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Steven Spielberg Recalls How a Man Puked on the Theater Floor During an Early Screening of Jaws

We just hope said upchuck during the early Jaws screening was repurposed into chum for later use.

By Josh Weiss
A cartoon man vomits over a photo from Jaws (1975)

That tiger shark in Jaws wasn't the only thing to empty out the contents of its stomach.

While recalling his memories of the film's very first preview screening (held at the Medallion Theatre in Dallas) to author and fellow filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau, director Steven Spielberg recalled how one audience member vomited directly onto the theater floor in response to the death of young Alex Kintner (played by Jeffrey Voorhees).

That Time a Man Puked During a Preview Screening of Jaws

"A man got up and started walking out — I thought, 'Oh my God. Our first walkout,'" he states in the upcoming book Spielberg: The First Ten Years (via Vanity Fair). "Then he began running and I went, 'Oh, no, he’s not walking out — he’s running out.' I could tell he was headed for the bathrooms, but he didn’t make it and vomited all over the floor. And I just went, 'Oh my God, what have I done? What kind of a movie have I made? A man has just barfed because of my film.'"

RELATED: Steven Spielberg Reveals How a Memorable Father-Son Moment in Jaws Helped Inspire E.T.

About five minutes later, however, the man "went right back to his seat," as though nothing had happened. One can only hope his upchuck didn't go to waste and that it was repurposed into a bucket of chum for later use. Okay, never mind — that's pretty gross. Nevertheless, the fact that the guy didn't just leave after that proved Spielberg and Universal had something special on their hands.

The advanced screening served as a major vindication for the 27-year-old Spielberg, whose filmmaking career had nearly sunk off the shores of Martha's Vineyard. The arduous production involving an animatronic shark that refused to behave when the crew needed it most instantly melted away in the light of moviegoers screaming their heads off at the birth of the modern summer blockbuster.

"I’d had only one experience prior to this with The Sugarland Express, where the preview audience just kept quiet the entire time," he says in the book. "But with Jaws, it was very, very loud and people went crazy. This preview was the most extraordinary response I could ever have imagined."

Published by Insight Editions and distributed by Simon & Schuster, Spielberg: The First Ten Years goes on sale Tuesday, October 24. Pre-order a copy for yourself right here!

Jaws (and its three sequels) are available to purchase via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Want even more creature-based thrills? Head over to Peacock for Cocaine Bear, Q: The Winged Serpent, Van Helsing, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The Golem, Piranha, The Void, and more!