After a long wait of 14 years, the fourth instalment of the Jurassic Park franchise is upon us. Within the next couple of weeks we'll be able to see a fully fledged dino-park on the big screen, and then watch everything go to hell.
Despite misgivings from Gerald and palaeontologists alike, the film still looks bloody amazing. I mean, who doesn't love dinosaurs? We certainly do, and to commemorate the release of Jurassic World we have collected a few interesting facts about the franchise.
1.) Jurassic World nearly had freaky human / dino hybrids
Rumours of a fourth Jurassic Park film had been circulating since the release of Jurassic Park III back in 2001. Ideas from the film varied according to reports, including ideas that the film would involve a third island where InGen had been engineering aquatic dinosaurs or the prospect of human/dinosaur hybrids.
Apparently Keira Knightly was approached for one role, and both Richard Attenborough and Laura Dern were contacted about reprising their roles from previous films.
2.) John Hammond was not a very nice man in the books
Most people will know John Hammond as the friendly Father Christmassy-type man played by the eldest, now sadly deceased Attenborough brother. In the original book Hammond is a completely different character: he is an arrogant man, and only interested in opening Jurassic Park to make a profit, something that in the film Hammond frowned upon. He was prone to mood swings, and often seemed to care more about the safety of the dinosaurs than the people in his employ.
Think of Peter Ludlow (the villain of The Lost World: Jurassic Park played by Arliss Howard), and that's the kind of person book Hammond is. [Spoiler Alert] Hammond also dies at the end of the first book, and one discarded Jurassic Park ending saw him marooned on the island while the other visitors escaped in helicopters. Speaking of which...
3.) The first book killed off some major characters
In the first Jurassic Park film, most of the nice characters made it out in tact. In the book they were not so lucky. In addition to the loss of John Hammond, Michael Crichton also chose to kill off Dr Henry Wu (who is set to appear in Jurassic World) and Ian Malcolm.
The death of Malcolm (who was eventually played by Jeff Goldblum) would eventually be retconned after support from fans and Stephen Spielberg convinced Crichton to write a sequel novel. Oddly Robert Muldoon, the man in charge of the velociraptors, was not killed in the book. Clearly the girl wasn't clever enough in the original source material.
4.) The internet has taken to blaming the disasters in the first film on one man
A lot of bad things happened in Jurassic Park, and while it's obvious that every single problem was caused by the lumbering Dennis Nedry, the internet has other ideas. Some intrepid fans watched through the credits and found the film's 'dinosaur supervisor' Phil Tippett. In reality Tippett is a director and visual effects supervisor who specialises in creature creation. Still that hasn't stopped the world from criticising him for not keeping the dinosaurs in check.
Tippett was not involved in The Lost World or Jurassic Park III, but he did do some work on Jurassic World. Expect him to get a lot more online 'hate' after the film is released.
5.) Rather than CGI, it was nearly "the most advanced stop-motion film ever"
The first Jurassic Park film was released way back in 1993, back in the days before George Lucas realised he could film almost an entire trilogy in front of a giant green sheet in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. Realistic CGI animals had never been done before, and Jurassic Park proved to be a landmark film by doing it for the very first time.
The funny thing is it almost never happened. Spielberg apparently wanted the film to have practical effects, and wanted to use stop-motion combined with CG motion blur. What changed his mind was ILM animator Steve 'Spaz' Williams animating a T-Rex in secret. As soon as execs saw the work they were sold on the idea of CGI dinos.
6.) Despite that, it still relied on good old-fashioned costumes and animatronics
The CG may have been impressive and groundbreaking work, but that didn't mean the film only relied on digital dinos. People working on the picture later commented that the film probably had about 15 solid minutes of dino action, but only six of those were accomplished with CGI. The rest? That was done with costumes and impressive animatronics.
A good example is the film's velociraptors, which were created using a combination of man-in-suit technology and animatronics before being enhanced with CGI. There was also a full-size animatronic T-Rex that would frequently scare the bejesus out of members of the crew.
Later on the Spinosaurus in Jurassic Park III would, at the time, become the largest animatronic ever created, weighing a colossal 12 tonnes. Jurassic World will apparently not feature any animatronics (so they must just be using real dinosaurs, right? No? CGI?Oh.)
7.) The director of Jurassic Park III wanted to direct The Lost World
After the success of Jurassic Park director Joe Johnston approached Steven Spielberg to express his interest in directing the film's sequel The Lost World. While Spielberg's original idea has been to produce the sequel, he instead chose to direct it himself. Johnston was then given Spielberg's permission to direct a third Jurassic Park film, if it ever got greenlit. In the end there was, and it wasn't very good. [Image: The Conmunity/Flickr]
8.) Jurassic Park films have a long history of ignoring palaeontologists
The recent controversy about the makers of Jurassic World disregarding paleontological evidence in the film isn't the first time the franchise has strayed away from the realms of science fact and into the world of science fiction.
For one thing, most of the dinosaurs in the first film and book aren't even from the Jurassic period of history, a fact which Michael Crichton explained away as coming up with the most interesting title. Would Cretaceous Park have sounded as cool? Maybe not. And remember the venom spitting Dilophosaurus? That ability was completely made up by Michael Crichton for dramatic effect. It didn't have a frilled neck either.
Oh, and the velociraptors? They are completely different from the real thing, leading us nicely on to...
