20 Things you Didn’t Know About The Jurassic Park Franchise

There have been few films in history that have had the lasting power that Jurassic Park did. Couple that with successful subsequent sequels, and this franchise is one of the highest regarded and enjoyed in cinematic history. Of course, even now, nearly 25 years after the original film was released to audiences, there is still a lot that adoring fans do not know about the entire franchise as whole. Here you will be introduced to 20 facts you likely didn’t know about the franchise, which is sure to move you up the chain towards being one of the biggest film dinosaur buffs on the planet.

The Roar of T Rex Was Several Animal Sounds Combined And Modified

While there were obviously no recorded versions of the Tyrannosaurus Rex to reference for a roar, Spielberg and company needed to get creative about what would be an iconic sound for film history. In a condensed version of this process, sound engineers mixed the squeal of a baby elephant, the snarl of a tiger and the gurgling of an alligator. This is part of the process that engineers are forced to do with so many films, to create iconic sounds from the unlikeliest of places. A lot of time was spent with perfectly blending these sounds, slowing them down to dramatic levels or speeding them up as needed to create the infamous declaration of film’s most terrifying dinosaur. While it is believed that the actual roar of the T-Rex sounded nothing like Jurassic Park‘s creation, it was still a great result that really fit the creature created for the movie. 

Jeff Goldblum Was No Coward

If you recall in the first film, Ian Malcom jumps out of the Ford Explorer with a lit flare to distract the Tyrannosaurus Rex who was heading towards the children in the other car. While this scene might have been deemed foolishly heroic to fans of the franchise who could see that Grant had things well in hand to save the children, the actual script featured something else entirely. As the book would suggest, Ian Malcom was supposed to just run off in fear much like the weasel-ish lawyer Gennaro who cowers in fear in the stall of the nearby bathroom. Jeff Goldblum refused to allow this to be a defining characteristic of his character, and offered this modified version for Spielberg, which the director thoroughly enjoyed.

Jurassic Park III Featured Scrapped Ideas From The First Two Installments

If you have ever watched the third installment of the film, the obvious weakest choice in the entire franchise, you might have often thought about how it appears to be haphazardly thrown together. While it does feature the dinosaur chasing thrills and high stakes found in all of the other films, there is likely a very good reason for this. Several of the most noteworthy scenes featured in the film are actually scrapped ideas from both Jurassic Park and The Lost World. So while the movie still faired decently with true fans of the franchise, they could stop and appreciate just how impressive the first two installments might have been had they actually included some of the Jurassic Park III greatest clip collection. 

The Iconic Scene Of T-Rex Breaking The Glass Was An Accident  

It is not widely known that the animatronic created of the T-Rex was incredibly heavy. As this was the case, it was not at all easy for technicians to control, especially at certain angles. When T-Rex is attempting to find a way into the Explorer where Lex and Tim are panicking, her head is only meant to come close to the glass ceiling, but technicians lost control of the animatronic, and it actually fell into the plexiglass. While the head was a solid 12.000 pounds, technicians were able to quickly regain control of the animatronic, but not before the genuine screams of the children inside the Ford were documented to be included in the film when this mishap took place.

Jurassic Park 4 Was Going To Get Crazy

While Jurassic World ended up being a smashing success, you do not even want to know what was about to head down the production line for the franchise. For a brief time, several years before pre-production would begin for Jurassic World there was a confirmed idea going around from Universal executives to reboot the franchise using hybrid dinosaurs. Yes, half dinosaur and half human creations. While this might sound like a Syfy movie gone horribly wrong, it was only a short time away from being filmed. Fortunately, the writers decided that gun toting dinosaurs was just too much and went back to the drawing board and came up with the very inventive and impressive Jurassic World script and storyline instead.

Raptor Height Discrepancies

Spielberg had spent a great deal of time with major paleontoligists of the 1990s to get a feel for what his movie monsters would have actually looked like and how they would have acted. Much to the dismay of Spielberg, raptors were not quite as tall as he had hoped to make them for the film, which gave them a towering quality against the actors. By a stroke of luck however, a ten foot tall raptor was discovered in a dig site while the film was in its early stages, allowing him to create the raptors ten feet tall as he had initially hoped to. It is difficult to say whether Spielberg would have continued on with his wishes of the taller raptor anyway without this discovery, but given his insistence on being as accurate as possible, it seems very unlikely. 

