How is Deep Blue Sea truly similar to Jaws?

When we think of the word “jaws,” the first animals that come to mind are probably sharks. This association is primarily due to the movie Jaws (based on a bestselling novel of the same name) which depicts a series of horrific and tragic deaths caused by a massive great white shark which is hunted by a police chief, a marine biologist and a shark fisherman. Despite shark attacks being relatively unlikely, the image of sharks as human killers persists in the popular imagination, largely fuelled by movies featuring them as menacing villains. Jaws was the first mainstream film to feature a shark as the main antagonist, elevating sharks from supporting roles in previous films to villains. While other shark-related films have been made (in the years since), none have matched the enduring popularity of Jaws, with the exception of Deep Blue Sea, which also incorporates science-related elements.


Unlike Jaws, Deep Blue Sea was not based on a novel. The screenwriter, Duncan Kennedy, drew inspiration from a horrific shark attack near his beach home, in addition to his admiration for Jaws (which is one of his favourite films). Similarly, Peter Benchley, who wrote the book that inspired Jaws, was fascinated by sharks since childhood and drew inspiration from real-life shark attacks in 1916 (off the coast of New Jersey) and the capture of a 4,500 pound great white shark in 1964. Universal Studios acquired the rights to Benchley’s book, through producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck and with the help of various writers, including Carl Gottlieb, they transformed it into the screenplay used for the film. Yet During filming, Gottlieb would write a script for a scene to be shot the following day.

Rights and Production
The film rights to Jaws were purchased shortly before the novel’s publication. Some of Benchley’s editors and producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck believed the book had potential as a film, supported by a card they saw and their own reading of the book. Brown admits that had they read it twice, they would not have made it due to the complexity of certain scenes. The first choice for the director, Dick Richards, was dropped for constantly referring to the shark as a whale. Steven Spielberg was interested in directing the book, but it was only after Richards was ousted that he was signed, having previously had his first feature film, The Sugarland Express, produced by Zanuck and Brown under Universal. However, Renny Harlin was initially the first choice for director, and no other director was considered before he was signed.


Peter Benchley’s main themes in Jaws, and the novel’s subsequent film adaptation by Steven Spielberg, primarily explores shark-related themes, director Renny Harlin’s vision of the film also includes references to supernatural elements found in movies like The Exorcist (1973), Alien (1979) and The Shining (1980). Spielberg, while still, drawing on shark-related elements, also compared Jaws to his first directorial effort, (The 1971 television film) Duel, noting similarities in both stories centred around everyday people being pursued with lethal intent.


Special Effects
Jaws was filmed and set way before computer-generated images or CGI was even born and the effects were mechanical ones, the shark being created by Production Designer Joe Alves with the help of Bob Marty who had designed the giant squid in the film 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea which was based on the book of the same name. While one shark was the main one, at least two others were built although the main shark was called Bruce after Steven Spielberg’s attorney Bruce Ramer. Three sharks were conceived for Deep Blue Sea however and thanks to CGI having firmly established itself in filmmaking by then, both animatronics (the next stage of mechanical effects) as well as CGI were used to bring the sharks to life although none of them were named after anyone associated with the director.




Filming Locations
Martha’s Vineyard off Massachusetts was chosen as the filming location for Jaws’ fictional town of Amity Island which is where the book is set although Deep Blue Seas filming locations were mainly in Mexico and California. Jaws was also filmed mainly on-location in the beach of Martha’s Vineyard while the filming of Deep Blue Sea was done in a film studio.




Much as Steven Spielberg cast unknown actors in Jaws, despite objections from producers Richard Brown and Richard Zanuck, to evoke a sense of troubles faced by ordinary people, similarly, Renny Harlin opted for seemingly unknown actors in Deep Blue Sea but was determined to include at least two big names like Samuel L. Jackson and singer/actor James Todd Smith more known as LL Cool J. Steven cast Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss based on their performances in The French Connection and American Graffiti respectively and cast Robert Shaw only under the firm suggestion of Brown and Zanuck




Events during filming
Jaws faced numerous troubles during filming, including weather-related disruptions, local activities interfering with the shoot, and malfunctions in props and effects, notably the main mechanical shark. These issues led director Steven Spielberg to rethink his approach, using the camera to represent the shark’s perspective and providing breaks for the shark to recover. In contrast, Deep Blue Sea predominantly takes place at sea, utilizing effective mechanical and animatronic sharks for its final shots. The difference is Deep Blue Sea for the most part it set at sea itself while Jaws takes place both on land and in the sea.




