To many fans of Stephen Spielberg’s terrifying classic, remaking Jaws sounds a travesty against film and nature. However, writer/producer Michael Perry (The Voices, Paranormal Activity 2) explores his intriguing concepts for a reimagined version of the shark stalker flick in 2015 terms on Adi Shankar’s The Bootleg Universe Pitch Show.
With its iconic musical theme and classic shark POVs, Jaws is the first true blockbuster and still ranks as one of the highest grossing movies of all time (adjusted for inflation). Enthusiasts of the original are understandably skeptical of sequels and reboots due to hot messes like Jaws 3D and Jaws: The Revenge. However, Perry’s vision of a found footage Jaws, a la Cloverfield, offers a fresh attack on our soft spot for cinematic sharks.
Perry’s version of the film opens with the citizens of Amity — a town under the thumb of the tourist industry – convinced they’re in imminent danger from a shark attack. While taking preventative measures by shark-proofing the area and searching for visual proof of the danger, they rile up the sharks, until the town’s corporate patrons assemble a shark-hunter team. Perry’s other twist has the assembled crew of the Orca – local out-of-work fisherman Quint, eco-yuppie Hooper, and urban cop turned shark hunter Brody – as participants on a Deadliest Catch-type reality show. Perry also wants to revert to the novel ending, teasing the audience with a sole survivor from the primary cast.
For his reboot, Perry imagines a pseudo-documentary tone with entire segments of the film shot in a raw-footage style with GoPros and cellphone cameras. Using the dramatic footage of actors swimming with sharks would enhance the natural drama and ramp up the realism. He also understands that a modern audience, already familiar with the ecological habits and benefits of sharks, wouldn’t be as quick to dismiss them as villains. Instead, he suggests several conflicting undercurrents — including corporate interest versus public safety and ecology versus economy – some themes similar to the original and others with a modern twist.
Still, Perry understands the risks and benefits of faux-documentary style approach to rebooting Jaws:
“Unfortunately, because it’s inexpensive to make, a lot of people have forgotten the artistry of found footage, and made a lot of knockoffs that have diluted the genre…The wonderful thing about found footage is that it lets you experience a story the way you experience a story in real life. A version of Jaws that is done that way could be very powerful.”
While found footage is somewhat tired, the advent of Youtube and other shaky-cam movies can make classical filmmaking techniques seem quaint to a modern audience. A documentary-style Jaws, if well-executed, could pull audiences into the drama in a completely different way than the classic. The reboot could build tension by lightly jabbing at humanity’s responsibility for its own shark problems and the pitfalls of unbridled greed, while also making stabs at the scripted nature of reality TV and the modern obsession with dangerous selfies.
Even if sharks aren’t the enemy, they’re still dangerous. And sure, corporations are already one of Hollywood’s favorite punching bag, but they often deserve it. Whether laced with moral undertones or morally ambiguous, in the long run, the success of Perry’s Jaws depends on the interplay between the characters. If we don’t believe in their conflict and camaraderie, we might as well be watching Sharknado 4: The Dumbing Down.
Source: The Bootleg Universe Pitch Show
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