In 1993, Steven Spielberg unleashed Jurassic Park into the world. The dinosaur epic “65 million years in the making” became the highest-grossing film of all time (at the time) and spawned a massive franchise. Two dino-filled sequels were made before the park expanded into a whole huge world. With the latest installment of the Jurassic franchise, Jurassic World: Dominion out, let’s take a look behind the scenes at one of the longest-standing film franchises of all time. This is everything you need to know about Jurassic Park and its larger-than-life sequels!
Steven Spielberg Almost Wasn’t The Director
Before author Michael Crichton had even finished writing the novel Jurassic Park, movie studios were chomping at the bit to get it made. Because of his friendship with the writer, Steven Spielberg was able to convince him to sell it to Universal.
Selling Universal on Spielberg directing the movie, though, was a different story. During the film’s development, several A-list directors were considered including Tim Burton and James Cameron. At the end of the day, Crichton convinced the studio that Spielberg was the man for the job, returning the director’s earlier favor.
The First Film Only Has 15 Minutes Of Dinosaurs
For as vividly as we remember the dinosaurs in the first Jurassic Park, the truth is they are rarely seen in the movie. In total, there are 15 minutes of dino-tastic footage. Nine of those minutes are with practical effects, while the other six involve computer-generated imagery (CGI).
That means when the T-rex is on screen, it steals every second. Whan a pack of raptors are being featured, they chew up their time with glee. As the franchise moved forward, more time was spent on the creatures and less on the characters trying to stay alive.
Jurassic Park 4 Was Going To Involve Dino-Human Hybrids
After Jurassic Park III came out and underwhelmed both financially and critically, producers went back to the drawing board for Jurassic Park 4. The long-in-development third sequel had some crazy iterations, but none crazier than the version that involved dinosaur-human hybrids who would act as super soldiers.
Surprisingly, part of this idea exists in Jurassic World. InGen wants to exploit the training of the velociraptors so they can be used for militaristic operations. Just imagine how much crazier it could have been!
The Raptors Were All Wrong
As he began making Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg had this idea that the velociraptors needed to be around 10 feet tall. In reality, no raptor of that size had ever been discovered. They were actually around one and a half feet tall.
The franchise has been criticized for this inaccuracy, although Spielberg might actually get the last laugh. During the making of the first film, a new genus of raptor was discovered that was six and a half feet tall!
Jurassic Park III Was A Mashup Of Unused Ideas
If you’ve ever watched Jurassic Park III when the credits started rolling and you thought to yourself, “that felt disjointed,” there’s a reason for that. The script for the film used several ideas that were cut from both Jurassic Park and The Lost World.
As a result, Jurassic Park III feels like a collection of exciting action scenes barely stitched together by a nonsensical plot. That doesn’t mean that the second sequel didn’t bring anything new to the table, though.
The Spinosaurus Animatronic Set A Record
If Jurassic Park III was made it today, it’s more than likely that the film’s spinosaurus would be created with CGI effects. Thankfully, the movie was made at a time when practical effects still ruled, so a giant animatronic dinosaur was built for the film’s villain.
The massive special effect was so big it set the record for the biggest animatronic puppet ever made. With a final weight of 12 tons, the hydraulically-controlled machine could be operated in any condition, which was good considering that the end of the film takes place in a river!
Ariana Richard’s Blood-Curdling Scream Got Her Cast As Lex
Steven Spielberg knew what he wanted when it came to casting Lex in Jurassic Park — a young actress with a terrifying scream. Ariana Richards ended up with the winning scream and this is how the director knew she was the one.
While watching audition tapes of young actresses screaming, Ariana’s voice was the only one that woke up Kate Capshaw, Spielberg’s wife. She rushed into the room, fearing that one of her own children was in danger, and that was all the director needed to know.
Ariana Richards Walks The Red Carpet In 2022
Little Lex is all grown up! In 2022, actress Ariana Richards walked the red carpet at the preview for Jurassic World: Dominion– would you recognize her?
After all of these years, the cast of the original Jurassic film is still happy to look back on one of the most memorable films in box office history. Don’t expect to see Richards in any new films, however. Her last role was Donna Voorhees in Battledogs (2013).
Jim Carrey Was Nearly Cast As Ian Malcolm
Today it’s virtually impossible to see any actor besides Jeff Goldblum playing Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. During casting, however, a number of other actors were considered including Jim Carrey. Producers liked him but were concerned about his public “funny man” persona.
Ian Malcolm was supposed to be a rock star of science, and the worry was that casting Carrey would have made the character feel fake. Luckily for everyone involved, Goldblum ended up in the role, which he has reprised twice in sequels, with a third appearance coming up.
Jurassic World 3 Is Getting The Whole Gang Back Together
While actors from Jurassic Park have appeared in sequels, they have not appeared together on screen since 1993. All this is set to change with Jurassic World 3 comes out in 2021. Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum are officially signed on.
