As classic movies go, Jurassic Park is always right there near the top of the list. Short of maybe Star Wars it’s one of the most definitive films of all time. The first film not only held the record as the highest grossing film of all time but did so well that it nearly quadrupled interest in paleontology and paleontologists. You know and love this franchise, but what behind the scenes facts and interesting Jurassic Park trivia is still out there to learn? Read on to find out!
The first film (as is usually the case) was certainly the best, but despite being less critically acclaimed, Spielberg’s sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park is nothing to scoff at either. It reinvigorated that insane passion for dinosaurs, advanced CG/animatronic hybrids and further instilled a sense of wonder in an entire generation, getting them thinking about just what it would be like if dinosaurs were still around today. The third film is basically an amusement park ride on film, (which in some ways really fits the tone and the concept of these blockbuster Hollywood movies) for better or worse.
To celebrate one of the greatest film franchises of all time, we’ve decided to look back and unearth some trivia you may not know from all Jurassic Park movies. Vote up the most interesting Jurassic Park facts below!
The T. Rex Occasionally Turned Itself on, Terrifying the Crew
On set, the T. rex occasionally malfunctioned, due to the rain. Producer Kathleen Kennedy recalled, “The T. rex went into the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Scared the crap out of us. We’d be, like, eating lunch, and all of a sudden a T. rex would come alive. At first we didn’t know what was happening, and then we realized it was the rain. You’d hear people start screaming.”
The T. Rex Animatronic Was Incredibly Powerful in Real Life as Well as on Screen
The crew had to have safety meetings about the T. rex; it weighed 12,000 pounds and was extremely powerful. They used flashing lights to announce when it was about to come on to alert the crew, because if you stood next to it and the head went by at speed, it felt like a bus going by.
The T. Rex Coming Through the Glass in Jurassic Park Was an Accident
In Jurassic Park when the T. rex comes through the glass roof of the Ford Explorer in the first attack, the glass was not meant to break. It’s no wonder those kids’ screams sounded so genuine.
Ariana Richards Got the Part of Lex in Jurassic Park with a Blood Curdling Scream
To cast Hammond’s granddaughter, Lex, Spielberg auditioned a number of girls and asked them to record their screams. Ariana Richards recalled that she won the role because she was the only one whose taped scream was loud enough to awaken a sleeping Kate Capshaw (Spielberg’s wife) and send her scurrying down the hall to see if her children were all right.
The T. Rex Roar Was a Whole Medley of Animal Sounds
The Tyrannosaurus’s roars were a combination of dog, penguin, tiger, alligator, and elephant sounds.
The Spinosaurus in JP III Was the Largest Animatronic Ever Built
The Spinosaurus was the largest animatronic ever built. It weighed 12 tons and was operated by hydraulics, which allowed it to operate while completely submerged in water.
According to an interview with William H. Macy, the film’s animatronic Spinosaurus had a 1,000-horsepower motor and could turn its head at twice the force of gravity, with the tip of its nose moving at a speed of more than 100 miles per hour.
The Lost World Had an Intentional Godzilla Moment
The Japanese tourists running from the rampaging T. rex in the San Diego scene (an obvious homage to Godzilla movies) are saying, in Japanese, “I left Japan to get away from this?!”
The Jurassic Park III Dig Was Real
The establishing wide shot of the dig site in Jurassic Park III was actual footage of Jack Horner’s excavation, filmed in early summer 2001. The site contained several large fossils of Tyrannosaurs and some Hadrosaurs.
Jeff Goldblum Is More Heroic Than Ian Malcolm
In the shooting script, it was written that during the Tyrannosaur’s escape, Malcolm would simply get out of the car and run away, much as Gennaro had done moments before. In fact, this is how Malcolm behaves in the scene as written in the book. When the time came to film the scene, it was Jeff Goldblum’s idea to make his flight more heroic, by having him distract the Tyrannosaur so Grant could save the children.
Spielberg Got a Lucky Raptor Break While Filming Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg wanted the velociraptors to be about 10 feet tall, which was taller than they were known to be. However, during filming, paleontologists uncovered 10 foot tall specimens of raptors called Utahraptors.
Every Film in the Franchise References Another Spielberg Film
Jurassic Park: Shortly after Nedry makes his first appearance in the control room, during his argument with Hammond, one can clearly see Jaws playing in a small video window on one of Nedry’s computer screens. That movie was, of course, also directed by Steven Spielberg.
The Lost World: When the bus crashes into the front of the video rental store, a poster can be seen for Hook, which Spielberg also directed.
Jurassic Park III: When the paleontologists enter the bar for dinner with the Kirbys, you can see a Jurassic Park (1993) pinball machine in the background.
Jurassic World: The great white shark being eaten in Jurassic World is a clear homage to Jaws.
Steven Spielberg Gave out WRAPtors as Wrap Gifts
All of the cast members were given a raptor model signed by Steven Spielberg as a gift once the film had wrapped. It looked very frightening, and Ariana Richards has it in her house to shock anyone coming in, like a guard at the gate. Jeff Goldblum’s model has a prime spot in his house and is a cherished object. Laura Dern put her Raptor model in her son’s room near his crib. When he was older and saw it he screamed like never before. She had to put it in storage but hopes one day the two will be friends.
