Jaws 2 is a 1978 American horror thriller film and the first sequel to Jaws and the second installment in the Jaws franchise. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, it stars Roy Scheider as Police Chief Martin Brody, who must deal with another great white shark terrorizing the waters of Amity Island, a fictional seaside resort.
Like the first film, the production of Jaws 2 was troubled. The original director, John D. Hancock, proved to be unsuitable for an action film and was replaced by Szwarc. Scheider, who only reprised his role to end a contractual issue with Universal, was also unhappy during production and had several heated exchanges with Szwarc.
Jaws 2 remained on Variety's list of top ten box office hits of all time until the mid-1990s, and was briefly the highest-grossing sequel in history until Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980. The film's tagline, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...," has become one of the most famous in film history and has been parodied and homaged several times. It is widely regarded as being the best Jaws sequel.
About four years after the Amity Island shark attacks, two scuba divers find the deceased shark hunter Quint's sunken boat, the Orca, on the seabed before they are suddenly attacked by a huge great white shark. Both divers are killed but, one of them takes a picture of the creature before getting killed. A few days later, the shark enters Amity Island's coastal waters, killing a water skier named Terri. Diane, the motorboat driver, is attacked by the shark and tries to defend herself with gasoline and a flare gun, but the fuel ignites and she perishes when the motorboat explodes. The shark survives, but is burned on the right side of its head.
In addition to these incidents, a dead 7 1/2 meter killer whale is beached at a nearby lighthouse with large wounds all over its body which Police Chief Martin Brody, suggests were caused by a great white shark. Once again, Mayor Vaughn does not share Brody's belief that the town has another shark problem and warns him not to press the issue, afraid that it will cause mass hysteria. Later, Brody spots a section of a ruined speedboat bobbing in the surf just off the beach. When he goes to retrieve it, he encounters the burnt remains of Diane.
Brody bans his 17-year-old son Mike from going sailing, and finds him a summer job working at the beach. The following day, while Brody is in an observation tower, he sees a large shadow in the ocean moving towards the beach. Brody hastily orders everyone out of the water, and adds to the panic he causes by firing his revolver at the shadow, only to be told it is actually not a shark at all, but a harmless school of bluefish. Later that night, he receives a blurred photo of the shark's face, recovered from the camera of the attacked divers. Brody shows it to Vaughn and the town council, but they decline to accept the evidence put in front of them, being extremely reluctant to close the beaches during the tourist season. In Amity, the tourist season is big money. Len Peterson, an Amity official who has built a new resort in the town to attract tourists, has convinced the town council to fire Brody. Deputy Hendricks is promoted to Brody's position.
The next morning, Mike sneaks out and goes sailing with his friends, but has to take his young brother Sean along to stop him from telling his parents about the trip. Later, they go past a group of divers led by Tom Andrews. Andrews encounters the shark minutes after entering the water. He escapes but suffers an embolism due to rushing to the surface too fast. Teenagers Tina Wilcox and Eddie Marchand later encounter the shark when it hits their sailboat, killing Eddie and leaving Tina terrified and alone.
Brody and his wife Ellen find Andrews being put into an ambulance, and Brody suspects that something must have scared him to make him come up so fast. Hendricks informs Brody that Mike has gone out sailing to the lighthouse with his friends, so Brody insists on taking the police patrol boat to rescue them, with Ellen and Hendricks both joining him. They find Tina's boat and her hiding in the hull. She, in an obvious state of shock, confirms Brody's suspicions about the shark in the area when she screams out the word "Shark!" Hendricks and Ellen take Tina ashore in a passing boat, while Brody continues to search for the teenagers using the police launch.
All seems well with the other teenagers until the shark appears and hits one of their sail boats, causing panic as their boats collide with each other. Mike is knocked unconscious and falls into the water. Two of his friends pull him out just as the shark approaches, and they take him back to the shore for medical help. The rest of the teens remain floating on the wreckage of tangled boats, helplessly drifting out toward the open sea. A harbor patrol marine helicopter arrives and a rope line is rigged to tow the boats to shore but, before the pilot can tow them, the shark attacks the chopper, causing it to capsize and sink and drowning the pilot. Sean also falls into the water, but he is quickly saved by Marge. As Marge tries to get back into the boat, her hands slip on the wet hull, and she falls back into the water. The shark approaches and devours Marge. Back at mainland, Tina is sent to the hospital, and Ellen berates Peterson for getting her husband fired and denying the shark's presence.
