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Steven Spielberg stepped in to save a Jaws rip-off from the court room

You might expect Steven Spielberg to have a problem with a rip-off of his best movie, but he quite enjoyed this silly Jaws derivative in the late 1970s.

Steven Spielberg stopped Jaws rip-off Piranha from needing to go to court

Even though Steven Spielberg has made plenty of masterpieces over the years, none of them are as titanic as Jaws. It’s the ultimate Steven Spielberg movie and created the idea of the summer blockbuster, still standing as one of the best movies ever made almost half a century after it hit multiplexes.

Unsurprisingly, there have been new movies based around Amity Island and the Jaws story in the years since. In 1978, though, the first Jaws sequel was joined by the arrival of the campy spoof movie Piranha, directed by future Gremlins filmmaker Joe Dante and produced by cheap movie maestro Roger Corman.

Universal Pictures was not happy, and pursued an injunction against Piranha. Speaking as part of the new documentary movie Sharksploitation (reported via Entertainment Weekly), Dante explained that it was actually Spielberg himself who made sure that this Jaws parody ended up seeing the light of the day.

He said: “The second Jaws movie had come out right around the time of Piranha. Universal was very concerned and annoyed that Roger was putting out his rip-off of Jaws the same year that Jaws 2 was coming out and so they apparently threatened an injunction.

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“I discovered much later that Spielberg had stepped in and said: ‘No, you don’t get it, this is a spoof, this isn’t really a rip-off’, although it is a rip-off. And we basically got away with it, I guess is the phrase.”

In a neat twist on the story, Dante was then offered the chance to direct a third Jaws movie, which would have been a spoof-like spin on the franchise and was then known by a brilliantly camp moniker: Jaws 3, People 0.

Universal, though, wasn’t keen on the idea of a spoof. The threequel ultimately leaned into 3D technology instead, with Joe Alves helming Jaws 3-D in 1983. The franchise died a death in 1987 when fourquel Jaws: The Revenge was pretty universally derided as one of the worst movies ever made.

Joe Dante was briefly attached to Jaws 3-D

We’re not sure what the moral of this particular story is, but it’s fun to note that Spielberg had a sense of humor about his biggest success. As they say, imitation is ths sincerest form of flattery.

For more on the best Steven Spielberg movies, find out how Steven Spielberg predicted the future of Westerns with this movie and learn why Denzel Washington took the best movie advice from Steven Spielberg.

Or go see The Meg true story and why shark movies are a nightmare to get right.