‘Jaws’ bites back with new IMAX, 3D release this weekend – Houston Chronicle

Roy Scheider in a scene from “Jaws” which is being re-released in theaters this weekend.
Alan Cerny was five when he first saw “Jaws.” In fact, the whole Cerny family was there to take it all in. “It had to be at least 20 of us in the movie theater that day,” remembers the Houston-based Cerny, who now writes film reviews for the Vital Thrills website.
While Cerny can’t recall which General Cinema theater where he saw the film (it was either the Galleria location or the one at Northline Mall), he knows it was his first real movie memory. “I’ve been told I’ve seen movies before that,” he says. “I don’t really remember them. But I remember ‘Jaws’.”
Back in the summer of 1975, a young director named Steven Spielberg helmed an adaptation of Peter Benchley’s hit 1974 novel about a killer shark terrorizing a beachside resort town. Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss star as the men who go on a mission to take down this underwater beast. The $9 million movie grossed $472 million worldwide, spawned three sequels and basically defined the summer blockbuster.
“Jaws” would be re-released a couple more times in the ‘70s. And, come this Labor Day weekend, it will be re-released again. This time, it’ll be shown in both IMAX and RealD 3D formats. (Interestingly enough, the third “Jaws” film is called “Jaws 3-D.”)
Running time: 124 minutes
Where: Opens Sept. 2 throughout Houston
“Jaws” is the latest blockbuster blast-from-the-past getting another go-round in multiplexes. Just recently, “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial,” another Spielberg masterpiece, played in IMAX theaters. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” also recently returned to IMAX. Even last winter’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is coming back for one more spin this weekend with extra footage.
As both Hollywood and theaters continue trying to bring audiences back to the movies after two lockdown-filled years (theaters are taking part in a National Cinema Day on Saturday, where all tickets will be $3), they’re hoping people will want to see these certified smashes on the big screen, instead of on their laptops or smartphones.
Kristian Salinas, former director of the Houston LGBTQ film festival QFest, caught “Jaws” when he was a toddler, then saw it again when it was re-released in 1979. Like so many kids back then, he was obsessed. “I would beg my parents [saying], “I want to see it again and again and again,” he says. “I had the ‘Jaws’ coloring book. Back then, they used to do this really big coloring book that was probably, like, three feet tall. It’s almost the same size as you.”
Yes, “Jaws” set off a mania that led to everything from merchandising to ripoffs (Salinas also saw the 1977 carbon copy “Orca,” subtitled “The Killer Whale”) to an unfortunate increase in shark killings (Google “The ‘Jaws’ Myth” for more on that). It also made Hollywood start churning out more big-budget summer flicks, looking to catch that same tidal wave of box-office success. 
However, as we’ve seen over and over again (especially this summer, as empty thrill rides like “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Bullet Train” clogged multiplexes), Hollywood rarely makes blockbusters like “Jaws” anymore. Cerny certainly thinks so. “I think what people forget the most about ‘Jaws’ — and studios at the time were trying to copy that success — is that ‘Jaws’ is about three dudes on a boat,” he says. “And those three dudes just talking to each other are some of the best scenes in the movie, right? I think that studios want the spectacle, but you don’t get to the spectacle without having an honest, human connection with the characters that you’re watching. Because if you don’t have that human connection with the characters that you’re watching, then the spectacle is meaningless.”
Cerny points to the billion-dollar success of “Top Gun: Maverick” as a fine example of how audiences still want movies that excel at both spectacle and storytelling. “Even though we’re not all fighter pilots,” he says, “we can relate to, you know, getting older and wondering whether or not we’re still living a life of meaning.”
As much as Salinas is pleased that younger audiences will have the chance to watch “Jaws” on the big screen, he is a bit disappointed it’ll be in some converted IMAX or 3-D format and not the 35/70mm film formats that he viewed as a little boy. “Honestly, I guess it’s no different from the old days of CinemaScope, when it became a thing — like, “We got to do something to get people out of their homes,’” he says. “For me, the technology is not the answer to get me to see it. Like, if it was going to be shown in a brand-new print, I might be interested in seeing that. I kind of miss that. Like, I miss the colors — the way that films looked in a certain time. They just had color!”
Whether you see it on film or on digital, remember that “Jaws” will always be the summer blockbuster all summer blockbusters aspire to be.
Craig Lindsey is a Houston-based writer.
 
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