John Hammond: What Happened to the Jurassic Park Founder

Monday, April 29, 2019

Of all the fan-favorite characters to appear in the Jurassic Park franchise, none are more crucial than John Hammond. The founder of the dinosaur-populated theme park, the entire premise is brought about by Hammond's vision to take the fiction genetics corporation InGen into the world of entertainment by resurrecting the prehistoric creatures through advances in science and technology.

Despite his prominence and memorable performance by the late Sir Richard Attenborough, the cinematic incarnation of Hammond is significantly different from Michael Crichton's original novel. Now, CBR is breaking down the differences and similarities between the literary and cinematic versions of the visionary businessman and the deadly theme park he created.


A flashy venture capitalist who had always dreamed of entertaining the masses including running a flea circus decades ago in his native United Kingdom, John Hammond founded the genetics startup company International Genetic Technologies, Inc. (InGen). Hammond had attracted investors with his vision of cloning dinosaurs through genetic material found in fossils, opening a theme park on a private island off the coast of Costa Rica while a separate island would serve as the actual breeding ground for the theme park's dinosaurs.

Hammond had at least one daughter who had two children of her own and decided to bring both his grandchildren to test out Jurassic Park. With the board of investors worried about the park's safety and viability, those two kids joined with a lawyer, chaos scientist Ian Malcolm, and paleontologists Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler after the accidental death of a worker on site prompts a massive lawsuit against the company.


The original, literary version of Hammond, as created by author Michael Crichton, is a much more opportunistic character than his eventual cinematic counterpart. He's more interested in profit margins than the actual scientific miracles of cloning creatures extinct for millions of years and alienated employees with a hair-trigger temper and vocal mood swings. With that in mind, the literary Hammond planned to make access to the park excessively expensive with expansion plans for Europe and Japan should the initial Costa Rican site prove successful.

As the park descends into chaos following a massive thunderstorm engulfing the island, Hammond confused the stock sound of a Tyrannosaurus rex on the park's PA system for an actual one pursuing him. While panicking, Hammond falls down a hill and breaks his ankle leading to him being eaten by a pack of Procompsognathus; his movement and senses impeded by his injuries and the small dinosaurs' venomous bites.


The cinematic Hammond, portrayed by Attenborough in the first two films in the franchise, is considerably more sympathetic than the original source material. Insisting to keep prices affordable and the park as accessible to the general public as possible, this version of Hammond takes the time to personally be present at the hatching of every single dinosaur so they can imprint on him. Realizing the folly of his dreams, Hammond later tasks Malcolm to keep Site B's dinosaurs free from InGen's influence after being ousted from the company by his nephew who plots to open a theme park in San Diego during The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

After the existence of dinosaurs on Site B becomes public, Hammond publicly urges the creatures to be left to survive, free of human influence. By the time of Jurassic World, Hammond has been dead for some time with a bust of the entrepreneur visible in the lobby of one of the new park's facilities. Whether an altruistic visionary or an exploitative businessman, the entire premise of Jurassic Park springs from Hammond's dreams. Ultimately, the British tycoon founded InGen and used advanced genetic technology to bring dinosaurs into the modern era. As such, his legacy looms over the entire franchise.