Luke Owen with 5 things you didn’t know about the world of Jurassic Park…
With Jurassic World now officially the fastest movie to reach the $1 billion mark (in just thirteen days!), it seems as though the world has gone back to 1993 and dino-mania is running wild once again.
To celebrate the success of the movie, we’ve looked back through the history books to bring you five things you may not know about the Jurassic Park franchise.
1. Harrison Ford was nearly Dr. Alan Grant
Harrison Ford has always had a great working relationship with Steven Spielberg and his partner in crime George Lucas. Not only was he the star of Spielberg’s ode to adventure serials of the 1930s and 40s, Raiders of the Lost Ark and its subsequent Indiana Jones sequels, but he was also featured in American Graffiti and the Star Wars trilogy, the products of George Lucas. With such a strong relationship already in place, Spielberg went to Ford with an offer to play the part of Alan Grant, the paleontologist who would end up being played by Sam Neill in the final movie. At a 30th anniversary Q&A screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg told a story about how he approached Ford with the role, to which Ford simply responded with, “yeah” before trying to move the conversation on as quickly as possible. In subsequent interviews, Ford has admitted that after seeing the movie, he made the right call not to take on the role.
2. The novel of The Lost World: Jurassic Park was written to facilitate a sequel
Jurassic Park was such a mega success at the box office, that both Spielberg and Universal wanted to capitalise on its popularity and make a sequel. However, unlike the first movie, there wasn’t a book in place to base a film on. Even after the success of the first book, fans had begged Crichton to pen a sequel, but the author was not a fan of writing sequels to his work and thus lamented for years. But it was at the request of Steven Spielberg that Crichton finally took the plunge and penned what would become The Lost World. “When it became clear there was going to be a sequel (movie), I said ‘Steven, I’ll do a book and you do whatever you want in the movie,'” Crichton said in an interview on the special features on Jurassic Park trilogy box set. “It had that kind of loose quality to me.” And a loose adaptation it is. Borrowing just a few plot points here and there (a second island, Ian Malcolm being the hero, etc.) The Lost World: Jurassic Park bears little resemblance to the book on which it’s based. Up until he died, Crichton never seemed happy that he was talked into writing a second Jurassic Park novel. In an interview with Charlie Rose prior to the film’s release, Crichton said of the film, “I don’t see how it could be as big as Jurassic Park. It will be…. it is what it is.”
3. Jurassic Park went into production before the book was even published
Speaking of Crichton, production on the movie version of Jurassic Park began in 1989, one year before the novel was even published. Spielberg and Universal were so confident in the book’s success that they didn’t wait to see what the audience and critical reaction would be. Turns out they were right to believe it would be popular. The book became a best seller and would eventually become the author’s signature novel.
4. Jurassic Park killed Super Mario Bros.
During the late 80s and early 90s, Super Mario was one of the most recognisable faces in all of pop culture with some studies showing that he was more popular than the likes of The Incredible Hulk and second only to Mickey Mouse. He had not only changed the fortunes of Nintendo, but he also single handily revived the video game industry following the infamous market crash of 1983. Ten years later in the summer of 1993, a big budget adaptation of the movie was released. The movie had suffered a very difficult production and the critics were less than favourable to it. But Disney weren’t expecting good reviews (especially after seeing the movie). They instead banked on the film being a mega hit because of the title of the movie and marquee names like Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins. In the end though, it wasn’t the tumultuous production or bad reviews that killed Super Mario Bros., it was Jurassic Park. Super Mario Bros. didn’t get off to the best of starts, opening to just $8 million causing it to fall short of Made in America and Cliffhanger, but it still had a chance to recoup it’s budget and turn a small profit. However the film was destroyed just two weeks later when Jurassic Park stomped into theaters with a whopping $47 million opening weekend. There’s a reason why we don’t have a sequel to Super Mario Bros. – and it’s because there’s a T-rex shaped hole in its profit margin.
5. Jurassic Park III was filmed with an unfinished script
One of the most common complaints about Jurassic Park III is that the film feels incredibly rushed and almost unfinished. At just 93 minutes long including credits, Jurassic Park III barely qualifies as a feature length film and the end of the movie sees our heroes encounter some raptors, speak to them with Grant’s magic raptor mouth and then running onto a beach where they are promptly saved. There’s no tension, no drama and no satisfying conclusion. This is because Jurassic Park III went into production to facilitate a release date, even though the pre-production phase was far from finished. There was a script in place for the movie that saw a group of Pteranodon escape Site B and start causing havoc on the main land, causing a group of heroes to investigate them including Grant, a naturalist, a billionaire and his teenage son. However, five weeks before production began, director Joe Johnston and Steven Spielberg rejected the script and threw it out – despite having already spent $18 million on pre-production. Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park scribe David Koepp suggested a rescue mission plot, which was then scripted by new writers Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. In interviews since the film’s release Payne admitted that the script wasn’t even finished when they went into production and that, “we shot pages that eventually went into the final script, but we didn’t have a document.” During production, it was even unclear of what the film would be called, with some concept artists putting together marketing campaigns with the titles Jurassic Park: Extinction and Jurassic Park: Breakout. This would certainly explain why the film simply ends no big fanfare.
There are dozens of other facts that could have made this list, but this just a few small nuggets of fun info. Do you endorse this article?
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.