Steven Spielberg passed on returning for any of the Jaws sequels and he wasn’t a big fan of them either. Jaws made Spielberg’s career, with the film being a masterclass in how to make a terrifying horror movie that’s also filled with humanity and humor. It’s well-documented what a nightmare it was to shoot Jaws, from the mechanical shark “Bruce” rarely working properly, while the production went wildly over budget and schedule. During filming, Spielberg was certain he would be fired and his career ruined, and the trauma of the experience has never fully left him.

That success of the first movie made Jaws 2 – which almost dropped the great white shark – inevitable, though to the shock of no one, Spielberg passed on it. The helmer couldn’t face the thought of returning to the water, and he also dismissed the idea of sequels as a “cheap carny trick” at the time. His stance on follow-ups softened in later years, where he returned for three Indiana Jones sequels and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, but he steered clear of coming back to Jaws. The franchise burned itself out with the critically reviled Jaws: The Revenge in 1987, which still returned a modest profit for the studio.

Related: How The Sharks Die In Each Jaws Movie

Over 30 years on from Jaws: The Revenge, it appears there are no plans for a sequel or reboot. Spielberg himself is said to have ruled out plans by Universal for a reboot. The only time it appears he ever considered a return was when the original director of Jaws 2 – where Richard Dreyfuss didn’t return – was fired a month into filming, and producers approached Spielberg about taking over. He stated that if the work done on the movie so far was scrapped entirely he’d consider it, but when producers denied this request he passed again. Spielberg isn’t one to badmouth the work of others, but what is certain is he wasn’t happy with the end result.

In a 2011 conversation with AICN, Spielberg revealed it was a hard choice to pass on the Jaws follow-up, as “… I knew that when I was walking away from the sequel I was walking away from a huge piece of my life that I had helped to create, but it wasn’t a hard decision to walk away from it. I just could not imagine going back out to the ocean and sitting in a boat for 9 months. I just couldn’t imagine it.” He also stated that while he was happy not to have suffered through another stressful Jaws production, he “… also I wasn’t happy with the sequel and I realized I had let a franchise go that I could have made a good contribution to.”

Spielberg has never directly commented on Jaws 3D or Jaws: The Revenge, though if he disliked the second entry, he’s likely not a fan of those outings either. Spielberg did write a letter to Jaws: The Revenge’s helmer Joseph Sargent before production began, however, wishing him luck. Back To The Future: Part II later threw an intense amount of shade at the maligned sequel with the fake movie Jaws 19, where after being attacked by a hologram of the shark, Marty dismisses the effect with “Shark still looks fake.”

Spielberg was the executive producer on the sequel and was in on the gag, with behind-the-scenes photos showing him standing outside the Jaws 19 marquee. There are also unconfirmed reports the director has refused to allow Jaws to be packaged alongside the sequels in home release boxsets which – if accurate – should underline his thoughts on the later entries.

Next: Jaws 3’s Original Horror Concept Was Genius (& Why Spielberg Turned It Down)

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Author: Padraig Cotter