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Steven Spielberg's secret reference to James Bond and Live And Let Die in the movie Jaws

27 November, 2013

The license plate found in the dead body of a tiger shark in the classic Steven Spielberg movie Jaws (1975) seems to contain more than one reference to the James Bond movie Live And Let Die (1973). A coincidence, or Spielberg's subtle open solicitation for directorship of the next Bond film?

Jaws movie poster 1975When I was watching the movie Jaws again recently, I noticed the all familiar number 007 on the license plate that Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) finds during the autopsy of the carcass of the tiger shark, caught early on in the movie. The full number of the license plate number reads 007 o 981. Could be a coincidence, I thought. Until I paused the movie and looked closer.

On closer inspection, the license plate appears to be from Louisiana, the state where a big part of the (then most recent) James Bond film Live And Let Die was filmed and takes place. On each side of the word Louisiana, the years '72 and '73 are written, exactly the years that Live And Let Die was produced and released.

007 981 license plate jaws

The license plate in Steven Spielberg's movie Jaws has more than one reference to James Bond and Live And Let Die
image © Universal Pictures 

LouisianaOn the top of the plate it says "Sportsmen's Paradise" the state's slogan. The slogan is also clearly visible in Live And Let Die on the road sign that sheriff J.W. Pepper hides behind, see image on the right. (Note that the license plate spells Sportmen's with an "e" instead of an "a" as officially used in the Louisiana slogan).

The reason for the reference could be that Steven Spielberg was actually very interested in directing a James Bond movie, as he recently revealed. Spielberg was turned down twice by Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli as a director for the James Bond series. The first time was right after Jaws, and the second time was after Spielberg's other successful film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Broccoli told him he wasn’t good enough. “No matter how successful I was, he wouldn’t let me in the front door,” Spielberg told famous Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan in a 2012 interview.

If the license plate is a clear nod from Steven Spielberg to a James Bond movie, then the Bond producers might have flirted back with their hommage to the famous shark in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, when they introduced the Bond franchise's most popular henchman, named... Jaws. This character, famous for his strong steel-capped teeth, played by Richard Kiel, was supposed to be killed off by a shark at the end of the film, but the producers felt the character was so likeable, that they actually had Jaws survive the shark attack, so he would be able to return in the next film Moonraker (1979).

Other fun facts

The 1999 shark horror movie Deep Blue Sea features the same license plate as an homage to Jaws. The license plate pulled from the shark's teeth at the beginning of the movie is the same as the one found in the tiger shark carcass from the 1975 Steven Spielberg film.

Update: as mentioned in the comments below, the license plate also appears in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015) and in Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018).

007 981 license plate jaws replicaGet a good replica of the 007 981 license plate on ($17) or on (£14).

Further reading

12 major Jaws references in other movies

Steven Spielberg turned down twice as director of James Bond films

The Daily Jaws blog

Author: Remmert van Braam - founder of Bond Lifestyle
Original Post Date: November 27, 2013 - Last update: September 16, 2022

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Very interesting. I'm a huge fan of the Bond series, and needless to say, love the movie "Jaws". I've often wondered about the "007" licence plate reference, but I picked up on a different Bond reference. In the movie "Diamonds Are Forever" there is a scene where Bond is smuggling some diamonds into the U.S. in a dead body. Felix Leiter meets Bond, posing as a customs officer, and goes through the motion of trying to find the goods. Leiter say's... "Okay, I know the diamonds are in the body, but where???" Bond replies in a Sherlock Holmes tone "Alimentary Mr. Leiter" Is it just a coincidence that Hooper states that's where he's going to begin the incision, and then finds the plate??? Perhaps. One further nerdy point about this connection, and granted I'm digging here. The screen writers regretted putting the alimentary line in "Diamonds" because only a handful of people picked up on it. Fast forward to the set of Jaws when Speilberg was handed the hand of swimmer Chrissy who was killed at the beginning of the movie. He told the F/X guy that it looked fake. The F/X guy told him that's what the hand would look like after sitting in the surf for a few hours, but Speilberg replied that he wasn't making the movie for the 1 person in the theatre who would know that. Anyhoo, some food for thought.
The plate also appears in "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!"
The same license plate was featured in Sharknado 3
The license plate also shows up in "Wreck It Ralph 3: Ralph Breaks the Internet"

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Connolly x 007