Academy’s New Board of Governors Includes Steven Spielberg

2016
Steven Spielberg is elected
to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesBoard of Governors.

New elected

governors include Laura Dern who starred in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993).

Incumbent governors who have collaborated with Spielberg include:

Actors: Tom Hanks
Casting directors: Lora Kennedy
Costume designers: Deborah Nadoolman Landis
Designers: Jim Bissell, Rick Carter
Film editors: Carol Littleton
Makeup artists and hairstylists: Lois Burwell
Producers: Mark Johnson, Kathleen Kennedy
Public relations: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Marvin Levy
Sound: Mark Mangini, Scott Millan
Visual effects: Craig Barron, John Knoll
Writers: Robin Swicord

Academy’s New Board of Governors Includes Steven Spielberg

2015
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.

1997
Ellen DeGeneres comes out on national tv
. In her tv series Ellen, she explains to Laura Dern that she is gay and makes television history, paving the way for others to be themselves and come out.

Despite threats from advertisers and religious groups, “The Puppy
Episode” is an enormous ratings success, wins multiple awards and becomes
a cultural phenomenon.

1993
Spielberg directs two films in the same year. The first is Schindler’s List, in Spielberg’s own words his “most significant film”. The second is Jurassic Park, a groundbreaking movie full of wonder, thrills and adventure, which Spielberg describes as a mere “good sequel to Jaws, on land”.

Spielberg plans to shoot Schindler’s List first but MCA president Sid Sheinberg greenlights the Holocaust film on the condition that Spielberg makes Jurassic Park first. As Spielberg explains: “He knew that once I had directed Schindler I wouldn’t be able to do Jurassic Park.” Sheinberg’s decision forces Spielberg to supervise Jurassic Park’s post production via satellite hook-up while he is already shooting Schindler’s List in Poland.

Jurassic Park is based on Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel about a wildlife park on a remote tropical island featuring cloned dinosaurs. In a fierce bidding war, Universal buys the film rights for $1.5 million plus a percentage of the film’s gross receipts and pays Crichton another $500,000 for a first draft screenplay (compare Peter Benchley who received only $150,000 for the film rights to his novel Jaws plus $25,000 for a first draft script).

Crichton’s draft gets a rewrite by Malia Scotch Marmo (Hook) who tries to merge the characters of Grant and Malcolm – a film adaptation technique also used by Steven Zaillian for his Schindler’s List script. When David Koepp is brought in to write the final screenplay, Scotch Marmo’s idea of merging Grant and Malcolm is (luckily) dropped.

On Spielberg’s request, Koepp introduces significant changes to the novel such as the animated “pre-show” presented by Mr. DNA, a young female computer nerd and a “heroic” return of the T. rex in the film’s climax. Park creator John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough) is not portrayed as the book’s one-dimensional villain but as a flamboyant Walt Disney-type dreamer who is obsessed with showmanship – similar to Spielberg. Paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is given more presence than in the novel, and paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill, replacing Spielberg’s original choice Harrison Ford) is allowed more character development: His discomfort with children eventually dissolves when “life finds a way” and T. rex & co. threaten the lives of Hammond’s grandchildren. They all have to get off the island before the park succumbs to chaos as predicted by mathematician Ian Malcolm (brilliantly performed by Jeff Goldblum). Unlike in the novel, Malcolm and Hammond survive, and Malcolm gets a lot more sarcastic one-liners to say, such as this: “If The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

Spielberg not only enhances the book’s cardboard protagonists for his film, he even adds character to the dinosaurs. As Paul Bullock elaborates in his profound e-book analysis, Jurassic Park is much more than a triumph of technical expertise or an escape from reality, it is an “escape with reality”. Below the thrilling surface of his film, Spielberg wants to teach his audience the virtues of humility before nature over scientific arrogance as well as each one’s responsibility to act and help others (a topic Schindler’s List deals with more in detail). In his more ambiguous comment on the era of blockbusters, Spielberg depicts a store stuffed with merchandise that is actually available after the film’s release.

Contrasting worlds of lush landscapes and sterile high-tech environments are created by cinematographer Dean Cundey, with the help of production designer Rick Carter who is working on a Spielberg-directed film for the first time.

Fay Wray gets invited to the set and advises young actress Ariana Richards (Lex) on how to scream like hell. 

image

Fay Wray, sitting in center, lead actress from the original King Kong (1933), which is a huge inspiration for Jurassic Park, Also in the photo (left to right): Michael Crichton, Kathleen Kennedy, Stan Winston and Steven Spielberg. Photo: © The Making of Jurassic Park (Don Shay, Ballantine Books 1993)

Thanks to heavy use of storyboards and meticulous preparation by producers Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen, principal photography wraps after 98 days, 12 days ahead of schedule at a budget of $63 million (less than what was spent on Hook). Quite an achievement, considering the location was hit by Iniki, the most powerful hurricane to hit Hawaii in recorded history. While cast and crew spends a day in the shelter of their hotel, Spielberg kills time by telling ghost stories to the kids.

Steven Spielberg directing scenes on the Jurassic Park set.

Originally, Steven Spielberg wants to employ go-motion animated dino miniatures from Phil Tippett combined in post-production with larger animatronic dinosaurs constructed by special make-up effects creator Stan Winston. But then ILM visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren tells Spielberg about new CGI technologies and says he might be able to create dinos in the computer. When Muren shows Spielberg and Tippett a first CGI animatic of the Tyrannosaurus chasing a herd of Gallimimus, Spielberg says to Tippet, “You’re out of a job,” to which he replies, “Don’t you mean extinct?” Spielberg lets both the animatic and this dialogue write into the script (as a conversation between Malcolm and Grant).

The Tyrannosaurus’ roars are created by Gary Rydstrom as a combination of dog, penguin, tiger, alligator, and elephant sounds (inspired by the way sound designer Ben Burtt created alien “languages” and sound effects for Star Wars).

John Williams delivers one of the most beautiful (and memorable) scores of his career.

Jurassic Park receives widespread critical acclaim and three Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. It grosses over $900 million worldwide and is the highest grossing film directed by Spielberg, his third “All Time Box Office” champion, replacing Spielberg’s own E.T. – The Extraterrestrial.

Today, Jurassic Park still holds 17th place (adjusted for inflation) and spawns three sequels, one of it directed by Steven Spielberg (The Lost World: Jurassic Park). Spielberg’s net worth gains $250 million through the first Jurassic Park movie alone. 

An animated TV series based on Jurassic Park’s events and characters is cancelled during pre-production when Spielberg objects for undisclosed reasons.

1990
David Lynch’s
disturbing crime thriller Wild At Heart polarizes audiences and critics but wins the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film features exceptional performances by Nicholas Cage, Laura Dern, Isabella Rosselini, Diane Ladd, and Willem Defoe.

Steven Spielberg casts Laura Dern for Jurassic Park (1993).

Spielberg is such a huge fan of the TV series Twin Peaks (created by Mark Frost and David Lynch), he even plans to direct the first episode of the second season, until David Lynch steps in.

1973
Spielberg drops out of his first theatrical film project
.

For several months he works for White Lightning, starring Burt Reynolds and introducing 6-year-old Laura Dern.

However, Spielberg exits before shooting begins: “It wasn’t something that I wanted to do for a first film. I didn’t want to
start my career as a hard-hat, journeyman director. I wanted to do
something that was a little more personal.”
 

Joseph Sargent (Jaws IV) fills in for him.