Neil’s Dr. Alan Grant was the main character of the first film and was a central part of the third film, which also featured Dern’s Ellie Satler briefly. Goldblum took over leading man duties in The Lost World and made a cameo appearance in Fallen Kingdom.
The T-Rex Animatronic Failed… A Lot
Steven Spielberg must have been feeling some strong deja vu when filming Jurassic Park. The T-rex animatronic, just like the great white robot in Jaws, constantly failed on set. The difference is the T-rex going rogue didn’t cause nearly as much trouble.
At first, crew members must have thought the puppet was haunted as it would suddenly come to life during lunch. Once they figured out what the problem was it became more of a multi-ton annoyance than anything else.
One T-rex Malfunction Made It Into The Movie
One of the most famous scenes in Jurassic Park happens when the T-rex leans over the Jeep and breaks the glass roof, nearly crushing the children inside. This terrifying scene wasn’t originally supposed to be so death-defying.
The T-rex animatronic was so heavy that when it leaned down, it briefly malfunctioned, popping the glass out of place. The screams from the young actors are their genuine reactions to the terrifying situation. Thankfully no one was hurt and the surprising moment ended up making it into the final cut of the movie.
There Was A Nod To Godzilla In The Lost World
Jurassic Park: The Lost World was the second film in the Jurassic Park franchise and the first to bring the dinosaurs to the mainland. In one exciting set-piece, the T-rex rampages through San Diego, California, tearing the city apart.
To go along with all the destruction, Spielberg made sure to include an homage to the Godzilla franchise of films. As Japanese tourists are fleeing the scene, they shout, “I left Japan to get away from this!”
BD Wong Was Key To Continuity
In Jurassic World, BD Wong returned to the franchise as Dr. Henry Wu, one of the original geneticists for Jurassic Park. The inclusion of his character serves as a way to provide continuity in the soft franchise reboot.
Wong was then brought back for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and is expected to return for Jurassic World 3 as well. Whether he is given a redemptive story arc is up for debate however, as he was revealed to have sinister intentions in Jurassic World.
Jeff Goldblum Refused To Run
In the book Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm might be a science rock star, but he’s also a coward. When the T-rex attacks the jeep with the kids inside, his character runs away to safety. In the movie, Malcolm gets the T-rex to chase him, saving the kids in the process.
When the script was written, it actually stayed true to the book. Jeff Goldblum refused to let his character be portrayed this way and pitched a more heroic scene to Spielberg.
The T-Rex In Jurassic World Is The Same One From Jurassic Park
What would a Jurassic Park movie be without the T-rex? In Jurassic World, the famous dinosaur is saved until the end, when it battles for dominance over the Indominus rex after being released from its pen by Claire.
For anyone wondering, the T-rex in the finale is the same one from Jurassic Park. When crafting the creature, visual effects artists rewatched the original film and mapped out any scars it had, replicating them for the reboot. Most importantly, the battle wounds from the velociraptor attack at the end of Jurassic Park needed to be added.
Jurassic World Was Written In Three Weeks
Once the story of Jurassic World was agreed upon, the script needed to be written. Universal was eager to get production rolling and was prepared to greenlight a version of the screenplay written in three weeks.
Steven Spielberg must not have been thrilled with the script though, because he convinced the studio to pause production until he was happy. In September 2013, the master filmmaker finally read a script that made him smile. Filming then began in April 2014.
Jimmy Buffet Makes A Cameo
One blink and you’ll miss a cameo by Jimmy Buffet that happens near the end of Jurassic World during the chaos at the park’s city walk. The famous musician is seen running away from the carnage with two margaritas.
His restaurant, Margaritaville, is one of the dining options at the park, so it only makes sense that he would be there, right? The clever cameo is one of several easter eggs director Colin Trevorrow included in the final cut of the film.
The Controversy Over High Heels
Jurassic World set records when it was released in theaters in 2015, while simultaneously sparking debate about running in high heels. During the film, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character wears high heels that left many fans felt were unrealistically athletic.
The actress defended the decision of footwear, and even demanded the high heels return in Fallen Kingdom. In the second World movie, however, the heels appear much more appropriate for running scenes.
A Star Wars Connection
The antagonist dinosaur of Jurassic World, the Indominus rex, is a mashup of several other dinos and animals. In the original script written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, there was more than just one “Franken-dino.”
Then Trevorrow showed Star Wars to his son, who said if other Jedis were in the film Luke Skywalker would have felt less special. The director realized how wise his five-year-old son’s words were and scrapped plans for extra hybrid dinosaurs.
A Bigger Opportunity Lost
After directing Jurassic World, Disney execs were so impressed with Colin Trevorrow that they signed him on to direct Star Wars VIII. After Fallen Kingdom came out, which he wrote but didn’t direct, Trevorrow left the space opera. Or was he fired?
The official word on him leaving after Fallen Kingdom received a negative reception was that “creative differences” caused the split. Not one to cry over spilled milk, he quickly began working on Jurassic World 3, which he is also directing. Meanwhile, J.J. Abrams jumped on board to direct and rewrite Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.