Jaws Writer Deeply Regretted Book After Blockbuster Movie’s Success

‘Jaws’ author Paul Benchley has explained why he regretted the book after the film adaptation was a blockbuster success.
Credit: Alamy & Universal Pictures

‘Jaws’ author Paul Benchley has explained why he regretted the book after the film adaptation was a blockbuster success.

The Steven Spielberg movie, which was released in 1975, is recognised as one of the most impactful Hollywood films of all time.

From its instantly recognisable theme tune to making everyone just that little bit more scared of swimming in the sea, Jaws was a hit that went on to be the highest-grossing film of all time – until Star Wars came out a couple of years later.

The movie is based on the novel of the same name – which came out the year prior – and it was also a huge success, having sold over 20 million copies.

Even though it turned him into a millionaire, Benchley would later admit that he had regrets over the novel.

Related Article: Ian McKellen Explains Why He Turned Down The Role Of Dumbledore In Harry Potter

Related Article: Jack Gleeson Says Working On Game Of Thrones Caused Him To Lose His Passion For Acting

Speaking to Animal Attack Files in 2000, Benchley expressed how his novel and the subsequent film portrayed sharks in a negative light and it has severely damaged the reputation of the fish.

He said: “What I now know, which wasn’t known when I wrote ‘Jaws’, is that there is no such thing as a rogue shark which develops a taste for human flesh.”

According to a study published in Marine Policy (reported in, humans kill around 50 and 100 million sharks each year.

Yet, only a handful of humans are killed by sharks.

At the time of writing the book, Benchley was 27 and had just left a job where he writing for President Lyndon B. Johnson and was working behind the furnace room of a factory – struggling to support his family.

Due to his own problems, he didn’t consider the potential damage the novel could have to the reputation of a shark.

But following the film, he spent the rest of his life as an advocate for oceanic conservation – a term used for the protection and preservation of the ocean’s ecosystem.

‘Jaws’ writer Peter Benchley has expressed his regret over writing it due to how sharks have been represented since the film came out. Credit: Universal Pictures

Benchley said that following his work on ‘Jaws’, he met ‘scientists and environmentalists’ who made him ‘closer to the ocean’ and appreciative of sharks.

“It’s disgusting when you see the slaughter of sharks; when the animal is brought to the surface, has its fins sawn off and is then dropped into the ocean,” he said.

“I’ve seen the ocean floor littered with the corpses of finless sharks.

“It’s hard to rally people behind sharks. Unlike whales or dolphins, they are hard to anthropomorphise – and they occasionally eat people.”

Simon Thorrold, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, told that following ‘Jaws’, people bought into the idea that sharks were rogue killers who were only interested in hunting humans.

So in response, people started hunting sharks.

Related Article: People Are Boycotting Oppenheimer After ‘Disgusting’ Line Offends ‘One Billion People’

Related Article: People Are Saying Underrated Movie From 2011 Perfectly Predicted The World Today

“I don’t think they have any interest in human interaction,’’ he said. “I think they’re actively trying to avoid them.’’

Benchley died aged 65 in 2006, but Spielberg has since shared similar sentiments to the author – expressing regret over making the film.

Speaking to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 (via The Guardian), the director said: “I truly and to this day regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film. I really, truly regret that.

“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 sports fishermen that happened after 1975.”

The Best Of It’s Gone Viral Delivered Straight To Your Inbox

* indicates required

Do you have a story for us? If so, email us at [email protected]. All contact will be treated in confidence.

Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.