This time… It’s personal.
Widowed Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) still lives on Amity Island, with her eldest son Michael (Lance Guest) working as a marine biologist in the Bahamas and her youngest son Sean (Mitchell Anderson) as a deputy with the Amity Police. When Sean is killed by a shark while clearing a channel marker on Christmas Eve, Ellen is convinced that “the shark is following the family” and flees to the Bahamas. Settling in with Michael and his wife Carla (Karen Young) and their daughter Thea (Judith Barsi) Ellen is romanced by carefree pilot Hoagie (Michael Caine) while Michael and his partner Jake (Mario Van Peebles) are startled to discover the man-eater among them while diving for conch shells. Michael urges Jake not to tell Ellen but after an attack on the beach where Thea is nearly killed, Ellen commandeers Michael’s boat and sets off alone to do battle with the shark.
Shot from February to May 1987 in Martha’s Vineyard and the Bahamas on a budget of 20 million and released on July 17th, the film grossed $51,881,013 worldwide. It’s considered a direct sequel to “Jaws 2” as fans as well as Universal Studios do not consider “Jaws 3-D” part of the series. Roy Scheider declined a cameo – it would have been his character Martin Brody killed in the opening sequence – and Murray Hamilton had to decline a cameo as Mayor Vaughn due to declining health. Returning actresses Lee Fierro (Mrs. Kintner) and Fritzi Jane Courtney (Mrs. Taft) appeared briefly and an original script included a cameo for Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). But the film still performed far short of it’s predecessors and was scathingly reviewed. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it zero stars, calling it “stupid and incompetent” and took the time in his review to list everything that annoyed him, mostly all of the continuity and factual errors, and comedian Richard Jeni actually build a routine around this movie for his stand-up act. It was nominated for Worst Picture in the 1987 Golden Raspberry Awards and rated by Entertainment Weeklyas one of the “The 25 Worst Sequels Ever Made”. Lorraine Gary candidly admits she became involved for the money and the star billing, and Michael Caine claims to have never seen it but “it built him a terrific house.” The DVD includes an alternate ending and runs two minutes longer than the theatrical version and television prints offer a few extra scenes of character exposition with Michael and Jake and Ellen and Hoagie.