I’m the dude in the shark costume at the Jaws 40th Anniversary
Ladies and Gentleman it doesn’t get that much better for fan boys of Jaws like myself. There I was in my shark costume paying tribute to Bruce himself (the Shark), not knowing where the night would take me. I just knew I had to get to the Egyptian Theater. 618 seats and a 35mm screen, the way Jaws was meant to be viewed. Hearing my friend say, “Dude, it’s packed,” never made me grin bigger. I walked the streets of Hollywood in my kickass shark costume because God forbid we pay for Hollywood parking. I yelled "Shark Week" repeatedly, got a few high fives and thumbs up from people driving by.
At the Egyptian Theater, a wave of Jaws fans swam into the building like sharks ready for our first bite and I realized I’m the only one in proper attire. People stared and laughed, but recognized what the night was all about.
I walked past an old man at a table with a bunch of Jaws books, not knowing who he was or why he was there at the time. Only to find out later that he was Carl Gottleib, co-writer of the screenplay for Jaws. Just before the movie started, we were told that there will be a special question and answering session with Carl Gottlieb, who I then realized was signing autographs in the lobby.
The lights went out and audience screamed and applauded.
A rogue menace swims through the ocean towards Amity Island looking for its first meal after traveling the seas. You too would be hungry after traveling. I’m sure Bruce, the shark, is thinking, “If only there were a bunch of drunk teenagers at a bon fire I can crash. I hope they want to skinny dip. Oh wait, here comes one now.” Enter Chrissie Watkins, legendary shark victim.
Every character entrance was greeted with applause as well as applause for classic lines such as “You’re going to need a bigger boat”, or “Here’s to swimming with bowlegged women”, or “I think I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass.” I literally geeked out on these quotes. My friend was probably annoyed by my telling him of each important shark scene that went down and where it was filmed and how they did that particular scene. I couldn’t keep myself from sharing Jaws knowledge and I probably would have with any stranger next to me as well. After all, I’m the dude in the shark costume.
I get anxious at the final scene where Chief Brody somehow shoves an air tank into Bruce, the shark’s, mouth. I knew my hero, the shark, was about to be blown up and that the movie was about to end. But my memorable experience continued after that.
Carl Gottlieb was introduced after the movie ends and the final, roaring applause finally dies down. I had so many questions to ask him but I knew I’d only get one shot. My question had a lot to do with Steven Spielberg’s frustration with filming Jaws and how Bruce kept breaking down and the long periods they had waiting in the ocean for this mechanical beast to work. I mean the shark was never tested in the ocean, and the ocean was eating this shark alive. I asked, “With the frustrations Steven had with making Jaws and how the shark kept breaking down but with the overall success of Jaws did you want to influence Steven to make Jaws 2 as well?” Carl replied, “Nobody wanted to make Jaws 2 after what happened.” The crowd laughed.
As I tried to make my way out of the theater room, I felt like a fish in a school of 617 other fish trying to avoid the feeding frenzy. Jaws fan wanted to take a picture of me, which was a great experience, but I wanted to own Carl Gottlieb’s book to add to my Jaws collection. (A must read for any Jaws fan or aspiring move maker.) What better way to see a classic than at the Egyptian Theater on a gorgeous 35mm screen. I am looking forward to Jaw’s 50th Anniversary in 10 years and when my daughter turns 10. I think this will be the best way for her to see it. After all, this movie does have a PG rating.