three Oscars, for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Sound. 

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The movie was a career breakthrough for director Spielberg, then 27 years old. It spawned several sequels, notes History.com.

Actor Roy Scheider played police chief Martin Brody, of the fictional resort town Amity, who became embroiled in a battle against a man-eating shark. 

Jaws shark

Harpooned many times by a fisherman bent on its destruction, a great white shark surfaces in an attempt to wreck a fishing boat in a scene from the 1975 film "Jaws." (Universal/Getty Images)

Joining him in the fight is marine biologist Matt Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss, and professional shark-hunter Quint, played by Robert Shaw, according to Britannica.

The film was based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, released in 1973. 

Film producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown were given a copy of the novel "and were hooked," says Collider.com.

"They knew it had the makings for a great movie, so they went through their checklist. The story? Good. Can we afford to make it? We can't not afford to make it, so yes," the site continues.

"Filming, which took place on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, was plagued by delays and technical difficulties."

The producers bought the movie rights for $175,000, before the novel was even released to the public. 

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"The question they should have asked? Can it be made," says Collider.

"Filming, which took place on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, was plagued by delays and technical difficulties, including malfunctioning mechanical sharks," said Britannica.

Universal/Getty Images

Actors Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss stand next to a giant man-eating great white shark with a hook piercing it in a scene from the 1975 film "Jaws." (Getty Images)

At over 100 days of shooting (159 versus the planned 55) and a budget of $12 million — which was 300% over the initial allocation and four times the cost of an average film in 1975 — the movie was a challenge to make.

Spielberg also made the decision to film on the ocean, "a first for major features," says Collider.

"The theme from the 1975 shark-infested blockbuster, ‘Jaws,' is thrilling, terrifying, but most of all, impressive."

Features set on the ocean were "typically filmed on set in a large tank, or in shallower waters," but never on the ocean itself, that site also says.

"Bad weather, sailboats that drifted into frame and soaking wet cameras" caused many delays. 

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"One time, the Orca [the shark-hunting boat] began to sink while the actors were on board," Collider notes.

Composed by John Williams, the eerie movie soundtrack is today part of American pop culture. 

Jaws movie poster

The "Jaws" movie poster from 1975, the year the film was released. (LMPC via Getty Images)

"Two notes. That’s it. ‘Duuuunnnn duun.’ Two notes are all it takes for listeners’ hearts to drop into their stomachs, and for their goose-bumping flesh to break out in a cold sweat," said American Songwriter. 

"The theme from the 1975 shark-infested blockbuster, ‘Jaws,' is thrilling, terrifying, but most of all, impressive."

"Jaws" spawned three sequels, each of which failed to match the success of the original, says Screamrant.com.

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"Despite the universally beloved nature of the original film, the sequels have truly stained the franchise," that site says.  

"While the second and third films in the franchise were underwhelming at best, it was the fourth film, ‘Jaws: The Revenge,’ that truly took things too far, being labeled one of the worst movies ever made and putting a final nail in the franchise's coffin."

Actor Robert Shaw, who played shark-hunter Quint, in a scene from "Jaws."

Actor Robert Shaw, who played shark-hunter Quint, in a scene from "Jaws." (Universal Pictures/Getty Images)

Steven Spielberg "truly regrets" that the bloodthirsty portrayal of great white sharks in "Jaws" contributed to a sharp decline in the animals’ population, said Smithsonian Magazine, quoting the director from a 2022 interview with the BBC. 

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"That’s one of the things I still fear," the director continued, "not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sport fishermen that happened after 1975."

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The legacy of "Jaws" is that it set the precedent for the term "summer blockbuster," according to multiple sources.

"The summer blockbuster was born on June 20, 1975, when ‘Jaws’ opened wide," wrote the Financial Times’ Nigel Andrews.

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He added, "In the years after ‘Jaws,’ the entire release calendar changed."

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