# Successes due to failure

1. Nov 25, 2007

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
I was listening to Steven Spielberg talk about the making of the movie JAWS. When the mechanical shark was first tested, it operated brilliantly for the first few seconds, but then it failed and sank to the bottom of the ocean. This put the shark out of commission for several weeks. At this point Spielberg couldn’t afford to wait and he was forced to film scenes in which the presence of the shark was implied, but the shark was never actually seen. This then became his motif for the entire movie and he estimates that it probably added $185 million to box office sales. Looking back, he now realizes that had the shark worked properly that first day, the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as effective. 2. Nov 25, 2007 ### brewnog How on earth did Spielberg estimate that a$185m sales increase occured due to a broken shark?

3. Nov 25, 2007

### Chi Meson

57% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

(First learned here on PF some years ago)

4. Nov 25, 2007

### neutrino

Every time you prove something by contradiction, it's a success due to a failure, but it isn't worth a penny.

5. Nov 25, 2007

### Mk

I was going to say that!

6. Nov 25, 2007

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Lordy lordy, it was a guess. You guys need to lighten up.

As one of the most if not the most successful director in history, he thinks this is why the movie was such a hit.

Talk about back-seat drivers!!!

Last edited: Nov 25, 2007
7. Nov 25, 2007

### brewnog

I wouldn't have questioned it if he'd said $200m, but$185m seems terribly precise for an estimate.

8. Nov 25, 2007

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Well, given that no one here knows how he arrived at that number, isn't it a little premature to say that it came from nowhere? Clearly it was a guess, but perhaps it was a guess based on specific information.

It seems to me that we have people who know nothing about this passing judgement. I can go the local bar and get that kind of input.

9. Nov 25, 2007

### Chi Meson

For the same reason, I didn't say "60 % of all statistics..."

And I, personally, never drive in the back seat! I'll clamber right over and wrest the steering wheel from their arthritic fingers when I feel like it!

And at the time I decide to lighten up, I shall endeavor to drill holes in my femur.

:snarky: :supercilious: :tongue:

It has been shown that people are far more scared of things they don't see.

10. Nov 25, 2007

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
It may have been an estimate based on box office sales for other movies that show the monster.

I wouldn't really call it success from failure, but more success from the unexpected or unintentional.

11. Nov 25, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

Success from failure would be post it notes and peanut brittle.

12. Nov 25, 2007

### wildman

Success from failure? Lets not forget the accidental Nobel Prize. Yes, two engineers won the Nobel by accident. Actually by failing.

The cosmic background radiation that verified the Big Bang Theory was discovered by three Bell Lab engineers trying to find the source of the noise in their antenna. They couldn't find the source because of the background radiation that is present in all directions. In 1978 the two who were still alive shared a Nobel Prize for the discovery. Talk about success from failure.

13. Nov 26, 2007

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
He had envisioned the movie entirely differently until his main character - the shark - failed, so I guess one could take a literal view of things. But as for your first comment, that was my thought as well: He may have been referencing some particular industry standard. At any rate, I guess I find it a bit annoying when threads get derailed due to minor objections. Okay, maybe he has no way to be so specific, or maybe he does, but the point was that he doesn't believe that the movie would have been so tremendously successful if the shark had worked properly that first day.

I was heavily into surfing and bodysurfing back then and that was the most amazing summer. The movie came out in June - I think it was June 21st for some reason...could I really remember that!?!?. Afterwards, for something on the order of a month, the S Cal beaches were virtually empty. People did slowly return, but even then the number of people in the water was clearly significantly reduced all summer. It made the surfing great because you didn't have to worry about all of the moving targets that were normally present. One thing that didn't help matters was a Great White a little over twenty feet long that was caught about ten miles offshore... I think later that summer... I remember seeing it at Sea World in San Diego. It was nearly as large as the shark in the movie was supposed to be. And I must admit, one day that summer I had a rather large fish hit my leg when I was treading water out beyond the breaks, and I about jumped out of my shorts!!!

Last edited: Nov 26, 2007
14. Nov 26, 2007

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Splain???

15. Nov 26, 2007

### Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
They had this great idea that if you put used paper in the washing machine, it would come out clean to be used again, but it just shrunk instead. That's how the post-it was invented

16. Nov 26, 2007

### Artman

Then everyone on the beach ran screaming. :yuck: :rofl:

I read that coconuts were used in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail to make horse sounds because a handlers strike did not allow the use of live horses. Made for several clever gags in that movie.