The story behind John Hancock’s Jaws 2

Jaws 2-1

With the release of Jaws 2 on Blu Ray earlier this year, I managed to catch a documentary about the making of the film.

The interesting thing that stood out for me, was that it wasn’t Jeannot Szwarc who was orginally slated to direct, but John D. Hancock.

He had previously worked on films such as ‘Let’s Scare Jessica to Death’ and ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’, and his vision was certainly very different than the one released in cinemas in 1978.

Supposedly it is set four years after the fact and the town of Amity is suffering from an economic crisis brought on by the events of the first film.

Residents are struggling to make ends meet, stores have closed – shuttered windows hiding their dark interiors – sad beach cottages have “FOR RENT” signs dangling from the fences and beaches are empty.

It’s in stark contrast to the colorful and vibrant town seen in the first film. Larry Vaughan (Murray Hamilton) is still the town’s mayor. He’s looking more tired and weary than ever before. Things haven’t been good.

Amity Shores – is a new beach hotel being constructed to hopefully tempt people and eventually business back into the town.

Vaughan also has a new ally, Resort Enterprises representative Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo), the man bringing “a whole new lease on life” and who is also described in Tristan’s script as “impressive looking” and having “an air of good-humored irony”.

Somewhat different to the role Mascolo would eventually portray in the film.

But after just a month working on the film, Hancock was fired from the project after disagreements on set with one of the actresses who was well connected at Universal.

Originally as well Lorraine Gary’s Ellen Brody was barely featured, and after words were exchanged it was decided her role would be beefed up too.

Jeffrey Kramer’s Deputy was also not in the original script – something Szwarc took care of with his version of the film.

There is only one shot from Hancock’s vision in the finished film, the shot above, which Steven Spielberg himself had advised on including.

It seems Jaws 2 would have been a more serious, and maybe more political if Hancock would have stayed on board. This would have meant a bigger role for Murray Hamilton’s Mayor, but as the documentary stated, he had limited time on set because his wife was diagnosed with cancer.

Just to note there wasn’t any burnt face shark in the original script either.

What do you think about that vision for Jaws 2 then? Would it have been better? Let us know in the comments below.



  1. Jaws 2 was very similar in all aspects to the original. It was very strange to the viewer as to how the towns folk seemed to have memory loss of what had happened years earlier with the original shark attack. To be reasonable I don’t think life would have just gone back to normal. I think the town would have had a hugh stigma. Therefore, I personally would have loved to have seen a darker, political somber Jaws 2 which would have been more realistic.


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