Brody finds Mike, who informs his father about the situation. His friends and Sean are drifting on the wreckage toward Cable Junction, a small rocky island housing an electrical relay station, with the open sea beyond it. Brody quickly finds the teenagers, but the shark attacks again, which causes Brody to run his boat aground on the rocks. Brody tries to tie a rope line and use the boat's motorized winch to pull the teens to safety, but he snags an underwater power cable instead. Most of the teenagers are tossed into the water during the shark's next attack, and they swim to safety on Cable Junction, though the shark grazes Lucy while Sean and Jackie are left marooned on one of the boats. Using an inflatable raft, Brody attracts the shark's attention by repeatedly hitting the power line with an oar; thus creating a rhythmic vibration under the water (which he learned from the expert, who examined the killer whale) and gets the shark to bite the power cable. The shark is electrocuted to death, and its charred remains sink to the bottom of the sea. Brody collects Sean and Jackie and paddles over to Cable Junction to await rescue with the other teenagers.
The novelization, written by Hank Searls was based on an earlier screenplay of the film written by Howard Sackler and Dorothy Tristan (who was married to John D. Hancock, the first director chosen to film Jaws 2). Hancock and Tristan were fired from the project, but by this time, Searls was already well into his manuscript and had no choice but to continue working off of the abandoned screenplay. The novel therefore is based off that first screenplay by Sackler and Tristan rather than the final screenplay written by Sackler and Carl Gottlieb. Differences include:
- The water-skier scene in the novel and the film are nearly identical, except the boat is operated by a male in the novel and a female in the film.
- The "half-eaten killer whale" scene is not in the novel.
- The period of time between events differs. In the film, 4 years have passed between the death of the first shark and the events in Jaws 2. In the novel, 2 years have passed.
- The Len Peterson character is called Pete Petersen. He is still a real estate developer but the project being constructed is a new casino which the locals see as a hope to turn Amity into "the Las Vegas of the East".
- In the film, despite the attacks of the first film, Amity has seemingly suffered no real economic downturn and appears to be as vibrant and bustling as it was 4 years ago. In the novel, Amity has suffered through economic hardship, to the point that Peterson's casino is seen as a godsend that will help keep Amity from going bankrupt.
- In the film, Peterson is Ellen Brody's boss and a potential romantic rival for Martin Brody. There is no such plotline in the novel.
- The cast of teenage characters like Mike Brody, Larry Vaughn Jr., Andy, Bob Burnside and Jackie are present in both the film and the novel, but with some changes.
- The infamous shark attacking the helicopter scene is present in both works. In the film, a helicopter sent by Brody to rescue the teens is attacked by the shark and destroyed. In the novel, the Navy is running a routine exercise by dragging a sonar ball through the water. The shark attacks the sonar ball, snagging the helicopter and sending it into a freefall. It crashes into the ocean, with the shark attacking and killing the co-pilot (it is implied that the pilot died on impact).
- The shark photo taken by the diver's camera is present in both works. In the film, Phil Fogarty develops the film found in the camera while Brody is present. When the photo comes out, Brody sees the snout and eye of the shark and attempts to use the photo to convince the town selectmen that there is another shark off the shores of Amity. In the novel, local pharmacist Nate Starbuck develops the film and sees the shark in one of the photos, becoming convinced that Brody lied about the first shark dying and that Brody, Mayor Larry Vaughn and the town selectmen are conspiring to cover it up. Starbuck decides to keep the photo and use it to blackmail Brody and Vaughn.
- In the film, Brody shoots up the beach after mistakenly believing he saw a shark in the water, then later confronts the selectmen at the Town Hall with the "shark picture". After a testy exchange and outburst, he is fired by the selectmen. There is no such scene in the novel and Brody does not lose his job.