Both films open with people being attacked by sharks although in Jaws, it is a single person who is swimming while in Deep Blue Sea the people attacked are in a boat and there is more than one person. Unlike Jaws, the first victims in Deep Blue Sea survive thanks to the interference of shark researcher and handler Carter Blake who recaptures the attacking shark since it escaped from an underwater facility where its kind were being bred for development in curing Alzheimer’s disease.




Shark Presence
The sharks in Deep Blue Sea are first viewed with a medicinal purpose, that in creating what could destroy Alzheimer’s Disease (before they turn unstable) whereas the shark in Jaws was a menace to society on sight.



The Jurassic Park Reference
Deep Blue Sea references Jurassic Park in many ways (and by co-incidence Steven Spielberg who directed Jaws is also the director of Jurassic Park and Samuel L. Jackson starred in both films)


  1. Both movies relate to theme parks containing animals although for the most part, concerning Deep Blue Sea, sharks are kept for medicinal production while Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs are indeed meant to be part of an animal theme park and were cloned to be brought back to life. Also the former only contains sharks and the latter dinosaurs.
  2. The person in charge of the respective programmes, John Hammond and Susan McAllister are well-meaning people although in the book that Jurassic Park was inspired by, Hammond was an ill-mannered and cruel person unwilling to take any responsibility for his actions as his creation collapsed around him, something that was changed in the film version of Jurassic Park where he is a caring and sympathetic person. This persona that he had in the book however seems to be transferred into McAllister which she retains until towards the end of the movie.
  3. John Hammond’s company that creates Jurassic Park is known as InGen and Susan AcAllister’s company is known as ‘Aquatica’
  4. The locations for both stories take place in remote places but Jurassic Parks real name as an island is ‘Isla Nublar’ while the facility is not a natural island but a man-made mechanical one.
  5. Both start with an animal attack on a person—a (fatal) raptor attack in Jurassic Park (which coincidentally happens at the book’s beginning) and a shark attack on a few people at the start of Deep Blue Sea (with the human targets eventually being saved). This leads to endorsement visits to assess the safety of these animals. In Jurassic Park, the endorsement team includes Hammond’s grandchildren, Alexis and Tim, along with palaeontologist Alan Grant, palaeobotanist Ellie Sattler, chaos theorist Ian Malcolm, and Hammond’s lawyer, Donald Gennaro (whose character from the book was merged with park guide Ed Regis in the film). However, in Deep Blue Sea, the endorsement team consists of just one person, the corporate head of Aquatica, Russell Franklin, similar to when Gennaro also joined Hammond’s work along with the others.
  6. The Jurassic Park novel shows no storm that jeopardises the park along although much like the movie, Dennis Nedry who is a corrupt InGen employee tries unsuccessfully to steal assets important to Jurassic Park although it is Nedry who is far more responsible as much as he is in the movie where it is implied that the storm is of no problem to the park unlike him. However, in Deep Blue Sea as shark attacks begin, it is indeed weather that hampers the situations that are involved in the human characters trying to escape from the deadly animals.
  7. John Hammond of InGen and Susan McAllister of Aquatica, the respective organization designers, both display ignorance and lack of empathy towards the potential threats of their projects. However, unlike the novel version of Jurassic Park, where Hammond blamed others for problems before his death due to a pack of procompsognathus (which did not appear in the film version), he appears more sympathetic in the film, takes responsibility for the consequences, and survives the events while showing genuine concern for people in danger including his own (two) grandchildren. Conversely, Susan in Deep Blue Sea mirrors Hammond’s novel counterpart and meets her demise at the jaws of the final shark, though her death is avenged. Before her end, however she shows some remorse for her actions and seeks to take some responsibility.
  8. Jurassic Park showcases various dinosaur species, including Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, Triceratops, Othnellia, Dilophosaurus, Apatosaurus, Parasaurolophus, and Procompsognathus, Stegosaurus and Styracosaurus (with some differences in the film version where Procompsognathus was absent much like Stegosaurus and Styracosaurus and Apatosaurus and Othnellia were replaced with Brachiosaurus and Gallimimus respectively). In Deep Blue Sea, only the mako shark stands out as the main villain, unlike Jurassic Park, where carnivorous dinosaurs particularly Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor showed aggression towards humans while herbivorous ones remained more docile.