The Lost World Is Largely Based On Michael Crichton’s First Jurassic Park Book

Unless you were a reader of the original two creations from author Michael Crichton, you might not have noticed that the first film really doesn’t follow the book all that well. While Crichton would play a role in helping to devise the screenplay, a large part of the major storyline changes involved characters that would need to be around for a successful sequel to be in the works. With this in mind, the great story that was contained within the first book can be found in pieces throughout The Lost World: Jurassic Park. One of the parallels that could easily be drawn from the book to the second film is the spread of the raptors throughout the island and the role of the Compsognathus (Compys) throughout the movie. 

Spinosaurus of JP III Holds A Record  

Before Jurassic Park III would ever even hit the theaters, it had already broken a record during its time in production. In order to make a dinosaur that would dwarf the Tyrannosaurus Rex, engineers had to construct a truly massive animatronic. Since this was largely what made the motions and lifelike mannerisms of the T-Rex so seamless in the first film, construction was underway to create the animatronic needed for the Spinosaurus featured as one of the primary threats throughout the movie. In all, the creation ended up weighing close to 12 tons, and took the record as the largest animatronic that had ever been built. It even featured a hydraulic controlling system, which allowed it to be controlled in the water (like the end sequence in the river with Alan Grant and Mr. Kirby). 

Stop Motion Might Have Been The Medium  

For as remarkable as the film looked in theaters across the world, Jurassic Park very nearly had an entirely different medium for the dinosaurs to be featured in the film. Having employed one of the leading creators of stop motion films for his crew on the movie, Spielberg was committed to the idea of using stop-motion dinosaurs. It wasn’t until someone could adequately show the possibilities of CGI that the decision was made to forgo stop motion. The expert wasn’t out of a job though, as the new CGI team needed his expertise in animal movement to help build models for the creations that they were making on computers. These full sized 3D breathing creations would be the first of its kind ever featured in a film. 

Subtle References To Spielberg Movies In Every Jurassic Park Installment  

You would not be surprised to learn that Steven Spielberg might make a nod to some of his other creations through the films that he has directed for the franchise. As egocentric as this might seem, it is actually just a fun way to see how many of the audience is paying attention. What is surprising, are the snippets paying homage to Spielberg in films for the franchise that he didn’t direct. What were all of the references, you ask? In the very first film, Dennis Nedry has a movie playing on his computer. This film is Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. In the second installment, there is a poster for his movie Hook hanging in the video store the bus crashes into. In JPIII, a Jurassic Park pinball machine can be seen in the back of the bar when Alan and Billy meet with the Kirby couple. Lastly, Jurassic World features a feeding routine using a great white shark, where the monstrous dinosaur emerges from the water and swallows it whole. Very clearly a Jaws reference.

Lex Was Cast Based On Her Scream

For those that might not know her name, Lex was played by Ariana Richards. While there were a wide variety of young girls that sought the coveted role of John Hammond’s granddaughter, Richards was the one that casting staff believed to be the ideal fit for the image they were creating. What made her a more viable choice than some of the other young blonde girls that had auditioned? Richards’ very ear-splitting scream you can hear a few times in the film. 

Jim Carrey Was Nearly Ian Malcom 

While you might not have realized this, there was a lot of Hollywood contention for some of the roles that were cast in this film. One of the jobs that saw a lot of shuffling from the A-list crowd in Hollywood was the role of Ian Malcom. While this was ultimately given to Jeff Goldblum as fans of the series already know, you might not have been aware that a close second in the running for the role was none other than Jim Carrey. Ultimately, studio executives thought that Carrey’s presence in a number of over the top comedy films coming out around that time might make the character seem disingenuous and not personify the “rock star scientist” that John Hammond describes in the movie. 

The Real Life Alan Grant and Robert Burke

As is the case with a number of fictional creations that are adapted to be on the big screen, comparisons have to be drawn somewhere to give a character a baseline to adapt a personality and presence on the screen. For the first film, Sam Neill was encouraged to model his character after noted paleontologist Jack Horner. This was an easy parallel considering that both Spielberg and Crichton used him to divulge information about the behavior of dinosaurs. His rival, Robert Bakker was a model for a character to be featured in The Lost World as Robert Burke. Horner’s only request for a likeness of his friendly-feud rival? That his Burke would end up being eaten by T-Rex in the film. Spielberg happily obliged with the iconic breaching of the waterfall scene from the second installment. 

