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Steven Spielberg admits he thought one of his critically acclaimed films could fail

Steven Spielberg wasn’t convinced that one of his most renowned films would succeed when it was first released.

The lauded director said that he had his doubts about whether his 1975 classic Jaws would resonate with audiences.

Based on a 1974 novel by Peter Benchley, Jaws starred Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody who works with a marine biologist (played by Richard Dreyfuss) and a shark hunter (Robert Shaw) to catch a shark terrorising the beach of a resort town.

The film is often regarded as one of Speilberg’s best, and won three Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Sound. It was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost out to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

In an interview with W for the magazine’s Director’s Issue, Spielberg admitted that he “never would have guessed that so many people would have gone to see” the film.

“In my mind, the shark looked dumb,” said the filmmaker. “When I went to the first preview, in Dallas, and people were screaming and popcorn was flying at the screen. My first feeling was, ‘Oh my God!’

“I didn’t think any of this was going to work. The truth is, you never ever know.”

Spielberg is currently in contention for Best Director at the forthcoming Oscars. His film The Fablemans has picked up a total of seven nods, including Best Picture.

American actor Roy Scheider on the set of Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg (Corbis via Getty)
American actor Roy Scheider on the set of Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg (Corbis via Getty)

Elsewhere during the interview, Spielberg reflected on his first job directing Joan Crawford in an episode of the Seventies anthology series Night Gallery.

He recalled that he went above and beyond with his camera work, trying to capture unique angles.

“I didn’t care about getting another job. I knew I would eventually work again,” he said. “But I didn’t work for a year because of my clever camerawork on that show.

“I did jump cuts, shots through the chandelier, all kinds of great shots. I didn’t care if it cost me work; I just wanted to do what I thought was right for that show.”