Colin Trevorrow’s highly imaginative and entertaining Jurassic World, the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park series, is set twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park (1993). Its story takes place on the same fictional island of Isla Nublar, where a fully functioning dinosaur theme park has operated for ten years until a genetically modified dinosaur, Indominus rex, breaks loose and runs rampant across the island.
The film stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. The supporting cast includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, and Irrfan Khan. Jurassic World is a co-production between Amblin Entertainment and Legendary Pictures, with Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley serving as producers and Steven Spielberg attached as executive producer. For the first time, Kathleen Kennedy is not involved as a producer of a Jurassic Park film, due to her commitment to produce Star Wars – The Force Awakens (2015).
Originally, Universal Pictures intends to begin production on a fourth Jurassic Park film in 2004 for a summer 2005 release, but the film remains in “development hell” for over a decade while the script goes through revisions.Steven Spielberg suggests to writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to explore the idea of a functional dinosaur park. When Colin Trevorrow signs on as director in 2013 (replacing the producer’s original choice Brad Bird who has to drop out due to scheduling conflicts), he follows this idea while writing a whole new draft with Derek Connolly, over a couple of weeks. As their script changes turn out to be more large-scale than expected, Universal executives decide to push the film’s release from June 13, 2014, to an unspecified future date. Delaying the film allows Trevorrow and Connolly more time to work on the script, as Spielberg feels that it needs improvement.
Before his death in 2014, Sir Richard Attenborough is approached about reprising the role of John Hammond; original cast members Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern are also contacted but due to the delays, no actor from the original cast appears in the film – except B. D. Wong (who reprises his role as Dr. Henry Wu from the first Jurassic Park film). Similar to the character of Marcus Brody in the fourth Indiana Jones installment, John Hammond can be seen as a statue in Jurassic World to honor the actor who played the role. Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm can be spotted on the cover of a book that is read on the monorail ride in to the park.
For the male lead role of Owen Grady, a Velociraptor expert and trainer, several actors are considered (including Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill, Josh Brolin, John Krasinski, and Jason Statham) before Chris Pratt ends up chosen for the role. Bryce Dallas Howard steals his show as the film’s brilliant female lead, Claire Dearing, Jurassic World’s operations manager.
Principal photography rolls from April to August 2014, primarily in Louisiana while also using the original Jurassic Park filming locations in Hawaii. Once again the dinosaurs are created through computer-generated imagery by Industrial Light & Magic (with Phil Tippett and Dennis Muren consulting) and life-sized animatronic dinosaurs built by Legacy Effects, a company created by the alumni of Jurassic Park veteran Stan Winston who passed away in 2008.
The film’s impressive production design is created by Ed Verraux who first collaborated with Spielberg as a production illustrator on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The gyrosphere is Spielberg’s idea. According to Colin Trevorrow, Spielberg “wanted to create a way for people to get up close and personal with the animals, to make it a self-driving, free-roaming experience. It loads on a track, but once you’re out there, you actually get to navigate around the valley”.
Colin Trevorrow pitches his idea of having the Mosasaurus feed on a shark to Spielberg who loves the idea but suggests that when the animal grabs the shark the whole bleacher section should submerge underwater using a hydraulic system so that the audience will be able to see the Mosasaurus feeding underwater.
Colin Trevorrow states that the Indominus rex is symbolic of consumer and corporate excess. It is “meant to embody [humanity’s] worst tendencies. We’re surrounded by wonder and yet we want more, and we want it bigger, faster, louder, better. And in the world of the movie, the animal is designed based on a series of corporate focus groups.” Fittingly, the product placement in Jurassic World is Colin Trevorrow’s way to satirize the corporatization of popular entertainment, in a nod to Spielberg’s original film which made fun of the merchandizing business. Jurassic World bustles with references to other films. For instance, the pterodactyls attack on the visitors, filmed from bird’s eye view, is a homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963).
The musical score for Jurassic World is composed by Michael Giacchino, who incorporates themes from John Williams’ previous Jurassic Park scores.
Jurassic World premieres on June 10, 2015, 22 years after the original. The film receives positive reviews, with film critics praising its visuals, action scenes and musical score.
The film is (unfairly) accused by some for the ‘sexist’ portrayal of its female lead, Claire Dearing, who is seen running around in high heels for most of the film. Colin Trevorrow reacts to these criticisms by saying:
‘The real protagonist of the movie is Claire, and we embrace her femininity in the story’s progression. (…) There’s no need for a female character that does things like a male character, that’s not what makes interesting female characters in my view. Bryce and I have talked a lot about these concepts and aspects of her character.’
Paul Bullock (fromdirectorstevenspielberg.tumblr.com) drives the point home in his review of Jurassic World:
“The film (…) sees her as a human being, regardless of her gender. At the start of the film, she’s cold and unfeeling. She views the dinosaurs as assets, the park patrons as walking dollar signs, and her nephews as an inconvenience. Her experiences in the park teach her humility and the real value of life. She ends not as a mother, not defined by her gender, but as a rounded, compassionate human being who understands the need to reach out to other human beings and connect with them. (…) Claire is an amalgam of the three core male characters from Spielberg’s film. She has Grant’s lack of connection, Malcolm’s irresponsibility, and Hammond’s inability to see the bigger picture. All those characters develop, becoming better, or at least different, people, and Claire does the same. Yet, when talking about Grant, Malcolm, or Hammond, we don’t consider them solely through their gender.”
In a record-breaking opening weekend, Jurassic World grosses $500 million worldwide, eventually becoming the highest-grossing film of 2015, with over $1.6 billion in box office revenue.
After the film’s huge success, Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow develop the story for a trilogy of which Jurassic World is the first part. The first sequel is scheduled for release on June 22, 2018.