- In the film, after the water-skier scene, Brody has an almost obsessive notion that there is another shark in the waters off Amity, going so far as shooting up the beach when he mistakes a school of bluefish for a shark. In the novel, Brody adds up all the occurrences (missing divers, missing water-skier, exploded boat, missing NAVY pilot, Andy panicking while SCUBA diving) and suggests that if he didn't know better he would think that there was another shark off Amity, but not quite believing there is a shark until he literally sees it with his own eyes (while helping Tom Andrews search for the missing Navy sonar ball).
- In the film, while deep-sea diving for lobster, SCUBA instructor Tom Andrews runs into the shark, panics, surfaces too quickly and suffers an embolism. In the novel, Mike, Andy, Vaughn Jr., etc. are diving in search of the missing Navy sonar ball when Andy encounters the shark, panics, surfaces too quickly and suffers an embolism.
- In the film, the teenagers go day-sailing to the lighthouse then decide to go further, eventually winding up at Cable Junction. In the novel, the town of Amity sponsors a boat race that the town's teens enter. In both versions, the shark attacks the caravan of boats.
- In the film, Brody commandeers the police boat to search for the group of day-sailing teens. In the novel, Brody accompanies Tom Andrews on a search for the Navy's missing sonar ball. Andrews becomes a victim of the shark, leaving Brody to try to find the caravan of boats on his own.
- In the climax of the film, Brody finds the teens afloat near Cable Junction and attempts to rescue them with the winch on the police launch. The shark attacks and Brody inadvertently pulls up the main Amity power line. Brody lures the shark to him and it gets electrocuted when it attempts to attack Brody and instead bites into the line. In the novel, Brody finds the teens afloat toward Cape North and pulls the boat alongside them. He transfers them aboard and realizes that Sean is still missing. He finds Sean, and Mike jumps into the water in an attempt to secure a line to Sean's boat. Brody spots the shark and jumps into the water in an attempt to distract the shark. He succeeds and barely escapes with his life. Back aboard the boat, Brody and the teens pull up the anchor and find the main Amity power line tangled on it. In a frenzy, the shark attacks the boat. The boat begins sinking, but then the shark bites into the power line and is electrocuted.
- "Sammy The Seal", a major subplot of the novel, is completely omitted from the film. A vacationing NYPD sergeant named Jepps shoots a seal on the beach, leading Brody to arrest him. As the water-skier / exploding boat incident occurred at roughly the same time, Brody (mistakenly) surmises that a stray shot from Jepps' gun may have pierced the boat's gas tank, igniting the fuel and exploding the boat. Brody inadvertently sets off a firestorm when he later finds out that Jepps is politically connected in Albany and that his arrest and prosecution may derail the plans for the Amity casino.
- In the film, Harry Meadows, owner, editor and publisher of The Amity Leader is completely omitted from the cast of characters. In the novel, he prints Brody's version of events about the seal shooting, implicating Jepps in the possible demise of the water-skier and boat pilot in the paper. Meadows later regrets his actions, chastises Brody for jumping to conclusions with little to no evidence (after a ballistics test conclusively proves Jepps had nothing to do with the boat explosion), and tries to convince Brody to change his story after Jepps hires a high-priced lawyer who is threatening to sue him and put the paper out of business for spreading lies about his client.
- Shuffles Moscotti, a Long Island Mafia capo and one of the main antagonists (aside from the shark) in the novel, is completely omitted from the film. Moscotti's plotline also serves as a major subplot in the novel: Peterson is so underfinanced that he cannot get a legitimate loan to move forward on the Amity casino project so he turns to the New York Mafia Families to loan him the money, in exchange for their becoming "silent partners" in the casino. Later, Peterson (as well as Vaughn, Meadows and the selectmen) implores Brody to drop the attempted murder charges against Jepps. While the others cite the political snag in Albany and possible harm to Amity's economic well-being, Peterson confides in Brody that he is more concerned about potential retribution by the Mafia against Brody should the casino project fall through.
Although it only made 45% of the original film's gross, Jaws 2 did extremely well at the box office grossing £208 million worldwide ($102 million of which was in North America alone). It became the 7th highest grossing film of 1978 to be released in North America. It received mixed reviews from critics, but has been declared a "decent sequel" and has been called the best of the Jaws sequels.