Almost four decades ago a movie about a giant killer shark terrorizing a New England tourist community, a concept ripe for a 1950’s exploitation cheapie that would pack in the crowds at drive-ins all throughout the deep South, came out of nowhere to become the highest-grossing film ever made and the movie that would forever define what an “event movie” could be. It was the first of the modern summer blockbusters and to this day remains one of the best. It’s also one of my absolute favorite movies, one of the few perfect films I’ve ever seen in fact, and now it’s finally about to debut on Blu-ray, which is as good a time for me to invest in a Blu-ray player as any.
Jaws, the landmark Hollywood adventure epic that launched the career of its director Steven Spielberg, will be making its high-definition debut this August. Today, Universal Studios Home Entertainment announced a release date for the new disc and premiered a teaser trailer for the release and a video about the pain-staking restoration work done on the film for its Blu-ray debut. You can check out the videos along with some before-and-after restoration comparison stills here below, along with the Blu-ray box art.
The film has undergone a full frame by frame digital restoration from original 35mm film elements and the soundtrack has been extensively remastered in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, all supervised and approved by Spielberg himself. The Blu-ray will be available in a combo pack along with DVD, digital, and UltraViolet copies and over four hours of bonus features, including new documentaries and previously released extras.
Among the new extras will be The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws, a fan-made retrospective documentary directed by Erik Hollander that features fresh interviews with Spielberg and many of Jaws‘ cast and crew as well as its most ardent fans. Interviewees for Hollander’s doc that has been in production so long that I remember when it had a MySpace page include: actors Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Backlinie, and Jeffrey Kramer; co-writer and actor Carl Gottlieb; production designer Joe Alves; composer John Williams; producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown; shark experts Ron and Valerie Taylor; stuntman Dick Warlock; filmmakers Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Bryan Singer, Eli Roth, and M. Night Shyamalan; make-up effects legends Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini; and the late Roy Scheider (who also narrated the documentary), Peter Benchley (author of the original novel), and Percy Rodriguez (narrator of the film’s legendary trailer).
The Shark Is Still Working has been screened at film festivals since 2009, but this release marks the first time it has been commercially available. Universal took a similar tact back in 2009 when they re-released John Landis’ comic horror classic An American Werewolf in London along with the excellent fan documentary Beware the Moon.
The Blu-ray extras will also include a new featurette about the restoration of Jaws as well as the full two-hour documentary The Making of Jaws that originally appeared on the 1995 laserdisc and appeared in a 50-minute edited form when the film was first released on DVD back in 2000. When Jaws was re-released on DVD for its 30th anniversary in 2005 the documentary was finally released in full. Previously released extras to be included on the new release will include a vintage interview with Spielberg conducted on the set on the movie in 1974, deleted scenes and outtakes, a still gallery containing everything Jaws-related from production stills to storyboards to marketing materials, the original theatrical trailer, and many BR-enabled features.
The standard DVD edition will only include the 50-minute version of the laserdisc documentary previously seen on the 2000 release as an extra feature.
Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, said about the Jaws Blu-ray release, “Jaws holds a unique place, not just in Universal Picturesâ€™ history, but in global pop culture. It is only fitting that this phenomenal film should be given the extensive restoration needed to ensure that long-time fans as well as newcomers can enjoy this unforgettable cinematic achievement for generations to come.”
Jaws is one of three of Steven Spielberg’s most beloved films debuting on Blu-ray, with the Indiana Jones series hitting the format this fall and a E.T. Blu-ray rumored for later this year.
The Jaws Blu-ray will be available on August 14, 2012.