Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the 1974 novel by Peter Benchley. In the film, a man-eating great white shark attacks beachgoers at a summer resort town, prompting police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to hunt it with the help of a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a professional shark hunter (Robert Shaw). Murray Hamilton plays the mayor, and Lorraine Gary portrays Brody's wife. The screenplay is credited to Benchley, who wrote the first drafts, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb, who rewrote the script during principal photography.
Shot mostly on location on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, Jaws was the first major motion picture to be shot on the ocean, and consequently had a troubled production, going over budget and past schedule. As the art department's mechanical sharks often malfunctioned, Spielberg decided mostly to suggest the shark's presence, employing an ominous and minimalist theme created by composer John Williams to indicate its impending appearances. Spielberg and others have compared this suggestive approach to that of director Alfred Hitchcock. Universal Pictures' release of the film to over 450 screens was an exceptionally wide release for a major studio picture at the time, and it was accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign with a heavy emphasis on television spots and tie-in merchandise.
Jaws was the prototypical summer blockbuster, regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history, and it won several awards for its music and editing. It was the highest-grossing film until the release of Star Wars in 1977. Both films were pivotal in establishing the modern Hollywood business model, which pursues high box-office returns from action and adventure films with simple high-concept premises, released during the summer in thousands of theaters and advertised heavily. Jaws was followed by three sequels (without the involvement of Spielberg or Benchley) and many imitative thrillers. In 2001, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".