When Jurassic Park, based on the book by Michael Crichton, was released in 1993 it was immediately hailed as one of the most popular and innovative blockbusters of the modern age. Its epoch defining special effects juxtaposed with a very human story combining to create one of the highest grossing films to this day. Overnight, Steven Spielberg had created a whole new generation of aspiring palaeontologists whilst simultaneously ingraining the T-Rex and Velociraptor into popular culture.
Naturally, sequels emerged with The Lost World appearing five years later to monumental anticipation and Jurassic Park III in 2001. The movies progressively became more underwhelming, possibly because of the lack of the initial wow factor that shocked audiences in 1993, or perhaps due to weaker scripts and more emphasis on showing as many dinosaurs eating as many people as possible. Both films still have their merits and are still very enjoyable action romps that enjoyed a successful time at the box office. It was inevitable that JPIV would be just around the corner to provide audiences with another look at the wonders of the CGI dinosaurs and bring back some favourite characters. However, this has not come to pass.
It was been eleven years since the last instalment of Jurassic Park. There have been press releases, small articles and enough rumours to fill a T-Rex paddock as to what’s happening with JPIV. It has very much found its way into the briny depths of development hell in which only through constant speculation can it see the light. Now planned for a prospective 2014 release, according to Frank Marshall, it has been astonishing to see the ups and downs of a film stuck in the pre-production phase. Here is a brief assessment of where JPIV has been for the past decade.
A couple of years after JPIII, Spielberg wanted to do another sequel in which he produced and its director Joe Johnson directed. This all seemed fine, but it was the film’s script which held up proceedings, none of which satisfied Spielberg. Unlike JPI and II there was no source material to draw upon and therefore the story would come from scratch. Over the years everyone from William Monahan, John Sayles and currently Rick Jaffa has been linked with writing or re-writing the script. Sayles’ script infamously being released online showing his intentions to have dinosaurs mixed with the DNA of dogs to create a breed of gun carrying mercenaries, trained to fight Jurassic Park’s original Dinosaurs that have been wreaking havoc in America.
The internet rumours have also sprung up from actors starring or returning (Sam Neill, Keira Knightly, Richard Attenborough) to potential plotlines (Dinosaurs in space) as well as some truly awful fake YouTube trailers, so bad, that I avoid giving you a link to them for your own protection.
With the release date getting pushed back further and further due to lack of a good script and Spielberg being very busy, out of the blue within an old Total Film magazine in 2008 came the revelation that the new Jurassic Park will be the beginning of a new trilogy. This was very intriguing but that prospect disappeared quite quickly. Probably because where would a trilogy of scripts come from if you can’t find one.
2008 was a decisive year for JPIV. First of all Spielberg’s, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull happened to the dismay of many fans of the original trilogy. With this and the recent Star Wars prequels leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many audience members, people began to question bringing back a franchise that should have been left. If that wasn’t enough two factors against production would come in quick succession in the guise of tragedy. First, the most famous visual effects and makeup artist, Stan Winston, who had worked on the first three films providing the design and effects of the dinosaurs, sadly passed away. Then, a few months later Jurassic Park’s creator Michael Crichton also died. At this point many thought the franchise should be put to bed including producer Kathleen Kennedy who said “I really think that with Michael Crichton’s passing, that’ll be it for the series.” It seemed, that was it for Jurassic Park.
A year later however, saw Joe Johnson speaking about the possibility of a new story that goes off in a “completely different direction”. He had a great story which didn’t consist of people going back on the island. There was utter confusion due to as many people saying it was happening as it wasn’t. Finally, at Comic Con 2011 Spielberg confirmed they have this story and JPIV is going to happen “in all our foreseeable futures”. There is very little confirmed, so could this be another case of teasing the audience with prospects and not delivering? Producer Frank Marshall disagrees, stating that the film will have its Summer 2014 release.
Personally, I hope this is the case. Jurassic Park has always been one of my favourite movies and is loved by so many people. Surely Spielberg wouldn’t lie about there being a great story, and with the writers of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I’m brimming with anticipation to see the franchise back. As long as the dinosaurs aren’t carrying guns…