Steven Spielberg genuinely hopes sharks aren't mad at him for Jaws' influence on "crazy sports" fishing

(Image credit: Universal)

Steven Spielberg says he still "really, truly regrets" how Jaws negatively impacted the public's perception of sharks. The filmmaker expressed guilt over the fact that the hit thriller was built on false assumptions incited by Peter Benchley's novel, and how the subsequent fishing boom led to a notable decline in the creatures' numbers.

While appearing as a guest on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs recently, Spielberg explained: "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," he continued candidly. "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."

While Jaws isn't, of course, solely to blame for the diminishing amount of sharks worldwide, conservationists have previously criticized the film for sparking an increase in shark hunting. "Jaws was a turning point for great white sharks. I actually saw a big change happen," Oliver Crimmen, fish curator at the Natural History Museum in London, told the BBC back in 2015.

"A collective testosterone rush certainly swept through the east coast of the US. Thousands of fishers set out to catch trophy sharks after seeing Jaws," George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research in Gainesville, added. "It was good blue collar fishing. You didn't have to have a fancy boat or gear, an average Joe could catch big fish, and there was no remorse, since there was this mindset that they were man-killers."

Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, and Rob Scheider, Jaws follows a marine biologist, a professional shark hunter, and a police chief, who band together to catch a great white shark that's been attacking beachgoers in their summer resort town.

"Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today," Benchley admitted before his death in 2006. "Sharks don't target human beings, and they certainly don't hold grudges."

Spielberg is currently gearing up for the release of The Fabelmans, his semi-autobiographical drama about Sammy Fabelman, a young Jewish man who has had his heart set on making movies since his family took him to see The Greatest Show on Earth as a littlun. Gabriel LaBelle, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Paul Dano, Michelle Williams star.

For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies coming our way in 2023.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.