A look back at our dino obsession: Jurassic Park

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| June 18, 2022

We are almost at the end. As announced by Colin Trevorrow: Jurassic World Dominion will close down the story that started with Jurassic Park. It doesn’t mean we won’t have any more dino journeys; it just means that we’ll get different ones in the future. 

Adapting Michael Crichton’s acclaimed novel by the same title was a huge undertaking. Not many people know that Universal Pictures actually paid 2 million dollars for the rights to Crichton’s novel two years before it even got published. Who made that decision? The master (and a good friend of Crichton) Steven Spielberg: 

‘I just asked him casually, ‘After ER, what are you writing next?’ And he says, ‘I’m almost through with a book I’ve been working on for a couple of years.’ And I said, ‘What’s it about?’ Michael said, ‘Well, you know I never tell anybody my stories before they’re published.’ And I said, ‘Oh come on, Michael, just give me a clue!’ He said, ‘Okay, I’m gonna give you a clue. And I’m not gonna say anything more. I’m writing a book about dinosaurs and DNA.’ I leaped to my feet in my office and said, ‘I want to direct it.’

From James Mottram’s Jurassic Park – The Ultimate Visual History book.

T-Rex drawn by Lily K
Original Artwork by Lily K

Spielberg knew instantly that his friend, Michael Crichton, was working on something that could become the biggest success anyone had ever seen. And he was correct. 

If you want to know more about Jurassic Park’s creation, I highly recommend James Mottram’s Jurassic Park – The Ultimate Visual History book or The Movies That Made Us Netflix series. 

When Jurassic Park arrived in cinemas in 1993 (I was three years old), it was not just a massive commercial success but also a huge technical achievement. I think I was six years old when one night, as the strictly adult family members watched Jurassic Park on TV, I sneaked out of my room to see it too. I was a wild child. What I saw mesmerized me for life; sure, I had a few nightmares from it (I was 6!) but in my mind, what I saw was real and amazing. Let’s be fair here: Jurassic Park still stands in its place perfectly well among the now CGI-heavy movies. Thanks to Spielberg’s stubbornness, one thing was set in stone: The dinos HAVE to be mechanical, animatronic. However, Stan Winston’s animatronics only worked in close-up shots, but stop motion was a no go for a movie like this. Computer animation was the way forward. 

It was a huge undertaking, but it paved the way for the future. 

Original cast of Jurassic Park-Richard Attenborough, Martin Ferrero, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern
Richard Attenborough, Martin Ferrero, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern

Watching Jurassic Park even now fills me with wonder. It wasn’t just a great story about how people playing God could backfire horribly; it was also one that filled the soul with amazement. After it was released, the number of people who wanted to become paleontologists doubled. Dinosaurs were everywhere, and people wanted to learn about them, see them, and touch them. It was truly something to remember. 

Jurassic Park changed not only the film industry but also what people wanted from the movies. It got a second movie in 1997, once again based on Michael Crichton’s novel The Lost World, and everyone jumped at the opportunity to see the living, breathing dinosaurs again. Computer animation evolved so much that we got even more dinos in the second one and then even more in the third in 2001. But then the Jurassic franchise stopped there.

For us fans, it was a long wait. Even though there were rumors about the continuation, especially around 2005, it felt like it would never happen again. The interest in the dinosaurs died down potentially. Even though the number of documentaries about them grew exponentially, it felt like, for a long time, there was nothing more to look forward to when it came to this groundbreaking franchise. However, it all changed in 2014 when we got our first news of Jurassic World, and the rest became history. 

Velociraptor drawn by Lily K
Original artwork by Lily K

With Steven Spielberg returning as executive producer and Colin Trevorrow and J.A. Bayona directing, the Jurassic franchise returned with full force, and it proved how much people needed dinosaurs back in their life. It became a box office success and paved the way for even more. People were hungry to go back and experience it all over again. Although the first film got a bit of criticism because of the so-called “overuse” of computer animations on the dinos, by the second one (or more like the fifth one), we got back the good old animatronics in full force. And now, with Dominion, we get two generations of heroes together on a much larger scale than ever before. 

It won’t be the end of the Jurassic franchise, though; it will be just the closure of one chapter. With Camp Cretaceous, the animated Netflix series being a huge success, and Dominion already being a summer blockbuster, we can expect more to come. And our dino-loving hearts couldn’t be any happier. 

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