Jurassic World: 22 Years Later, Supervised by Spielberg, Directed by Colin Trevorrow

jurassic_world_posterJurassic World is the eagerly awaited successor to three-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg’s beloved original classic Jurassic Park.

The story takes place 22 years after the fateful events on Isla Nublar.  Jurassic World is the world’s first truly international theme park, one that combines the wonders of science and history with the creature comforts and luxury that international travelers have come to expect.  It all began with an idea from the brilliant mind of Dr. Michael Crichton.

Originally released in 1993, Spielberg’s Jurassic Park provided moviegoers with a film that connected with global audiences of all ages and has since become an indelible part of their cultural collective memory.

Based on Crichton’s blend of science fiction and boundless imagination, the film left audiences breathless and asking the question: “Could this actually happen?”

Spielberg’s Technological Benchmark

jurassic_world_1_prattSpielberg explains that it was never his or his fellow filmmakers’ intention to revolutionalize moviemaking.  They simply wanted to do justice to Crichton’s phenomenal tale.  The director says: “It’s not up to me to decide what a benchmark is.  I just keep trying to tell stories.  It’s up to other people to figure out whether your stories are successfully told or not, but I know that technologically it was a benchmark for the entire industry.  Here were characters that were digitally created on a computer that looked completely authentic in any form of lighting or even atmospheric condition.  We even had the digital T. rex in rain.”

After the subsequent films in the series—1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park and 2001’s Jurassic Park III—Spielberg admits he simply became busy with a multitude of other projects.  Fortunately for fans of the beloved series, ideas for this world were simply dormant, not forgotten.  Spielberg shares: “A lot of people that I bump into whom I’d never met before would remind me by simply asking, ‘When is the next Jurassic Park coming out?’  That accumulated after a while, and I started to put some thought into it.”

jurassic_world_2The encouragement of many fans began to spark ideas in Spielberg, and he started to take meetings with storytellers he respected to figure out how a park conceptualized more than two decades ago would finally come to life.  He shares:  “Jurassic World is almost like seeing Jurassic Park come true.  We wanted to fulfill this dream in Jurassic World: to have a truly working theme park that is devoted to this miracle of creating dinosaurs from DNA.  This is the realization of Michael Crichton’s dream, which then transferred to John Hammond’s dream.  This, hopefully, becomes the dream that the audiences have always wanted to see.”

Producer Frank Marshall

On board to produce the next installment was frequent Spielberg collaborator Frank Marshall, whose more than 70 credits include some of the most successful and enduring films of all time—from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to the Back to the Future trilogy and The Color Purple to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  Marshall was thrilled with the notion of venturing back through Isla Nublar’s legendary gates.  He reflects: “Jurassic Park is an iconic film and people continue to love dinosaurs, so it was an exciting idea to make another one.  It’s taken this long for the right idea to materialize, and Steven’s idea of having the fully realized theme park was the anchor and key to this story.  It will have all been worth the wait.”

jurassic_world_3_howardBrought on to help shepherd the epic film was seasoned producer Patrick Crowley, who has partnered with Marshall since the first film in the Bourne series.  Similarly, the veteran producer sensed a readiness to revisit Jurassic Park by those who missed the classic Amblin style of filmmaking.  “I don’t think audiences would have the chance to appreciate what had been done in the first and subsequent films had a next installment come out in, say, 2005,” reflects Crowley.  “In the interim, a new generation of moviegoers has established this fascination and obsession with movies from the time when the first film was released.  In that absence, a whole new crop of filmmakers has emerged who are truly intrigued and passionate about this kind of cinema.”

While countless directors were interested in relaunching one of the most successful and popular franchises in movie history, Spielberg, Marshall and Crowley searched for some time for a creative talent who could honor the spirit and legacy of the franchise and propel it forward creatively.

New Director: Colin Trevorrow

jurassic_world_4_prattThey found their successor in newcomer Colin Trevorrow.  A pioneer of the online short film, Trevorrow’s first feature, 2012’s critically lauded Safety Not Guaranteed, was nominated for multiple awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and won an Independent Spirit Award.  His work caught the eye of Spielberg and Marshall, who felt his fresh and decisive perspective—rooted in character but delivering in speculative thematics—made him worthy of carrying the torch.