9.) The series' velociraptors actually bear more similarities to Utahraptors
Remember that annoying kid at the start of the first movie? The one who claims the velociraptor is basically an overgrown turkey? He's not that far from the truth. In reality velociraptors were a lot smaller than depicted on screen, and had feathered skin. However, during production palaeontologists discovered a new type of dinosaur dubbed 'Utahraptors' which were incredibly similar to the ones present in the Jurassic Park series
The discovery led to effects creator Stan Wilson to joke that "We [the designers] made it, then they discovered it". [Image: Salvatore Alcon via About.com]
10.) You can thank Jurassic Park for the creation of Jar Jar Binks
The filming schedule on Jurassic Park was incredibly tight, and Spielberg had to be finished on time so that he could go off and film Schindler's List. This didn't leave him with any time to deal with the post-production, so he handed the reigns to his good friend, and owner of ILM, George Lucas.
George Lucas apparently felt that he'd never be able to make the Star Wars prequels because the technology wasn't up to scratch, but Jurassic Park convinced him that it would be possible to put places like Coruscant on the big screen using digital effects. Then he came up with Jar Jar.
On a more positive note, it also provided Peter Jackson with some of the inspiration to film Lord of the Rings.
11.) Raptor cries were created using tortoise sex noises
Obviously there was a problem when creating the dinosaur cries for the movies, since we don't have any real world examples to work with. Instead the crew in charge of the sound opted to experiment with combinations of animal cries to get the desired effect, which is a popular technique in the world of film. The oddest one, though? The raptor cries started off as the noises made by turtles during sex. There are a few other animals thrown into the mix, but still some of the sound engineers actually listened to examples of copulating turtles to try and make that iconic squawk.
The T-Rex's titanic growl was apparently based on that of a baby elephant, and included examples of cries from lions, tigers, alligators, and according to some sources, penguins.
12.) The girls who auditioned for the part of Lex were asked to record their screams
Jurassic Park features an awful lot of screaming from the two child actors involved, but did you know that screaming was actually part of the audition for the character of Lex? The girls who auditioned for the role were asked to record their screams, to gauge their suitability for the part. Ariana Richards claims that part of the reason she won the role because her scream caused Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg's wife, to wake up and rush off to see if her children were alright.
13.) Jurassic Park: The Ride cost almost twice as much to make as the film
Before Jurassic Park was even released, Universal Studios was hard at work developing a ride for its park in Hollywood. Considering Jurassic Park had to bring convincing dinosaurs to life on screen, and built a full-size animatronic T-Rex, it surprisingly cost an awful lot less to produce and release than the ride. The final budget for Jurassic Park was $63 million. The total cost of developing Jurassic Park: The Ride was around $110 million. [Image: Universal Orlando]
14.) Jurassic World marks the third time Chris Pratt has been turned into Lego
Chris Pratt seems to be in everything these days, and if you look at the world of Lego it might seem that way, too. In the past two years he's been immortalised in minifig form a grand total of three times: As Emmet in The Lego Movie, as Peter Quill/Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, and, of course, as Raptor trainer Owen Grady in Jurassic World. [Image: Lego Minifigs/Tumblr]
15.) The gyrospheres in Jurassic World were Spielberg's idea
Those cool-looking gyrosphere 'rides' in the Jurassic World trailers? Those were actually Steven Spielberg's idea. He may not be the film's director, but that producer credit does have a few advantages.
The point of the gyrospheres is to allow park guests to be in close proximity with the dinosaurs without immediate danger. Sounds like a much better idea than the cars on the track in the first Jurassic Park resort, even if it looks like the spheres don't hold out too well against the Indominus Rex.
16.) The iconic water rippling was inspired by Earth, Wind & Fire
Even people who haven't seen Jurassic Park surely know about the rippling water scene when the T-Rex first shows up. But did you know how Spielberg came up with the idea? He was inspired after noticing the bass from an Earth, Wind & Fire track was making his car's rear-view mirror shake.
The crew initially struggled to make the rippling consistent, but they found a very elegant solution to the problem. It turns out that playing a specific note on a guitar and placing the glass over the strings produced the desired concentric circles. So be safe in the knowledge that while they filmed that harrowing scene there was a guy underneath everything strumming away on.
17.) Who killed the ship crew in The Lost World? Raptors.
One of the biggest plot holes in The Lost World is how the T-Rex managed to kill the crew of the S.S. Venture. Wasn't it trapped inside the cargo hold? It's simple, the T-Rex didn't kill them: Raptors did. A scene cut from the film shows a single velociraptor escaping from the ship as it hits the mainland, so it makes sense that one (or more) of them stowed away and wiped out the crew. Obviously removing that scene means it doesn't make any sense.
Incidentally this is similar to the character Anne B from the first book, where the protagonists realised raptors have stowed away on the ship and have to contact it before it reaches the mainland. The difference there is that the raptors didn't kill the crew in the book, the crew found and killed the raptors.
18.) The original ending was a lot less interesting
Remember how brilliant the ending to Jurassic Park was? It wasn't always going to finish up that way, and the return of the T-Rex was only possible thanks to ILM's work creating the digital dinos. Originally the finale was supposed to be much closer to the book, and involved Sam Neil's Alan Grant character dispatching the velociraptors by shooting one and crushing the other with a mechanised T-Rex skeleton. Spielberg wasn't entirely happy about that, and went away to revise the ending. Good thing he did, really -- that's a killer final dino shot.
And while we're talking about alternate endings, The Lost World was set to end very differently too, with the whole "T-Rex in town" a late addition, replacing a finale that would have seen flying pteranadons attacking our heroes' escape choppers. They'd instead be relegated to an epilogue cameo, before getting their moment to shine in the thrilling "bird cage" scene in Jurassic Park III.