Before we get to the “when”, let’s start with the “where”.
The movie “Jaws” was almost entirely filmed on Martha’s Vineyard. A decision that certainly added to its authentic feel but also added, significantly, to its film schedule. A movie that should have been shot in 55 days was shot in a whopping 159 days. The only sections of the movie not filmed directly on Martha’s Vineyard were some underwater scenes filmed in a tank back at the film studio in California, one added scene that was filmed in the editor’s swimming pool in Encino and the shark cage scenes which were filmed in Australia.
Locations for the film were spread across the island and included Gay Head (Aquinnah), Menemsha harbor, Vineyard Haven harbor, Edgartown Main Street, East Chop Drive in Oak Bluffs and the Chappy ferry.
Jaws will actually be 50 twice! Which 50th birthday you chose to celebrate, or whether you celebrate both, will probably depend on whether you are an islander or not.
For those who live on the island the 50th anniversary may be recognized as an unofficial one, 2024. This recognizes 50 years from when Steven Spielberg descended with his crew upon the island. The shooting of the movie took place from 2nd May 1974 to 6th October 1974. The first scenes filmed featured Deputy Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer) finding the remains of Chrissie Watkins, the first shark victim, at Cow Beach. There are sure to be celebrations in 2024 to recognize the impact the filming of the movie had on the island. Several islanders who appeared in the movie, including Jeff Voorhees who played the doomed Alex Kintner, still live and work on the island. 2024 will also coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original book’s release of February 1974.
The official anniversary will coincide with the first screening of the movie, which was on 20th June 1975, and will take place across the Juneteenth weekend (19th-22nd June) in 2025. Already numerous parties, including the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, are in discussions with Universal Studios to coordinate potential events and possible star appearances for that weekend.
Initial ideas include having John Williams and orchestra play the film score at the Aquinnah cliffs; appearances on the island of stars including Richard Dreyfus, Jeffrey Kramer and Steven Spielberg; the recreation of the “Welcome to Amity Island” sign; the screening of the movie at multiple sites; and the initial release and screening of a new Jaws documentary “Making The Monster”, and much more.
The 2025 celebrations will be something not to be missed and the island is expecting a big influx of visitors. So book your trip early!