I wonder if when the late Michael Crichton finished writing his novel, Jurassic Park, back in the late eighties, he would have ever believed what a world wide phenomenon it would become. Could any author, aside from the Kings and Pattersons of this world, ever contemplate nine million printed copies of their book being sold?
Crichton’s novel was a modern take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, it focused on the dangers of playing god and genetic engineering. Jurassic Park was extremely entertaining, but also very, very believable.
It was a very well written, exciting and detailed look at the ‘what if’s’ of modern day science. It was also in touch with man kinds obsession with what roamed the planet millions of years before us. Dinosaurs.
The book was a hit. However, it was not until Hollywood big wig, Steven Spielberg, got his hands on it, that more people took notice. Starring Sam Neil, Jeff Goldblum and the late, Sir Richard Attenborough, Jurassic Park opened on Friday, June 11, 1993. After an astounding weekend, it had grossed more than $47 million, breaking box office records. The film went on to make almost a billion dollars world wide. Not only that, the book and film had created so much interest in dinosaurs, palaeontology had a record increase in students around the world. In actual fact, general interest in dinosaurs around the globe has been at an all time high, since the film smashed the box office.
A sequel was inevitable, but, luckily, Crichton had already written it, The Lost World. No surprise, but the response to this film was just as favourable as the last and held the record for the biggest opening weekend ever for four and a half years, running from May 1997 to November 2001.
Jurassic Park had become a multi billion dollar franchise. Steven Spielberg proved to us once more that he was a world class film maker. Jurassic Park writer, Michael Crichton, who was already a well known and successfully published author, cemented himself further as a leading, worldwide fiction writer.
Almost 22 years on, Jurassic Park has never faded from our memories. We all own a copy and as we flick through the channels after killing ourselves with turkey and trifle every single Christmas day, we can’t help but leave it on. The years gone by have given time for other film makers to jump on the Dino bandwaggon and produce their own versions of dinosaur themed movies. Nothing however, has ever come close to even kicking the heels of either Jurassic Park or the Lost World. Not even 2012’s Jurassic Shark.
In 2001, director Joe Johnston, known for ‘Honey, I shrunk the kids’ and ‘Jumanji’, brought us Jurassic Park 3. Mr. Speilberg was still attached to the project, but, only as executive producer. The film which starred Sam Neil, returning as Dr. Alan Grant, William H. Macy and an excrusiatingly irritating Tea Leoni, failed to match the success of its predecessors. It was also noticeable, that Michael Crichton had not written this particular Jurassic Park Story. And, with Jurassic Park 4 (or Jurassic World) due to hit our screens in 2015, it will be very interesting to see, 22 years on, how filmmaking techniques and technology can beat what Steven Speilberg brought us in 1993.
Sadly, within those years, writer Michael Crichton (above, left) died of lung cancer in 2008, aged 66. Most recently, actor and director, Sir Richard Attenborough (above, right), who played Jurassic Park founder, John Hammond, passed away at the great age of 90, after battling a long illness. Never forgotten, both will always be remembered. Crichton for his imagination and creation, that was the original novel, and Attenborough (amongst many other notable acting and directing projects) as the Jurassic Park founder, and loveable grand father, John Hammond.
I hope that in 22 years time, we still remember and religiously watch Jurassic Park and think of how it made us all feel when we first saw dinosaurs appear in front of us, in what is one of the most memorable moments in cinema, period.
Images, facts & figures curtesey of IMDb.com