The Oscar Project
For movie lovers of a certain age, "Bruce the Shark" is the first horror movie icon that they remember seeing on the big screen. However, the titular character from Steven Spielberg's 1975 film Jaws that ushered in the era of the summer blockbuster has been missing for 40 years. Just like in the film, the monstrous creature has been hidden from public view, waiting to make his triumphant appearance and dazzle the public.
But soon, the wait will be over. Just last week, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures completed installation of one of the most iconic objects from its permanent collection, the only surviving full scale shark model from Jaws. This moment signals exciting momentum toward the Academy Museum’s much-anticipated opening on April 30,2021, where the 25-foot model will be on view, free to the public.
The monumental model is the fourth, final, and only surviving version of the shark model derived from the original Jaws mold. The creation of the infamous mechanical shark—which Spielberg is rumored to have named "Bruce" after his lawyer—was tasked to art director Joe Alves, whose original schematics depict the 25-foot long body, 400-pound head, and jaws nearly five feet wide. The three screen-used production molds cast in latex and rubber rotted and were destroyed. The Academy Museum’s version, cast in fiberglass for photo opportunities at Universal Studios Hollywood surrounding the film's 1975 release, survived at Universal until 1990 when it found its way to Nathan Adlen's family's junkyard business in Sun Valley, California. In 2010, it was authenticated by Roy Arbogast, a member of the original Jaws film's special effects crew, and in 2016, the Academy Museum acquired the shark model through a contribution by Nathan Adlen. The museum worked with special effects and make-up artist Greg Nicotero, co-founder of KNB EFX, to meticulously restore the fiberglass shark which had deteriorated from being outdoors for 25 years.
The conservation is now complete, and the Academy Museum has undertaken the complex task of moving the largest object from its collection on site. Since the shark is so large, it is unable to fit in the museum’s elevators. Instead, a team of art handlers, engineers, and construction workers removed two panels from the Saban Building’s curtain wall of glass and expertly craned Bruce into the building.
Bruce’s dramatic new home is suspended 30 feet above the third floor of the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano-designed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where the public can enjoy it once again. In its new location, Bruce will be visible from many vantage points within the museum and to passersby outside on Fairfax Avenue and 6th Street.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?