The longtime filmmaking partners felt confident that Trevorrow could deliver the magic, thrills and wonder that moviegoers expect from a Jurassic movie and simultaneously infuse it with fresh perspective in the ongoing narrative.  Spielberg explains his decision: “I had seen Safety Not Guaranteed and the very last scene was what convinced me that Colin was the right person to direct Jurassic World.  I flew out of my seat when I saw the last scene of that movie.  Frank showed me the film, and that’s when I knew that if Colin was good in the meeting, he was going to get the job.  He was completely enthusiastic, both as a filmmaker and as a fan, but also had a story to tell.  He didn’t just come in and say, ‘I’d like to render my services directing the fourth installment.’”

Director Colin Trevorrow: Childlike Wonder

jurassic_world_5_howard“When we were looking for a director, it was of huge importance to Steven to find a great storyteller and we found that in Colin,” continues Marshall.  “What we also discovered was that Colin was deeply steeped in Jurassic Park and would bring that sense of childlike wonder to the film.”

Having come of age in an age-group that grew up watching Amblin films, Trevorrow acknowledges that his perspective as a director is undeniably influenced by Spielberg: “A part of what drives me is the notion that  I’m representing a generation of people who grew up on Steven’s films and want to see these types of stories continue to be told.”

jurassic_world_6_prattIn that spirit, Trevorrow’s objective was to deliver the perfect balance of wide-eyed wonder and seat-gripping thrills that moviegoers expect from a Jurassic film, while introducing new characters and a story line full of ideas worthy of another chapter.  “We know we don’t want another film of people just running from dinosaurs and screaming; that’s been done before and done very well,” he says.  “I felt that what the audience wants, and I know what Steven wants, is to take this brilliant core concept and see where else we can go with it—to expand and open it up, while taking audiences back to a familiar place.”

Any skepticism regarding the young director’s ability to handle a film of this magnitude was quickly put at ease, reassures Crowley.  “When I first looked at Colin’s production résumé, there wasn’t anything that was even close in scale and scope to what we were attempting,” he offers.  “Still, from the beginning he exhibited real characteristics of leadership and had that inherent decisiveness required.  His comments and observations were wise, certainly far beyond his experience and years, and it was clear early on that he had what it takes.”

Strong Characters

jurassic_world_7Trevorrow and his writing partner, Derek Connolly, aimed to deliver a strong sense of character, scope and intrigue, while answering the most important questions for audiences.  Reveals the director: “The questions for us were, ‘Why would there be another installment?  What’s a story that we can tell and characters that we can introduce that make all of this worthwhile?

Connolly says that they were very cognizant of the difficult narrative journey ahead: “The magic of Jurassic Park was in the tone of the characters and the bouts of humor, horror and science.  We wanted to infuse those threads and that tone into the script.”

As writing partners, Trevorrow and Connolly’s perspectives complement each other, and their sensibilities worked perfectly to create the unique tone and pitch essential for the long-awaited next chapter in the Jurassic series.  “The combination of my sense of humor and Colin’s strong sense of story helped shape our shared overall goal for the movie,” explains Connolly.  “We were able to create a unique tone that, on our own, we might not possess but one that works when we come together.”

Master Class from Spielberg

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema was not lost on Trevorrow.  “For me, I can’t even pretend that I’m not a student throughout this process,” he gives.  “I know that I can make a film that is going to honor what Steven did, but I know I’m essentially getting a free master class in both filmmaking and in Jurassic Park.”

The director found a kindred spirit in Spielberg: “Steven and I both have a lot of enthusiasm for what we’re working on, and to have two people of different generations geeking out on the same stuff has been a thrill for me.  The moments where we’re actually able to create together and build new ideas, these are the things that I couldn’t have anticipated when I was younger.  As a creative person, that is something that can’t be matched.”

Recreating Magic of Original

Trevorrow’s hope for Jurassic World is a simple one: to re-create the magic that will harken audiences back to how he felt the first time he saw the movie.  “I have a very specific memory of Jurassic Park coming out on the last day of school, and there’s a feeling that goes along with that,” he shares.  “When everything is behind you, everything is ahead of you and you have that moment of being alone in a movie theater and being transported to where Jurassic Park takes you.”