One of the biggest movies of the year, and now of all time, is Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, and regardless of whether you enjoyed it or not, there’s no denying the fact that it made people look back on Jurassic Park with more than 20 years of combined fondness. And the world almost got to see a TV show follow the film, as renowned artist William Stout was tapped in the 1990s to put together some concept art for an animated Jurassic Park show. What happened to it? Steven Spielberg apparently didn’t care enough to do anything with it.
Stout shared the story on his journal/blog in the past, and interest has once again risen as he started selling off the concept art he created for it, and it’s all pretty amazing stuff. (Particularly his image of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm, but you probably assumed that already.) Here’s how Stout described the aesthetic of the series, which was conceived due to the massive retail success of Jurassic Park merchandising.
This was not going to be a kiddy show (although kids of all ages, including myself, could enjoy it). They wanted the show to be a mature prime time series with top writers and state-of-the-art television animation augmented with quite a bit of CG animation. Universal Cartoon Studios wanted a ‘graphic novel look’ to the series.
In the 1990s, Spielberg and Warner Bros. Animation put together some of the best cartoons of all time in Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Freakazoid and others. Those mixed wacky visuals with an intelligence that could be grasped by viewers young and old, and it would have been amazing to get another side of that corporate team-up through a more adult follow-up to Jurassic Park. We probably wouldn’t have gotten to see dinosaurs eating people, but it could have still been an instant classic, especially if the movie’s cast reprised their roles for the show.
So what happened to the project? Stout – who worked on films such as Return of the Living Dead, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Mist – explains:
We made a trailer to communicate the look and feel of the series, also showing how we would combine computer animation with traditional animation. All we needed was Spielberg’s approval. I heard through the grapevine that he never bothered to watch what we had done. By that time, the word was out that he was burnt out on Jurassic Park merchandising and all of the film’s commercial exploration. So, it never got made. Too bad.
It wasn’t the first time that Spielberg turned down a major project, but this one stings the worst. And not just because it would have made Land Before Time and Denver the Last Dinosaur completely irrelevant. I mean, just look at these images.