Merge Two Jaws Scripts?

I’ve been sent a copy of Richard Corinder‘s The Shark is Not Working, a Black List script about 28 year-old Steven Spielberg going through hell to make Jaws in ’74 and ’75. I’ve skimmed through about half of it. It’s funny, smart, very well-written, entertaining. But I mainly like it because it simultaneously (a) makes fun of Spielberg for being a talented but shallow popcorn shoveller, and (b) admires and sympathizes with the poor guy for managing to survive a hellish production experience. The big breakthrough happens when Spielberg hits on the idea of (a) barely showing the shark and (b) deciding to rely on John Williams‘ creepy music to excite the audience’s imagination.

As noted earlier there’s a competing “Spielberg-making Jaws” script called The Mayor of Shark City, written by Nick Creature and Michael Sweeney. Specscout coverage says it’s pretty good. Spielberg is hungry to make Jaws in the Sweeney-Creature, but he’s reluctant to direct it and is basically pressured into taking the directorial reins in the Corinder version. The Sweeney-Creature seems to focus more on Spielberg’s difficulty with original Jaws author Peter Benchley in the development of the script, but I’ve only read the coverage so what do I know? Nothing.

The making-of-Jaws saga is a helluva Hollywood yarn. It was originally told in a 1995 Laurent Bouzereau documentary, “The Making of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws,” which ran two hours and is included on the Universal Home Video Jaws Bluray.

32 years ago Tootsie director Sydney Pollack pieced together four or five different versions of the Tootsie script (by different authors) to make a semi-coherent whole. 40-plus years ago Sterling Silliphant merged two burning-skyscraper novels (The Tower, The Glass Inferno) into a single script called The Towering Inferno. Maybe the two Spielberg projects could come together in a similar way?

  • SmaugAlert

    I hope the sequel is “The Fridge is Not Working” detailing the trails and tribulations of making Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.

    • York Durden

      Or maybe one about the drama behind George Lucas letting one of his kids name Jar-Jar Binks.

    • NephewOfAnarchy

      I hope the last page of this Jaws thing features a Batman Begins style sequel setup –

      Lucas : “Well we’ve conquered the water, Steve. How are we gonna top that?”
      Steve : “I dunno, man. I need some space.”
      Lucas : “Space? Yeah I kind of had an idea about that…”

  • Eloi Wrath

    Christ, that conversation excerpt doesn’t bode well. Talk about on-the-nose. Although fan-casting this thing will be funny. Jesse Eisenberg as Spielberg? Paul Dano as Lucas? Shia LaBeouf as Scorsese? Haha.

    • SmaugAlert

      Yes, that scene is pretty awful. Probably is a good reason why this is on the Black List.

  • Scorsese sounds like Herzog.

    • Eloi Wrath

      Yeah, I can’t imagine motormouth coked-up Scorsese sounding anything like that professorial in a bullshitting session with his pals in the ’70s.

  • Jack Martinson

    That conversation sounds like Wells wrote it.

  • Bobby Cooper

    More rebranding to enshrine those legacies… The Berg has much to answer for, and he sure does love to talk dollars.

    Lest we forget:

  • moviewatcher

    Those excerpts you include are really bad. On the nose, no sense of what the directors are really like. I mean, do you really think that if Spielberg, Scorsese, DePalma and Lucas are sitting in a room together, DePalma’s just gonna start giving Spielberg shit for being “part of the system”? And what’s this obsession Scorsese apparently has for dichotomies?

  • Davidmth

    I wonder if some of that dialogue was taken from the book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls…I remember reading about DePalma giving Spielberg shit about being part of the system. DePalma’s, like Scorsese, is a NY guy, and they both started out making indie films on the street, very cheaply, whereas Spielberg’s first job was a TV assignment at Universal Studios where his mentor was Sid Sheinberg. Don’t get too much more “part of the system” than that.

    • AstralWeeks666

      But the problem that I have with the script excerpt is that the voice of artistic integrity who is criticizing Spielberg’s popcorn sellout is Brian De Palma. His films are mainly overcooked hysterical potboilers that have an almost necrophiliac obsession with Alfred Hitchcock’s work. And I’m saying as someone who has enjoyed a lot of De Palma’s films. The critique might carry more weight if it was coming a better director like Coppola or Scorsese.

      • Davidmth

        I agree 100%…but DePalma was always the mouthy, snarky, smart ass of the group so he was more outspoken and vocal about his fellow filmmakers’ movies. Rumor has it that he wrote the opening crawl of Star Wars…he also made fun of the rough cut and was pretty vicious about it. Only Spielberg was supportive of Lucas at that point.

  • Arthur Crittare

    Jeez is that lame. Sounds like it was written by an undergrad who read a Vanity Fair article about 70’s Hollywood.

    What this really shows is that Wells is willing to embrace this drivel just to zing Spielberg.

  • Brian Bouton

    “George runs off to catch up with the others. Steve sits down in the sand alone, deep in thought.” (cue music)

  • Raygo

    After suffering through endless TV spots about how difficult it was to make Mary Poppins, I decided I really don’t care all that much. Enough with the movies about making movies.

    • Deaf Ears

      Basically I’m with you, but I would like to see a movie about the making of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – since Edwin Neal has apparently gone on the record saying that filming TTCM was worse than his tour in Vietnam, I have to believe there’s a story there.

  • SmaugAlert

    State & Main FTW.

  • Probably better to watch the actual documentary ‘The Shark Is Not Working’ than these re-cooked things. That dialogue is as phony sounding as the “Where is the gravitas?” line spewed by Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks.

  • Are those actual pages from the script, because if so HOLY SHIT that’s truly, spectacularly awful.

    The whole angle of Spielberg as the prefab sellout among “real artists” should’ve been retired a decade ago – it was never true, and it’s even less true now. People have SEEN his segment in “ROOM 666,” right? The one where he predicts the entire fucking future of the business: (relevant part begins at about 3:10)

  • Awardsdaily

    “Always talking grosses and shit.” Sounds like a tweet from one blogger to another.

  • Awardsdaily

    Actually, I just thought of what this reminds me of – a fantasy in Rupert Pupkin’s fevered imagination of him sitting around talking with some big wigs. All that’s missing from the scene is Rupert.

  • goran

    That is some of the clunkiest exposition this side of Peter Morgan.

  • Michael Gebert

    Why are there scripts about the making of Jaws, but not The Godfather? That’s a story, with sinister Charlie Bluhdorn, Sinatra pissed off, real mobsters from the Italian-American Defamation League, crazy prankster Brando, Aram Avakian trying to screw Coppola out of the director’s chair…