Many Directors Wanted To Oversee The First Film  

If you were to ask Steven Spielberg, he would tell you that of all the movies he was awarded to direct, none were as contested as Jurassic Park. Up to the time that production was nearly set to begin, the jury was still out on who the man behind the camera was going to be. While Tim Burton was being suggested, especially after his very recent successes with Batman and Edward Scissorhands, even iconic directors like James Cameron were apparently in the running as well. It would be the friendship budding between Spielberg and Crichton that would end up ensuring that he got the directing gig for the film.

The Dig Site In JP III Was Genuine  

While the first film also features Alan Grant being found on a dig site to be brought out to the island for the first time, this was all a fictional creation based on what traditional dig sites typically looked like. For the third installment of the film, where yet another dig site would be featured, this was an actual discovery that was being unearthed at the time. This lent a lot of stock to the credibility of the film, and made the science behind the franchise a little easier to believe and witness on the screen. Thanks to Jack Horner, though, film crews were allowed to delicately shoot the early scenes of Jurassic Park III on a genuine unearthed dinosaur discovery site. 

The T-Rex Would Sometimes Turn On By Itself

If you thought just the sheer size and look of the animatronic used to bring the T-Rex to life was terrifying, you should have seen how it behaved when it started to rain. Sometimes the water would cause shorts in the electrical system for the head, which brought the massive T-Rex head and neck to life with no one behind the controls. The unpredictability of this occurrence left many of the film’s crew constantly sketchy about being left alone with the animatronic, even if it was only a head and neck portion. Most people didn’t realize just how strong and tough this build actually was, lending to the understanding that if it shorted out and got you in its mouth, it could very easily do the same kind of damage that a real Tyrannosaurus Rex could have done to its prey. 

Spielberg Gave Out Raptors For Wrap Presents  

When the original film had wrapped up production ahead of schedule, Spielberg gave out gifts to all of the main characters of the production. These were full sized replications of the raptors featured in the film, to which many of the talent in the film still proudly display in their home. Each raptor was signed by Spielberg himself with a well-wishing comment to send them on their way. It is said that Ariana Richards and Jeff Goldblum both proudly display their raptors in a place of honor inside their homes, while actress Laura Dern has admittedly had to put her prized raptor into storage because it was scaring her young child.

Universal’s Jurassic Park Ride Cost More Than The Original Film Did

With a theme park in Orlando, Florida and in California as well, Universal needed to really up its wow factors when it came to franchises like Jurassic Park being turned into rides for park goers. Ultimately the brain trust behind the parks came to the decision that a river adventure would be a great homage to the series, and it could feature a large variety of the dinosaurs that were featured in the film. Surprisingly though, more money was spent in the production and construction of this ride for the theme park than the entire cost to produce the first film. Given that the ride has been generally left unchanged since it was first unveiled and continues to be one of the most popular at the parks, it seems like it was money well spent.

In Keeping With New Discoveries, Dinosaurs Were Modified As The Franchise Moved Forward 

From film to film you might notice slight differences between the dinosaurs. While these could have been chalked up before to the different directors and CGI teams, it has a lot more to do with the growing database of knowledge that the world of paleontology has to offer. A good example of this would be the inclusion of some feathers to the head and body of raptors featured in the third installment of the franchise, as there was leading scientific discoveries to support that they indeed had some feathers. Huh, turns out that Alan Grant might have been right after all about the raptors evolving into modern day birds.

Spielberg Has Made More From Jurassic Park Than Any Single Actor/Director Ever 

If you were to stop and think about the sheer success of the first film, not even taking into account the subsequent successes of its sequels, you would understand that a lot of money has been made bringing dinosaurs into the cinematic lives of fans. It is estimated that Spielberg himself made over 250,000,000 for his directing of the film, based on an arrangement of a percentage he would be guaranteed from profits, merchandise and gross sales. This is the single largest amount of money that any one crew member, not to mention actor, has ever made from the production of a film in cinematic history.

Now you know more about the Jurassic Park franchise than most of your friends do, and you can wow them with your intimate knowledge of the franchise. With the release of the new series of films for the new generations of fans, sometimes it is nice to come back to the original drawing board and learn some new things about an iconic period of cinema.

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