JAW$ Hppy 40th Anniversary

THE $TORY OF HOLLYWOOD’$ BIGGE$T MOUTH, EVER

B-4 June 1975 there were ONLY 2 movie seasons the Holiday Season and the Other 10 mos. “Catch this” (pun intended), we reviewed the 100 BIGGE$T DOMESTIC BOX OFFICE movies of all time (inflated to 2015 $$). We found that of the 42 that were released B-4 1975 ONLY 16% of them opened during the summer while 43% opened in Nov & Dec (with DEC hosting 15 of those 19 flicks.) From 1975 to 2014 of the remaining 58 flicks from the BIGGE$T 100 list, 65% were released in the summer season with ONLY 26% being released during the Holiday Season. With the opening of Jaws the “flood gates” to summer blockbusters were thrown wide open. Now, that the movie industry was changed forever, it “sharpened its teeth” on its summer audience in many, many ways. (Please see Appendix of TOP 30 MOVIES, all time).

On to the Jaws tsunami and its little known director, Steven Spielberg. B-4 Jaws, Spielberg had ONLY 1 feature flick to his credit (The Sugerland Express, 1974) with Jaws being a pending disaster. It was 2fold± over its budget ($4 M) and 3fold± over its production calendar (55 days). With that said, the biggest “revolution” in Hollywood history was about to happen. Universal fearing being capsized by the flick decided to widely release it at the end of June (when Americans WERE at beaches with a possible fear of…) AND to support it with a big TV ad campaign. Both were extraordinary events b/c wide releases “back in the day” usually “rolled” to a wide release gradually rather than opening as such. In short, movies EARNED their wide releases. 2ndly, movies rarely were fronted with BIG TV campaigns. (The TV campaign was $700,000 or $3 M+ in 2015 $$.) Conventional wisdom was NOT to spend $$ on small screen ads to draw its audience to the big screen b/c small screen viewers would NOT go to movies anyway and even if they did, giving a competing medium ad $$ was heresy. The result you ask? Jaws became the BIGGEST BOX OFFICE of all time (Till Star Wars in 1977).

The wide release and TV campaign grew the product line & revenue streams of Jaws and thereafter for ALL movies. Almost from nowhere, ice cream flavors such as finnilla, jawberry & sharkalate (Financial Times, 2010) appeared. The bright idea of T-shirts/sweatshirts etc came bubbling from the sea floor and as did the plastic fins & a game (See Jaws 35th Anniversary CS Monitor). A few years later came Geo Lucas’ Star Wars (May of 1977) with such an array of products that even today, it seems unimaginable. $ummer$, once the wasteland of movie releases, became the “TENT POLLS” of the industry forging and forcing BIG BRAND repeats (sequels, et al). Even, COMIC BOOK HEROES followed as did MULTIPLEXES to be able to seat the growing blockbuster summer central biz. Finally, an industry once ONLY Hollywood (1970s) has truly become GLOBAL. 70%+ of today’s total box ($36.4 B) is from foreign markets. WOW!

1975 WAS A BLOCKBUSTER YR

In many ways 1975 was an amazing yr, a BLOCKBUSTER yr if you will. From Margaret Thatcher’s 1st appearance on the world stage to Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance from a Detroit restaurant; from the “link up” in space b/t the US Astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts and from Bobby Fischer refusing to play Anatoly Karpov to Bobby Unser winning his 2nd Indy 500, 1975 was a KICKBUTT YR. We recap some of its events below.

  • 1/12 Steelers beat Vikings in SB IX (their 1st). SB ads cost $107,000 per 30sec.
  • 2/11 Margaret Thatcher became Brit’s Conservative Party 1st Woman Leader
  • 2/21 The Watergate Scandal broke
  • 4/4 Bill Gates & Paul Allen founded Microsoft
  • 4/’75 Vietnam War ended
  • 6/20 Jaws becomes Summer’s 1st Blockbuster
  • 7/31 Jimmy Hoffa reported missing in Motown
  • 9/18 Patti Hearst “America’s Most Wanted” is captured in SF
  • 10/1Thrilla in Manilla” as Ali defeats Joe Frazier
  • 10/21-22 Red Sox’s Carlton Fisk HRs in 12th but the Big Red Machine (Cincinnati) wins WS
  • 11/11 SNL (NBC) with Geo Carlin aired it’s 1st show
  • 11/20 Ronald Regan enters prez race for 1976

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About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or bernacmd@udmercy.edu. Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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