MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Massachusetts (Reuters) – After 35 years, people haven't tired of talking about or watching Steven Spielberg's quintessential summer movie "Jaws."
The shark-in-the-water thriller remains competitive on the Hollywood blockbuster list, having raked in over $470 million at box offices worldwide. Composer John Williams' ominous two-note "shark" theme is known by kids and adults of all ages, whether they've seen the movie or not.
The buzz is particularly strong on the original "Jaws" movie set -- the beaches and towns across Martha's Vineyard, which portrayed the fictional Amity Island in the 1975 film based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel.
On the Vineyard, it's almost as easy find a resident who played an extra in the flick as it is to buy an ice-cream cone.
Most extras were kids back then, and paid $5 a day to swim in the ocean, play on the beach, and most importantly, run screaming from the water when Jaws -- more affectionately known by those involved with the movie as Bruce, a mechanical shark -- was approaching.
"It changed scary movies completely," said Tina Miller, a lifelong resident of the Vineyard, who was an extra in the movie alongside her father and brother.
Tom Smith, now a police officer in the Edgartown neighborhood, was a third grader when he played an extra in the original "Jaws," in junior high when he was cast for the sequel, and took a week off from college to do special security for "Jaws: The Revenge," the fourth film in the series.
"The people who were involved in the movie are proud of that," he said. "It's part of the identity of those people."
NO CRASS PROMOTION
"Jaws" is also part of the Martha's Vineyard brand. The lore surrounding the film draws fans from across the globe for a glimpse at the beach where young Alex Kintner was snapped from his raft, or the empty plot in the sleepy fishing village of Menemsha where crews built shark-hunter Quint's cottage.
Martha's Vineyard, a 45 minute ferry ride off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for its low-key, private style and remains a sought-after vacation destination.
Scenic beaches, spectacular sunsets and vacationing U.S. presidents have long been a feature, but "Jaws" has contributed steadily over the years to an economy reliant on tourism dollars.
There are no stands hawking "Jaws" t-shirts near the ferry dock, nor billboards pronouncing it the home of the famous great white shark. There isn't even an official tour of filming locations.
But if prompted, local taxi drivers will eagerly offer anecdotes from the summer of 1974 and point out "Jaws bridge," where the giant shark famously swam into the pond.
The most widely publicized celebration to date was five years ago, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the movie's release. The island hosted JAWSfest 2005, a three-day celebration with an open air screening that attracted more than 4,000 visitors and island residents.
Fans are clamoring for another such event. And island businesses, eager to recover from a dip in tourism during the recession, would be eager for the boost.