Steven Spielberg Shark Apology Is One for the Ages

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Apologies are the coin of the realm in modern Hollywood.

Stars are constantly apologizing for sins both real and imagined. The emphasis is too often on the latter.

We wouldn’t mind a richly deserved apology now and then (cough, cough Alec Baldwin), but often stars are forced to serve up mea culpas for the oddest reasons.

Some, like “The Help” stars Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard, apologized for appearing in the 2011 film that isn’t deemed woke enough today.

Thandiwe Newton apologized for snagging her role in the little-seen thriller “God’s Country” over darker-skinned actresses.

“Saved by the Bell” star Mario Lopez was very, truly sorry for suggesting three-year-olds may not be able to tell us what gender they are.

Yet, Bette Midler hasn’t apologized to Sen. Rand Paul for mocking the near-fatal attack on him by his neighbor. Nor have any late night comics backpedaled on years of Russian collusion jokes even though we now know it was all a con.

Now, iconic director Steven Spielberg has joined the apology brigade. No, Spielberg isn’t apologizing for helming “1941,” “Always” or the ghastly “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Instead, he’s apologizing to sharks. Really.

Steven Spielberg on set of the film ‘Jaws’, 1975. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images).

A Shark Apology, Really

The director of “The Fabelmans,” loosely based on his early days as a budding director, told the BBC’s “Desert Island Discs” that his seminal 1975 smash “Jaws” had an unexpected side effect.

First, he explained why the mechanical shark that terrorized Sheriff Brody and co. in the film inadvertently improved the finished product.

The beast, dubbed “Bruce” in honor of the director’s lawyer, Bruce Ramer, kept malfunctioning during the production. That forced the 20-something director, working on his second feature film, to improvise. That meant less close-ups of the killer beast.

The result? One of the best thrillers ever made.

“It was just good fortune that the shark kept breaking. It was my good luck and I think it’s the audience’s good luck, too, because it’s a scarier movie without seeing so much of the shark.”

Steven Spielberg

Spielberg had something else he wanted to get off his chest on the subject, though.

“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 sport fishermen that happened after 1975, which 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.”

Steven Spielberg

It’s one thing to regret an unforeseen side effect of a pop culture phenomena like “Jaws.” The film introduced the summer movie blockbuster to Hollywood, for starters. It also did make many irrationally fear shark attacks.

Sharks still bite, and sometimes kill, humans, of course. Even if we’re now told to call these attacks “incidents,” in deference to Shark Nation.

“Jaws” remains the grandaddy of killer shark films, and no film has come close to its epic scares. Hollywood still feasts on the genre, pumping out the most ludicrous shark-based thrillers in the years since “Jaws” reached theaters.

And “Jaws IV: The Revenge” doesn’t count.

Think “Jurassic Shark,” “Raiders of the Lost Shark,” “Roboshark,” “2-Headed Shark Attack” and “Ghost Shark,” to name a few. And let’s not forget the “Sharknado” franchise, even if we wish we could.

Let’s all be glad that sharks don’t have Blu-ray players or streaming subscriptions, or Spielberg and a generation of hack auteurs might be in trouble.

Written by Christian Toto

Christian Toto is an award-winning film critic, journalist and founder of, the Right Take on Entertainment. He’s the author of “Virtue Bombs: How Hollywood Got Woke and Lost Its Soul” and a lifelong Yankees fan. Toto lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, two sons and too many chickens.

Follow Christian on Twitter at

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