Get ready to feel old. Twenty-four years have passed since Michael Crichton published his bestselling novel, Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 adaptation of Crichton’s book recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a 3D re-release. And the last time you were able to see a Jurassic Park movie in theaters before that was 2001. That all changes right now.
Universal is bringing the mighty dinosaurs of the Jurassic franchise back to life for a new installment in the ongoing series. Expect a lot of changes on screen, however, for Jurassic World. Very few original players from the initial franchise are coming back, as far as we know. (We see you, B.D. Wong!) The pieces have fallen into place on the fourth movie, so we figured we would dig into Jurassic World and fill you in on all of the latest details.
For now, let’s extract DNA from the frozen specimens of Jurassic World news and tell you what we know so far.
The Numerous False Starts
As far back as 2009, we were running stories about a fourth Jurassic movie, even as the sequel toiled away in development hell. Original Jurassic Park helmer Steven Spielberg had the sequel on his calendar. Jurassic Park III director Joe Johnston had real ideas about where he wanted the series to go. The sequel, as we know it, finally got fast-tracked – for real – in January 2013, when Universal Studio said the wheels were turning toward a release. We initially entertained a 2014 date, but Universal officially circled June 12, which means we are weeks away from the opening of a new park!
Spielberg never planned to come back. When Johnston passed on the opportunity to once again helm a dinosaur thriller, Universal started fishing for worthy replacements. They landed on Colin Trevorrow, a relative newcomer who made a name for himself (to a certain extent) with the shaggy-dog time travel romance Safety Not Guaranteed, with Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Mark Duplass. I say "to a certain extent" because while Safety charmed the film-festival circuit, it didn’t necessarily turn Trevorrow into a household name. Jurassic World still needed star power.
Jurassic Park had Sam Neill (who returned for part three). The Lost World had Jeff Goldblum. Trevorrow needed a rugged leading man for Jurassic World. He finally settled on the busiest man in show business at the moment, Star-Lord himself: Chris Pratt. The charismatic young actor is coming off turns in the massively successful The LEGO Movie, where he voiced the main character, Emmet. Oh yeah, then Pratt was the star (and Star-Lord) of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which happened to be one of the highest-grossing films of 2014. Pratt will play Owen, a trainer in the new, Disney World-esque Jurassic World who’s abilities to communicate with dinos is tested by a hybrid genetic concoction that goes rogue and begins killing for sport. Now, who could have predicted such shenanigans at a dinosaur park?
The Jurassic series was never a sausage fest. Laura Dern, Julianne Moore and Tea Leoni made sure young women in the theater had someone to look up to (as audience members also likely hid their eyes in terror from the sight of a stampeding T-Rex). Following in their footsteps for Jurassic World will be Bryce Dallas-Howard, who accepted the role of Claire Dearing, a park operation manager at this Walt Disney World-type theme park structured around new dinosaurs. From what we can tell, Claire is the one who pushed for the creation of this new dinosaur, because park interest peaks when they is a new attraction. So long as that attraction doesn’t break from containment, and start eating the tourists.
Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson
As casting ramped up on Jurassic World, the rumor of a "family" being the central human characters in the film were solidified when news broke that Iron Man 3 co-star Ty Simpkins snagged a lead role. The very next day, word broke that the production also added young (but older) actor Nick Robinson of The Kings of Summer for a part. Variety reported that the actors would play "siblings" in the sequel, while the first official Jurassic World trailer showed them as Judy Greer's children (and possible Bryce Dallas-Howard's relatives). How much danger will they be in? If previous Jurassic sequels are any indication, these kids are toast. We’ve seen them screaming from inside a glass ball, and hiding in what appears to be a gift shop with Chris Pratt’s character. Any chance both of them survive this ordeal?
Every movie needs a villain. And when producers cast a stock bad guy, they often turn to Vincent D’Onofrio, star of Full Metal Jacket, Men In Black and, more recently, Netflix and Marvel’s INCREDIBLE Daredevil series. We first reported that the Method actor had joined Trevorrow’s Jurassic sequel in the seemingly sinister role of Vic Hoskins, head of security operations for InGen. And he was spotted in the most recent trailer as being the side character who warns Pratt and his colleagues that they aren’t prepared for the danger that’s coming. In addition, D’Onofrio will be joined by Irrfan Khan, cast as Simon Masrani, head of the Masrani Corporation and the owner of Jurassic World. These are pivotal backstage roles to the creation of Jurassic World, and while they likely won't be part of the carnivorous dinosaur action, they will be the men yelling at Pratt as he tries to save the day.
We were kept in the dark for a long while about Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World. Now, however, we have a full plot synopsis, and even enjoyed a spectacular Super Bowl TV spot that revealed several important cards. Here's the breakdown, from the film's IMDB page:
"Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor's interest -- which backfires horribly."
The "attraction" is a hybrid dinosaur created in the labs of InGen (by returning cast member B.D. Wong). It goes by the name of Indominus Rex, and even has a terrifying shape. We saw hints of it in this incredible poster:
And from what we saw in the trailer, Chris Pratt's character needs to recruit an army of Velociraptors to fight this rebel beast... and who doesn't want to watch that?!
The Indominus Rex
Jurassic World’s wild card has been the Indominus Rex, and the sequel sat on it for as long as it could. But in the second (and possibly final) trailer, Colin Trevorrow and his team finally started showing off all that thus hybrid dinosaur could do. As we mentioned, it was created in the Jurassic World labs with the intent of being the new exhibit at the park. Only, it’s smarter, faster, stronger and hungrier than any other being on the island. It remembers where it’s tracking device has been implanted, and knows enough to forcibly take it out. It hunts bigger dinos, and kills them "for sport." And when it turns on the tourists, Chris Pratt’s Owen recruits an army of velociraptors to go after it. But he isn’t alone. Jurassic World suggests that all of the dinos on Isla Nublar will be needed to bring Indominus Rex to its knees. Will they be enough?
Knowing that he has to hit a 2015 release date, Trevorrow started filming Jurassic World in March and April of 2014. The production had scouted out Hawaiian locations in Oahu and Kauai, following in the footsteps of the three previous Park movies. They also would camp out in Louisiana for several weeks, filming in interiors that replicated the doomed theme park. And we found out that a cardboard cut out of a shirtless Jeff Goldblum graces the production offices, which means Trevorrow is keeping this sequel on the right track.
Managing Director at CinemaBlend. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.
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