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  10. Most of the human characters make it out alive at the end of Jurassic Park although only two characters survive at the end of Deep Blue Sea. Also the only member of the endorsement team in Deep Blue Sea does not survive.
  11. As mentioned before unlike Jaws, Deep Blue Sea was not based on a book (and much like Jaws, Jurassic Parks film version was evidently based on the book) although the author of Jurassic Park Michael Crichton had a fascination with dinosaurs the same way the Peter Benchley the author of Jaws did for sharks.
  12. In the security laboratory in Jurassic Park, a small screen displays sequences from Jaws. Steven Spielberg, the director of both films, discovered the books before their publication. While the first director of Jaws, Dick Richards, was dropped due to his approach, Spielberg acquired the rights to Jurassic Park after numerous studio bids much as he acquired the rights to Jaws shortly before its publication. Spielberg expressed his desire to create a compelling land-based sequel to Jaws, having declined directing Jaws 2 (June 16th, 1978) and Jaws 3D (July 22nd, 1983) due to the challenges he faced with the original Jaws (none of the sequels performed as well as the first film). When he signed on to direct Jurassic Park, he stated that he had always wanted to ‘make a Jaws sequel but on land’
  13. The sharks breaking into the facility in Deep Blue Sea from their enclosures, akin to the dinosaurs’ breakout from their paddocks in Jurassic Park, leads to intense survival struggles for the human characters. Notably, in Jurassic Park, Alexis distracts a raptor in a kitchen, by trying to hide in a cabinet. One of the raptors sees her reflection in another cabinet and thinking it is her charges at it but ends up being banged on the head as a result of the reflection while she escapes with her brother. This reflects to Deep Blue Sea wherein Preacher during his struggle to escape the sharks, locks himself in an oven for sometime which is fortunately broken and manages to escape the shark that is pursuing him from a different direction.
  14. The movie endings were changed for various reasons. The original novel ending of Jurassic Park had the heroes defeating the pursuing raptors, restoring power to the park, and escaping before the park was destroyed by the Costa Rican air force which was retained in the movie except for the Costa Rican Air Force destroying the park. However, Spielberg altered it to avoid disappointment if the Tyrannosaurs did not reappear, focusing on a fight between the Tyrannosaurus and the escaped raptors. In Deep Blue Sea, the original ending had three human characters surviving, including the creator of the shark project, but she was killed off after negative audience feedback during a test screening. The only common element between both movies is the survivors being rescued by an approaching team.



Situations in Shark Attacks
Unlike Jaws, where shark attacks target vulnerable people in boats or swimming, Deep Blue Sea focuses on attacks within a crumbling water facility. While similar to Jaws 3D, which is set at SeaWorld, Deep Blue Seas events occur in a lab water facility. It is interesting to note that a license plate pulled from one of the shark’s teeth in Deep Blue Sea is the very same one found in the insides of a Tiger shark caught in Jaws during the hunt for the real shark responsible for the recent attacks of Amity Island beach goers.



Jim Whitlock and Janice Higgins are in a relationship and she is revealed to be pregnant while they fight their way out of the facility and escape from the sharks although the havoc begins when tragically, Jim is maimed and killed by one of the sharks, and Janice meets the same fate by the jaws of another shark, though it is uncertain if it is the same one.
In the novel that became Jaws, the first victim a woman named Christine (renamed Chrissy in the book( and a man on the beach engage in lovemaking under the influence of alcohol, leading to an implied pregnancy before Chrissy’s fatal swim. In the movie, this scene is excluded (save for the survival of the man much like the book), along with other subplots, like Chief Brody’s wife’s affair with marine biologist Hooper. These elements are seemingly (but perhaps unconsciously) merged into the middle and climax of Deep Blue Sea, where shark handler Carter while initially antagonistic towards Susan for trying to protect the sharks later falls in love with her when she seems to take responsibility for her actions but fails to save her by the end of the film.




