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Jaws captures the greatness of movie-to-pinball adaptations

We love a pinball chum bucket

A close up photograph of the playfield of the pinball table Jaws, focused on the open-mouthed shark beneath a boat Photo: Stern Pinball, Inc.
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Stern Pinball just launched a new pinball table based on Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller Jaws. It’s the latest in a long line of licensed movie-based games from Stern, which has released Jurassic Park, James Bond, Godzilla, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters-inspired tables over the past decade.

Jaws — purely based on photos of Stern’s new table; I haven’t played it yet — exemplifies what can be great about adapting properties for pinball. The table, designed by Keith Elwin, incorporates themes like a surprise great white shark appearance, the tension of harpooning said shark, and using a chum bucket to get ol’ Jaws’ attention. Naturally, it has samples of John Williams’ memorable score, and Stern even got Richard Dreyfuss back to record some voice lines for Jaws (e.g., “Shoot again!”).

Here are some of the cooler things about Stern’s new pinball table.

The Bloody Chum Bucket

One of the unique sculpts for Jaws is a chum bucket attached to a Newton ball assembly that, when struck, shakes the bucket to “chum the waters.” Stern illustrates this chumming effect with red LED lights underneath the main playfield; they light up in a pattern that makes it look like blood is streaming through the water.

A close up photograph of the playfield of the pinball table Jaws, focused on the chumming boat and “Shark!” light-up LED Photo: Stern Pinball, Inc.

The Shark Fin

When the water is sufficiently chummed, the shark will make its presence known with a fin target that moves left to right, which players have to strike. That’s one thing I love about pinball: Everything is solved with the bash of a pinball.

A close up photograph of the playfield of the pinball table Jaws, focused on the “Chum Line” area with a fin-shaped moving target Photo: Stern Pinball, Inc.

The Orca

On the limited edition and premium versions of Jaws — but not on the “pro” entry-level version — there’s a raised platform that’s supposed to represent the Orca, Quint’s fishing boat. It has its own mini-flipper and a steering wheel spinner. In a nice design touch, there’s also a big shark jaw shaped bite taken out of the boat’s rear signage.

A close up photograph of the playfield of the pinball table Jaws, focused on the raised playing field that represents the Orca fishing boat and lookout tower Photo: Stern Pinball, Inc.

The Wave Scoop

One way to launch your ball onto the Orca is this crashing wave-shaped scoop ramp that zooms the ball onto the ship’s deck. (Also, please appreciate the fishing reel-inspired horizontal spinner to the right of the boat.)

A close up photograph of the playfield of the pinball table Jaws, focused on the wave-scoop ramp that leads to the Orca fishing boat raised playfield Photo: Stern Pinball, Inc.

There are a ton of other details, as highlighted by Stern’s George Gomez and Keith Elwin, in the video below. Warning: It may inspire you to drop a few thousand dollars on a pinball table. The Jaws Pro Edition starts at $6,999, while the Premium Edition costs $9,699; the Limited Edition goes for a whopping $12,999.

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