‘Jurassic Park’ At 25: 25 Facts You Never Knew
On the 16th July 1993, cinema as patrons of the Unites Kingdom knew it, was changed forever. How? With the release of a little film called Jurassic Park. Released just over a month after the US’ launch on 11th June 1993, the film was an instantly beloved masterpiece, capturing the imagination of an entire planet, and for a while, held the title of highest grossing film of all time.
Now, twenty-five years on, a fifth film in the franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is set to be released, proving that people still love dinosaurs. That wouldn’t have been possible though without Jurassic Park and Steven Spielberg’s mastery. The film, based on the novel by Michael Crichton, told of a new theme-park that had managed to successfully bring back-to-life creatures that hadn’t existed for 65 million years or so. It’s a film that sparked a generation’s obsession with movies (and dinosaurs), and whilst the twenty-fifth anniversary has us feeling a little on the old side, it still makes us so very happy.
To celebrate the landmark birthday, we spared no expense, and compiled a list of facts and trivia that you might not have heard before.
1. Casting a film is always tricky, here are several famous folks who were rumoured to have been considered, or were part of the audition process.
Alan Grant – Before settling on Aussie Sam Neil, the part of Alan Grant went out to some very big names including Harrison Ford, Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Dylan McDermott, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Quaid, Kevin Costner, Robin Williams and William Hurt. Hurt would later go on to star in the TV series Westworld, which is based on one of Michael Crichton’s other works.
Ellie Sattler – Pretty much every actress in Hollywood at the time was up for this role – Sandra Bullock, Laura Linney, Juliette Binoche, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Kim Raver, Heather Graham, Robin Wright, Helen Hunt, Teri Hatcher, Elizabeth Hurley, Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ally Sheedy, Geena Davis, Daryl Hannah, Jennifer Grey, Kelly McGillis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julia Roberts, Linda Hamilton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bridget Fonda, Joan Cusack, Debra Winger and Sherilyn Fenn. Julianne Moore would later go on to play Dr. Sarah Harding in The Lost World: Jurassic Park
John Hammond – The role of eccentric billionaire and park-owner garnered interest from the likes of Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Jon Pertwee, and Marlon Brando.
Ian Malcom – This character could only ever have been played by the effortlessly cool Jeff Goldblum, and yet before he was confirmed, this eclectic bunch of actors were in the running: Jim Carrey, Michael Keaton, Bruce Campbell, Johnny Depp, Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg, and Michael J. Fox.
Robert Muldoon – The part went through Brian Cox, Bob Hoskins, and Jeffery Jones before being snapped up by the late Bob Peck.
Lex Murphy – Even the children’s parts had a plethora of people vying for the roles, the most noteable for the part of Lex include both Anna Chlumsky and Christina Ricci.
2. The film generated so much interest in dinosaurs that the study of palaeontology had a record increase in students. Even the film’s stars weren’t immune. Arianna Richards (who plays Lex Murphy) got the bug and assisted Jack Horner, the palaeontologist advisor, on a dinosaur dig in Montana.
3. Director Steven Spielberg snapped up the film mere hours before fellow director James Cameron could put a bid in. Cameron has since stated that Spielberg was definitely the best fit as his vision would have been much more violet, a la Aliens, and would have cut out the family market altogether. His cast would have also included Arnold Schwarzenegger as Grant, Bill Paxton as Malcolm and Charlton Heston as Hammond.
4. Spielberg gifted his cast with a model Raptor each. Arianna Richards keeps hers in her house as a ‘guard Raptor’ to shock anyone coming in, Jeff Goldblum’s has a prime spot In his house and is a cherished item, and Laura Dern kept hers in her son’s room next to his crib when he was a baby.
5. Out of the two hour and seven minute run-time, only fifteen minutes contain dinosaurs. Six minutes are CGI, provided by ILM, and the other nine are animatronics from Stan Winston’s studio. An easy way of telling between the two is essentially any time you see a full body dinosaurs – it’s CGI; if it’s just a part of one (like the head, claw etc.), then it’s animatronic.
6. Universal scooped up the rights to Michael Crichton’s novel for 2 million dollars, before it had even been published. Not a bad investment when you consider that the franchise has grossed over 3 billion dollars, with the latest film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom still to be released.
7. Steven Spielberg may be one of the hardest working filmmakers out there. He managed to oversee the post-production of Jurassic Park remotely while in Poland shooting his next project, Schindler’s List.
8. That iconic moment of the water in the glass rippling was achieved by using a guitar string that was attached to the underside of the dash beneath the glass.
