Steven Spielberg has said he “truly regrets” painting sharks in a bad light in his iconic film Jaws.
Released in 1975, Jaws saw a man-eating great white shark attack the coast of Amity Island. It was promoted with the tagline “you’ll never go in the water again”.
However the film and the book it was based on apparently led to a rise in great white shark trophy hunting with George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research in Gainesville, telling the BBC that “thousands of fishers set out to catch trophy sharks after seeing Jaws.”
“There was no remorse, since there was this mindset that they were man-killers,” he added.
According to biologist Dr Julia Baum, that trophy hunting was one of reasons the population of great white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean declined by 79 per cent between 1986 and 2000.
Now, speaking on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Jaws director Steven Spielberg has said he regrets the impact his film had. When asked by host Lauren Laverne about the possibility of his desert island being surrounded by shark-infested waters, Spielberg admitted “that’s one of the things I still fear”
“Not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy fisherman that happened after 1975,” added Spielberg.
“To this day, I truly regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and film. I really, truly regret that,” he continued.
Thrilled to get the chance to talk work, life and music with Steven Spielberg @amblin for this morning’s #DesertIslandDiscs! “Everybody who says I can tend towards the sentimental is absolutely right!’… Join us on @BBCRadio4 @BBCSounds today! 🏝️ https://t.co/heOMYVreMx
— Lauren Laverne (@laurenlaverne) December 18, 2022
Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws, had previously said: “Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today. Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.”
Last year, it was reported that Spielberg turned down a reboot of Jaws.
Spielberg is currently promoting his latest film The Fabelman. The film is loosely based on the director’s adolescence and first years of his career, told through the story of a fictional young aspiring filmmaker called Sammy Fabelman.