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Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in June 1975. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.
The Steven Spielberg thriller Jaws opened nationwide on Friday, June 20, 1975, including theaters in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and New York City.
"Nothing short of an invasion of body snatchers is going to keep audiences away from 'Jaws,' the smash film version of Peter Benchley's popular novel about a shark who terrorizes a New England summer resort," wrote Frank Rich in the June 15, 1975 edition of The Detroit News. "Here at last is a suspense movie that delivers the goods, and delivers them without resorting to the idiotic all-star theatrics of the disaster films or the crypto-religiosity of 'The Exorcist'."
"Steven Spielberg's film version of Peter Benchley's bestseller, 'Jaws,' has all the earmarks of a blockbuster: action, suspense, excitement, originality, simplicity," wrote Detroit Free Press Film Critic Susan Stark on June 20, 1975. "A good commercial movie is one thing, however, and a good movie is another. 'Jaws,' like very few other major screen efforts, is both."
Jaws, which starred Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss, opened at seven theaters in the Detroit area: Americana Complex, Macomb Mall Cinema, Mai Kai, Pontiac Mall Cinema, Showcase Sterling Heights, Southgate, and just one Detroit theater (the Vogue on the upper east side).
It played at the Americana, Mai Kai, and Southgate until December 24, before making way for Christmas Day openings of The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (Gene Wilder) and The Hindenburg (George C. Scott). In the What's at the movies feature in The Detroit News of December 19, 1975, Jaws was the only movie listed in the Long runs section, with the comment, "The fish that's taken a large bite out of the American pocketbook."
The downtown Detroit theaters that for decades premiered major films were now showing movies aimed at action fans and the black audience. On June 20, 1975, the Adams was showing The Legend of Hell House and Cornbread, Earl and Me. Other movies that day included The Streetfighter and The Strangers Gundown at the Fox; Cooley High, Stud Brown, and I Spit on Your Grave at the Grand Circus; Mandingo at the Madison; and Truck Turner and Foxy Brown at the Palms.
Another trend was the conversion of many Detroit second run and art film theaters to XXX-rated theaters. The Gem Art near the Fox had formerly shown foreign language films and would later be remodeled into the Gem Theatre and moved a few blocks to make way for Comerica Park. Ads for XXX-rated movies were published in the Detroit Free Press, but not in The Detroit News.
Meanwhile, the suburban cinema scene was growing, particularly in the shopping malls that were part of the migration from city life. Also screening at the Americana Complex in Southfield with Jaws on June 20, 1975 were Tommy (Ann Margret, Oliver Reed, The Who); The Eiger Sanction (Clint Eastwood); and The Return of the Pink Panther (Peter Sellers).
The Redford Theatre had stopped showing movies regularly. The Motor City Theatre Organ Society was leasing the theater and would soon own it. The current classic movie series started two years later in July 1977. On June 20, 1975, the Redford did host a benefit screening of Fighting for Our Lives, about California farm workers.
In Ann Arbor, Jaws opened at the State. Also in town on June 20, 1975 were The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (Michael Sarrazin, Jennifer O'Neill) at the Michigan; Benji at the Wayside; The Return of the Pink Panther at the Fifth Forum; and Rosebud (Peter O'Toole, Richard Attenborough) at the Campus.
The Movies at Briarwood hosted The Eiger Sanction; Shampoo (Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn); Death Race 2000 (David Carradine); and Capone (Ben Gazzara). The Fox Village was screening a double feature of Harold and Maude (Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort) and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Richard Dreyfuss).
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