Jurassic Park, one of the highest grossing movies ever and a milestone in the use of computer-generated special effects, is 25 years old in July.
The film, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, made over a billion dollars at the box office and spawned four sequels, the latest of which, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, is now in cinemas.
All four previous Jurassic Park movies are also available to purchase in the BT TV Store with Jurasic Deals at £4.99 for a limited period. To get you in the dino spirit, here are 14 strange but true facts about the original 1993 movie.
Steven Spielberg discovered the novel while working on ER
Jurassic Park was adapted from the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, who had had some success from the idea of a theme park gone-wrong as writer and director of 1973 film Westworld.
Spielberg first got wind of Crichton's idea of a dino-disaster film when the two met in 1989 to discuss a screenplay that would become the television series ER. The director expressed an interest in making the movie before the book was even published. "I was really just trying to make a good sequel to Jaws, on land," Spielberg later admitted.
But he wasn’t alone…
Spielberg wasn’t the only major director interested in bringing the novel to cinematic life. Tim Burton (Batman), James Cameron (Terminator), Richard Donner (Superman) and Joe Dante (Gremlins) also expressed interest in adapting the book into a big budget blockbuster but after four studios bid for the rights, Universal Studios acquired the option for Spielberg and paid Crichton another $500,000 to write the first draft of the screenplay.
Has Dr Malcom already reappeared?
Dr Ian Malcolm, the mathematician and expert on chaos theory, is remembered for his hilarious one-liners, dry wit and effortlessly cool black attire. So it’s no wonder that there’s been much fanfare around his character's return in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom after a two decade absence.
However, eagle-eyed viewers have spotted that Dr Malcolm has already appeared – in a roundabout way – in 2015’s Jurassic World. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene, his book God Creates Dinosaurs is being read by the children’s chaperone, the ill-fated Zara, as they ride the monorail. He's even pictured on the back of the book. Clearly Dr Malcolm’s theories have withstood the test of time…
Jurassic Park features a homage to The Shining
Spielberg is a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick’s work and viewers of 2018’s Ready Player One will recall his homage to the hotel setting of The Shining. But the original Jurassic Park also featured a tribute to the 1980 horror film.
In the terrifying scene in which Lex and Tim fend off the raptors in the kitchen, the velociraptor being locked in the meat freezer and Alex hiding in a metal cupboard both directly pay tribute to when Wendy and Danny evade Jack during murderous spree.
Sean Connery was considered to play Hammond
Sean Connery was one of the original frontrunners to play Jurassic Park founder John Hammond but turned it down due to wanting a fatter pay check. But Sir Richard Attenborough’s performance as Hammond was his first in 14 years – with Spielberg convincing him to come out of his acting retirement.
Meanwhile, after Harrison Ford turned down the role of paleontologist Alan Grant, Jim Carrey auditioned for the role only to lose out to Sam Neill.
Not all the dinosaurs’ behaviours were accurate
While Spielberg had palaeontologists on set and strived for as much accuracy as creatively possible, mistakes were still made. One is the Jurassic Park conceit that the T. rex would have had poor eyesight, which helps Lex and Alan to avoid becoming its next meal by standing stock still in its immediate presence. But new findings strongly imply that the T. rex not only had an excellent sense of smell but also outstanding eyesight.
The other 'deliberate' mistake was that of all the dinosaurs featured, only two lived in the Jurassic period (the Brachiosaurus, above and the venomous, frilly-necked Dilophosaurus - which in real life were the size of velociraptors). Most of the other creatures emerged during the Cretaceous period some 60 million years later.
George Lucas took over post-production work
Star Wars creator George Lucas helped create Jurassic Park. When Spielberg completed filming 12 days ahead of schedule and left immediately to begin working on his next masterpiece – Schindler’s List, he handed the post-production reigns over to his friend and contemporary Lucas.
Lucas, who had collaborated with Spielberg on the Indiana Jones trilogy and who founded Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects pioneers who created the digital dinosaurs for the film, would receive a ‘special thanks’ in Jurassic Park’s credits.
Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern coupled up on set
Jurassic Park may not strike you as the most romantic movie, but love was clearly in the air as Jeff and Laura embarked on a two-year relationship after the film wrapped. Jeff told a reporter in 1993 of the blossoming romance: “I was struck - I'd been a big fan of hers. I think she's an amazing actress, and a spectacular person. I was struck from the beginning. But after the movie we realised we liked each other.”
Volunteer Boy conspiracy
At the beginning of Jurassic Park Alan scares a ‘volunteer boy’ on a dinosaur dig by saying he would be no match against a velociraptor. Eagle-eyed fans have since suggested that the chubby little fellow looks remarkably like a young Chris Pratt – who now stars in the two Jurassic World movies.
Sadly, there's no truth to the legend: Volunteer Boy was played by Whitby Hertford who is still an actor and theatre director today, and who voiced dinosaur Hyp in the 1995 straight-to-video animation The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving.
Jaws is playing on Nedry’s computer
Oh Nedry. If it wasn’t for you lives would have been saved – both human and reptilian – and Jurassic Park would have remained open. But that would hardly make for a compelling blockbuster would it? It's Nedry (an anagram of Nerdy), the hilarious yet sinister computer programmer, who sabotages Jurassic Park to steal dinosaur embryos for a rival company.
But in one of his office-based scenes, Spielberg’s first blockbuster hit – Jaws – is also briefly shown playing on his computer. So not only is Nedry corrupt and greedy, but he’s also an office slacker.
The animatronic T. rex proved to be extraordinarily strong
The animatronic T. rex was deemed a revolutionary feat in the film industry at the time – and it proved to be far more powerful than anticipated. When Lex and Tim are in the jeep and the T. rex shatters its glass roof, the children's screams were genuine - the glass wasn’t scripted to break, but the young actors' instinctive reaction only adds to the realism of the attack.
'UR ASS Park'
In the final scene of Jurassic Park, as the survivors flee the ravaged island, the Jurassic Park logo is shown splattered with mud – with only the letters ‘UR ASS Park’ in view.
Only 15 minutes of the original movie feature dinosaurs
Bizarrely dinosaurs aren’t in the movie anywhere near as much as you might imagine. In fact, they are only present for 15 minutes of the entire two-hour-and-seven-minute feature. Speilberg has previous for this - the great white was only on screen for four minutes of Jaws and you have to wait a full 76 minutes before the killer shark is seen in all its gory glory.
How the water ripple effect was created…
The simple yet terrifying effect of having a cup of water ripple as the stomping T. rex got ever closer to the crippled car gave Speilberg some real headaches, as simply shaking it using a hidden motor failed to produce the perfect concentric circles the director wanted.
Eventually the film's dinosaur effects supervisor, Michael Lantieri, came up with a solution: he experimented with playing different notes on his guitar until he found the perfect tone that created the vibrating circles. When the scene was filmed, a guitar string ran through the car and under the dashboard and someone lay on the floor to pluck the string at the right time. Genius!
The first four Jurassic Park movies and the Jurassic Park Collection are available to buy now in the BT TV Store.
Get Jurasic Deals at £4.99 for a limited period on BT TV,
Image credits: PA Images/REX/Shutterstock