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IT’S 35 TODAY! Eleven things to appreciate about Jaws 3-D

Jaws 3-D–a movie that most people will tell you is a flaming piece of crap–was the film I fell in love with when I was 12 that basically made me the aquarium volunteer I am today. It inspired me to want to be around fish, and it inspired me to dream big and live in Florida (well, I’m getting to that part, still). So…on July 22, 1983, the film was released in theaters. In celebration of its 35th anniversary, I’m re-running an article I wrote for Jennifer Allis Provost’s MARCH MOVIE MADNESS blog series last year. Enjoy! 

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The main title sequence for TV and prior DVD releases. Notice it doesn’t say Jaws 3-D. It was changed for these subsequent releases because effective 3D couldn’t be shown in those formats at the time. The restored 3D version, which I own, contains the original title sequence.

1983’s Jaws 3-D—one in a brief spate of super-hyped early ’80s 3D films—is considered the joke of the franchise, even though it was #1 at the box office[1] and got its own prop exhibit at SeaWorld Orlando (then called Sea World of Florida)[2], where it was filmed. There are still, however, some neat things that make 3-D eligible for at least a one-time watch.

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The underwater exhibit was cutting-edge technology at the time this movie was made—and this film made fantastic use of preying on people’s fears about what seemed claustrophobic and possibly even not entirely trustworthy.

At the time, underwater attractions were novel, dangerous things.

In 1964, the founders of SeaWorld San Diego (then called just Sea World) abandoned plans for an underwater restaurant because it “wasn’t feasible.”[3] In 1980, the Shark Encounter, an under-the-surface walk-through, was on Sea World of Florida’s maps; in October of 1983—four months after Jaws 3-D’s theatrical release–Epcot’s Living Seas, which featured the aquarium-facing Coral Reef Restaurant, broke ground.  While this new technology “wowed,” it also terrified: what happens if you’re in that tunnel and something fails? 3-D not only illustrates this scenario, it illustrates the solution. So while it’s clear that 3-D’s submerged multiplex was inspired by and publicized the real park’s exhibit, it heralded a new age: today, so many major aquariums have time-tested underwater attractions we take them for granted. Read the rest of this entry

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