Other animals as Shark Victims
The death of Pippet the dog at the jaws of the shark in Jaws mirrors the death of Preacher’s parrot although it is unknown what exactly happens to the dog (because his attach is never actually shown on screen) as well as what becomes of the dog’s owner after that whereas Preacher’s parrot dies on screen after being snatched and killed by one of the sharks and Preacher is vengeful at that, relying on his faith in God and his determination to make it out alive before catching up to the others later.





Character Presence
A character central to the plot of the film, Jim Whitlock gets killed off early at the start of the shark menace in Deep Blue Sea. None of the central characters in Jaws face or come close to death until the end of the film.



The Oceanic Feeling
During filming at sea in Jaws, the director wanted to avoid as much view of land as possible to give the audience the feeling of actually being out at sea and not make them feel like they wanted to return to land. Deep Blue Sea seems to mirror this by being set out at sea itself.



Killing a Shark
The death of three sharks in the film mirrors the death of the sharks in the first three Jaws films (even though as mentioned earlier the sequels did not fare as well as the film that inspired them let alone not involving Peter Benchley or Steven Spielberg). The first dies in a gas explosion similar to the death of the shark in the first Jaws film, the second is electrocuted similar to the shark’s demise in Jaws 2 and the third is shot and subsequently blown up much like the shark’s fate in Jaws 3D although regarding the latter, no grenade is used in the battle in the climax of Deep Blue Sea but rather an electrocuted harpoon.


Human Villains
Apart from the sharks themselves, Deep Blue Seas true antagonist is Susan McAlister since she was responsible for the programme which involved the breeding of the sharks to combat Alzheimer’s disease and, she took no responsibility for her actions when they broke lose. Jaws had no human antagonist although the shark hunter Quint seems to put people off from time to time both in the book as well as the movie. The Mayor of Amity Island, Larry Vaughn also seems to be blameable in parts because he keeps the beaches open despite the attacks (until the end of the movie) although in the film while he is genuinely concerned for Amity’s tourism and does this, in the novel, he is pressured by the mafia to keep the beaches open.







Climax and Ending
The start and ending of Deep Blue Sea references those in Jaws, with both films involving a female victim and a shark’s death. In the final shot of Deep Blue Sea, Susan survived her battle against the last shark, but the audience was dissatisfied during a test screening due to her triggering the shark attacks and even shouted profanity during the screening at her survival. A reshot was done where she was devoured by the final shark while trying to distract it. The only survivors are Preacher and Carter, who avenge the deaths caused by the sharks after killing the final shark. A similar situation occurred during Jaws‘ production, with Spielberg proposing a new ending to the author, Benchley, who objected at first but later acknowledged its success with the audience. Hooper survives in the film, unlike in the novel where only Brody survives and paddles back to shore on a makeshift float though unlike Preacher and Carter who are rescued by an incoming group, Brody and Hooper simply paddle back to shore on the remaining battles that were not used to kill the shark in a differentiation to the novel wherein Brody is the only survivor of the battle and following the shark’s death paddles back to shore on a makeshift float.