9. That big of shit that Ian Malcolm comments on, thankfully for the crew, didn’t smell. It was made out of clay, mud and straw. To give the appearance of being stinky, it was dressed with honey and papayas to attract flies.
10. Instantly dating the film with an ancient computer software program that looks entirely fake, the UNIX system seen in the film is actually a real 3D file management browser called Fsn (‘fusion’).
11. All the merchandise (t-shirts, stuffed dinosaurs, lunch boxes, flasks, etc.) shown in the film were, in some part, actually created to be sold with the movie. That’s some very insidious advertising from Mr Spielberg and co.
12. The character of Alan Grant was modelled after Palaeontologist Jack Horner, the dinosaur adviser for the film.
13. Given that the film was rushed into production before the book had even been published, it should come as no surprise that the film was story-boarded before it was scripted. It also explains why it’s such a visual delight to watch.
14. Steven Spielberg is a man of his word. Joseph Mazzello originally screen-tested for the role of Jack in Hook, but Spielberg thought he was too young. He promised the young actor that they would work together in the future, and he kept that promise by casting him as Tim Murphy.
15. Worried that Ariana Richards wouldn’t be perform it perfectly, during the jelly wobble scene, someone was actually jiggling her elbow to achieve the effect.
16. Jurassic Park was nominated for, and won, three Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Sound Effects, and Best Visual Effects.
17. To create the Dilophosaurus spit, the effects team used a paintball mechanism that actually spat from the model’s mouth; the venom was made out of methacryl and KY Jelly, with some food colouring mixed in.
18. We all know that the raptors in Jurassic World are called Charlie, Delta, Echo and Blue, but the crew named the animatronic raptors for Jurassic Park Kim and Randy.
19. In order to create believable dinosaurs, Steven Spielberg wanted to ensure that they did animal type things like stopping to scratch. Given that dinosaurs allegedly evolved into birds, he also wanted to make them quite birdlike e.g. snapping to attention like a chicken. He wanted the Raptors to turn their heads so they could look behind them to make them have a scarier appearance. He also likened the Raptor tapping its claw to Morse code to any Raptor listening.
20. Although they are arguably the most memorable of the dinosaurs, you don’t actual see the adult velociraptors on-screen until over 100 minutes into the movie.
21. Even wondered how they achieved those dinosaur sounds? Well each dinosaur is a composite of several different varieties of animals. Here’s a little breakdown for each one:
T-Rex – The roar is a combination of dog, tiger, alligator, elephant, walrus and penguin (!) sounds. The sound of its footsteps were created by cut sequoias crashing to the ground.
Velociraptors – The main cry of the Velicoraptors was a combination of the sounds of elephant seal pups, dolphins and walruses. The hissing is that of an agitated goose, and the sounds the Velociraptors make when communicating is the same sound tortoises make when having sex. Lovely.
Dilophosaurus – The sounds made by the Dilophosaurus were a combination of the sounds of howler monkeys, hawks, rattlesnakes, and swans. The neck frill rattle is that of a rattlesnake, and the cute chirps are those of a swan.
Brachiosaurs – These were a combination of whale and donkey sounds
22. Steven Spielberg wanted the velociraptors to be about ten feet tall, which was much taller than they were known to be. During filming, paleontologists uncovered ten-foot-tall specimens of raptors called Utahraptors. When the Utahraptor was discovered right before the film’s release, which had a similar height to the Raptors depicted in the film, Stan Winston joked, “We made it, then they discovered it”.
23. John Williams’ Jurassic Park score is one of the best in movie history, but did you know that it has lyrics? It seems that Jeff Goldblum has thought up his own words should you ever fancy a sing-sing when hearing that rousing music. Here they are – ‘In Jurassic Park, it’s scary in the dark, I’m so scared, that I’ll be eaten.’
24. Things got a little creepy on set as the T-Rex had the tendency to come ‘alive’ on its own. Producer Kathleen Kennedy recalls, “The T. Rex went into the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Scared the crap out of us. We’d be, like, eating lunch, and all of a sudden a T-Rex would come alive. At first we didn’t know what was happening, and then we realized it was the rain. You’d hear people start screaming.”
25. Jurassic Park had a very interesting way of teaching parents to not leave their children alone. Every time that Lex and Tim are left by an adult they (almost immediately) come under attack from a dinosaur. This happens first when Gennaro leaves them alone in the car and the T. rex finds them, and then again later when Grant leaves them at the Visitors Centre and they find themselves hiding from raptors in the kitchen.