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Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘ORCA – Death Fish’


Orca: The Killer Whale is an unabashed Jaws ripoff. In fact, as the story goes, Dino De Laurentiis—the producer of this film and many others of note—made one request: for the writers of the film to find the biggest and baddest creature in the ocean.

They did, but simply having an animal that could best a great white shark did not equate to an awesome time at the movies. For a film centering on a vengeful killer whale’s journey to avenge the death of his mate and unborn calf, it’s rather uneventful. It lacks any of the tension that defined its inspiration. This could be solely attributed to its slapdash handling of the kills, or its lackluster script.

But the fact is: Orca, in its quest to best the behemoth shark of Jaws, never bothered to carve out a reason for its own existence. Audiences agreed. Earning just $14.7 million at the box office, it made barely above 3% of Jaws‘ total receipts ($470.7 million). Jaws, obviously, was beloved, so that comparison may be slightly unfair. 

The fin emerges in Orca: The Killer Whale

To put it in a more even perspective, Orca‘s returns were barely a tenth of the De Laurentiis-produced King Kong (roughly $90.2 million). That film came out just a year prior in 1976.

Money aside, the movie was a critical bomb, as well. With 31 reviews, it sits at 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. And, in all honesty, that’s probably right where it belongs.

Yet, if you find yourself in need of a preposterous film about a killer whale who never forgets the face of those who’ve wronged him, this is about the only one you can find. So sit back, utilize your second row teeth to gnaw into a Shadow of Death Imperial Stout from Snafu Brewing, and gas up the boat! I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. CashChumpzilla, and a special guest are following an asshole orca to the arctic for one last fight upon the seas!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction/Plot Breakdown – What if we did Jaws, but with a killer whale? That is the question Dino De Laurentiis sought the answer to. We are all quite sure it is one nobody else needed. (00:00)
  • Lingering Questions and the Crusading Widower Challenge – After some final questions, Capt. Cash challenges us to identify the film starring each bereaved hero on a quest for vengeance.(42:40)
  • Recommendations – Next up: We trade the perils of the ocean for the horrors of the untapped areas of the African jungle with our third entry in the “When Animals Attack” series, Congo! (1:00:41)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to check out all the interesting factoids—the haunting image of the rubber whale fetus and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbeanSpotifyAcastTuneIn, and iHeartRadio!

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Thomas L. Kelly

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