Amongst (the) many well-known facts surrounding Jaws, the best is the musical score composed by Steven Spielberg’s close friend and to this day frequent collaborator John Williams. While Spielberg initially underestimated the main theme (humorously and sarcastically) upon Williams’ presentation of it to him, he immediately recanted since Williams said that was what the theme was going to be and Williams’ simple choice in choosing that music proved usefully successful because for scenes where the shark did not appear (due to the challenges that the sea put on it during filmmaking) and the camera was used for the animal’s point of view, the score gave the impending foreteller that eventually the shark was going to arrive and it was more effective than its use in scenes where the shark did appear. Trevor Rabin composed the score to Deep Blue Sea although it was his first collaboration with the director Renny Harlin whose work with earlier composers included Elmer Bernstein for Rambling Rose (September 20th 1991) and John Debney in Cutthroat Island (December 22nd 1995). It may or may not be worth noting that Cutthroat Island deemed the pirate genre unsuccessful for nearly eight years until the release of Pirates of the Caribbean (on July 9th 2003) which was based on Disney’s theme park ride of the same name and put pirate popularity back on track (sharks made a brief appearance in that movie as well, in this case, hammerheads). When Spielberg presented Jaws to Williams, the latter compared it to a pirate film and selected music he thought was similar to that of old pirate movies although recent research suggests that it loosely borrowed inspiration from one of Beethoven’s musical works. Unlike Jaws however, given that certain feature films did not use songs until possibly the late 1980s, Deep Blue Sea did see the inclusion of two songs sung by singer LL Cool J who starred in the film and these songs were as effective in creating the tension of the film as much as the tension created by Rabin’s score itself. However unlike Williams’ Jaws theme, Rabin’s Deep Blue Sea theme did not top the charts anymore than LL’s song.

Among the many well-known facts surrounding Jaws, the best is its iconic musical score composed by John Williams, a close friend and frequent collaborator of Steven Spielberg. Initially underestimated (but later heavily praised) by Spielberg, Williams’ theme proved incredibly successful in building tension, hinting at the shark’s impending arrival. Trevor Rabin composed the score for Deep Blue Sea, and while it included a rap song by LL Cool J who starred in the film, both did not achieve the same chart-topping success as Williams’ Jaws theme.





Blockbuster Aspect
Jaws is credited with creating the summer blockbuster trend, followed by films like Star Wars in 1977, which broke Jaws‘ box office record. This trend continued in subsequent years, but by the 1990s, multiple films had blockbuster potential, though not all succeeded. In 1999, films like Tarzan and The Phantom Menace, a film set 32 years before Star Wars competed positively without breaking rivalry records. Other successful blockbusters that year included The Mummy and Never Been Kissed. Despite mixed reviews for some, all these films became huge box office hits.

Jaws won three Academy Awards for Editing (by Verna Fields), Sound (by Robert L. Hoyt, Roger Heman Jr. Earl Madery John R. Carter), and (as mentioned earlier) original music score by John Williams. Williams’ score received the most awards in other ceremonies. Deep Blue Sea was nominated in certain categories but did not receive any Oscar nominations. However, it did win a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for LL Cool J and a BMI Film and Television Award for Trevor Rabin’s score.



Legacy and References
Two years after Jaws, Star Wars when released broke all the box office records of the film and continued to hold that record for some time. It may or may not needed to be said that the same year as Star Wars, another Peter Benchley novel The Deep was also made into a movie although it did not receive as much acclaim as Jaws did and was also beaten by Star Wars. Star Wars and Jaws (year wise) came together again when Deep Blue Sea and The Phantom Menace (the latter takes place 32 years before the original Star Wars film) released. 30 years after Jaws released, the film celebrated its 30th Anniversary and a remake of The Deep known as Into the Blue was also released. Both the book versions of Jaws and The Deep had no sequels although the former saw three sequels which did not receive as high acclaim as the film that started it all.  The same is also said for Deep Blue Sea although its sequels were released on home video rather than in theatres. The remake of The Deep had a sequel known as The Reef which was also released directly on DVD rather than in theatres, in the same year that The Phantom Menace and Deep Blue Sea celebrated their 10th Anniversary.

Two years after Jaws, Star Wars shattered the box office records of the film and held that title for some time. The same year as Star Wars, another Peter Benchley novel, The Deep, was made into a movie but did not receive the same acclaim as Jaws and was also overshadowed by Star Wars. Years later, Deep Blue Sea and The Phantom Menace (set 32 years before the original Star Wars film) were released together. The year that Jaws celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2005, a remake of The Deep, called Into the Blue, was also released. Neither Jaws nor The Deep had book sequels, while the film sequels to Jaws did not match the original’s success. Similarly, Deep Blue Sea had sequels released but on home video, and The Deeps remake had a direct-to-DVD sequel, The Reef, released in the same year that The Phantom Menace and Deep Blue Sea (both) celebrated their 10th Anniversary.





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