Jaws 3-D Director Joe Alves Recalls “Terrible” Experience Making the Jaws Sequel

Jaws 3-D remains the sole directing credit for film veteran Joe Alves because he had a "terrible" experience helming the sequel to the Steven Spielberg-directed Jaws and Jeannot Szwarc's Jaws 2. The 3D threequel follows Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid), the now adult son of two-time Amity hero Chief Martin Brody — played in the first two films of the franchise by Roy Scheider, who refused to return for a third film — as an employee of a Florida marine theme park terrorized by another man-eating great white shark, which endangers marine biologist Kay Morgan (Bess Armstrong) and hunter Phillip FitzRoyce (Simon MacCorkindale).

"It was terrible," Alves told SYFY WIRE. "I came up with the idea of making it 3D. And so then I got the directing job, but then I realized they didn't have any new cameras. They were all old. So we had to make cameras, and we got to get the convergence right, and I had this television producer [Alan Landsburg] that was, 'Got to do it quick, quick, quick.' So it was extremely difficult in the technology, you know, just shooting it, because the convergence wouldn't be right, and we'd have to check it. And that was very, very difficult."

The first-time director — who also served as production designer on Jaws before returning as associate producer, production designer and second unit director on its first sequel — did not have final cut on Jaws 3-D.

"I cut the movie to a certain length, as with the other two, and then [Landsburg] cut about 20 minutes out of the personal relationships, which is okay," Alves recalled. "But you know, still, it was very, very successful, made a lot of money. So..." The film earned a total lifetime worldwide gross of nearly $88 million despite largely negative reviews.

In a previous television interview, Alves said Landsburg was "difficult" and the project — once envisioned as a parody titled Jaws 3, People 0 — was scrapped and the rights sold to Alan Landsburg Productions.

Recalling a conversation with Verna Fields, who won the Academy Award for editing Jaws, Alves said, "They had a good writer, Richard Matheson … [Fields] said, Why don't you go and save the franchise?'"

In 2006 book Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers of the 1940s Through 1960s, Matheson said Universal Pictures had the "dumb" idea to include Martin Brody's sons and that the film, helmed by an inexperienced Alves, was a "waste of time."

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"I'm a good storyteller and I wrote a good outline and a good script. And if they had done it right and if it had been directed by somebody who knew how to direct, I think it would have been an excellent movie," Matheson said. "Jaws 3-D was the only thing Joe Alves ever directed; the man is a very skilled production designer, but as a director, no. And the so-called 3D just made the film look murky — it had no effect whatsoever."

Universal Pictures recently released Jaws on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in celebration of its 45th anniversary. All four Jaws films are available for streaming on HBO Max.

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