Fate Knew BD Wong Would Be Back
In the first Jurassic Park BD Wong is prominently billed in the opening credits as one of the leads, despite having only two minutes of screen time. He is, in fact, the only actor who was in any films of the original trilogy to make an appearance in Jurassic World.
At the Time of Its Release, Jurassic Park Was Breaking All of the Records
The film opened on Friday, June 11, 1993, and broke box office records its first weekend, bringing in $47 million. It eventually went on to make more than $900 million worldwide.
David Koepp remembers the day it opened: “I was in New York and I walked to the Ziegfeld [Theatre] to see how it was doing. The guy comes out and announces to the big line, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the 7 o’clock show of Jurassic Park is sold out.’ And people go, ‘Oooh.’ And he goes, ‘Also the 10 o’clock show is sold out.’ And they went, ‘Ooooooh.’ ‘And also Saturday night’s 7 and 10 o’clock shows are also sold out.’ And I was like, ‘I’m not an expert, but I think this is very good.'”
There’s a Logical (and Thorough) Reason That the Triceratops Was Sick
The guests’ encounter with the sick Triceratops ends without any clear explanation as to why the animal is sick. Michael Crichton’s original novel and the screenplay, however, includes an explanation: the Stegosaur/Triceratops lacked suitable teeth for grinding food and so, like birds, would swallow rocks and use them as gizzard stones. In the digestive tract, these rocks would grind the food to aid in digestion. After six weeks, the rocks would become too smooth to be useful, and the animal would regurgitate them. When finding and eating new rocks to use, the animal would also swallow West Indian Lilac berries. The fact that the berries and stones are regurgitated explains why Ellie never finds traces of them in the animal’s excrement.
Jack Horner Was So Vital to The Lost World, They Based a Character off of Not Just Him but Also on His Rival
Alan Grant, from the original Jurassic Park, was based on paleontologist Jack Horner, who both Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg consulted about dinosaur behavior. For The Lost World, the character Robert Burke is based on rival paleontologist Robert Bakker, with whom Horner has a friendly feud.
Their major disagreement is over the behavior of Tyrannosaurus rex. Horner argues that T. Rex was a scavenger, while Bakker insists that T. Rex must have been a predator. Horner reportedly asked to have Burke eaten by the T. Rex in The Lost World. Bakker was apparently flattered, and wrote back to Horner, saying “I told you rex was a predator!”
Steven Spielberg’s DNA Is Still in Jurassic World
The story idea for Jurassic World was created by Steven Spielberg and Mark Protosevich who got together privately on several occasions (without studio observance) to confer the notion of doing another installment in the Jurassic Park franchise.
The Helicopter Scene Foreshadows the Dinosaurs’ Ability to Mate
Grant fashioning a functioning seat-belt with only two latches and no latch plate foreshadows a later scene where the dinosaurs are suddenly able to breed, despite that they were all originally female.
The Science Is Slowly but Surely Catching up to Franchise
In 2005, paleontologist Dr. Mary Schweitzer discovered red blood cells and soft tissue in the fossilized bones of a T. rex, meaning dinosaur cloning may someday become a reality.
The Beauty of the First Jurassic Park Is That There Are Only 15 Minutes of Dinosaurs
There are only 15 minutes of actual dinosaur footage in the film: nine minutes are Stan Winston’s animatronics, and six minutes feature ILM’s CGI.
The Lost World Has a Hidden King Kong Reference
The ship that carries the dinosaur to San Diego is called The Venture, which was also the name given to the ship that brought King Kong to New York City in the 1933 film.
Raptors Had Feathers Added for JP III to Mirror Real Life Discoveries
Mirroring the latest paleontology finds that were made at the time, feathers were added onto various parts of the Velociraptor males, most noticeably on the top of their head. More recent finds suggest that raptors were indeed covered in feathers, a fact most members of the general public still find hard to digest.
However, the type of feather they used in the movie is incorrect. Real raptors had the same kind of feathers as modern birds, and these covered their entire body, save for the tip of their snout.
Jurassic Park Became the Permenant Perception of What Many Dinosaurs Looked Like, Even If It Was Wrong
The Dilophosaurus’s venom-spitting and neck-frill became so iconic that almost every other appearance of the animal in popular media, as well as most of the Dilophosaurus children’s toys advertise at least one or both of these aspects. Some even leave out the dinosaur’s striking double-crests. In reality, however, the spitting ability was made up by Michael Crichton, while adding the frill was Spielberg’s idea. Real Dilophosaurus possessed neither of these traits, with the twin crests and its thin jaws (the latter of which isn’t very evident in the movie’s design) being its real discerning features.
Dr. Grant Was Right About Dinosaurs All Along!
Years after the film wrapped, it was discovered due to fossil impressions of velociraptor skin that they were feathered, implying that Grant was indeed right that they evolved into birds. Later films adopted this concept as more and more evidence to prove it came to light.
Jurassic Park Was the Highest Grossing Movie of Its Time
In its initial release, Jurassic Park earned $357 million in North America and a total of $914 million worldwide. That was enough to surpass Spielberg’s E.T. to take the record as the biggest hit movie of all time, a record it held for nearly five years, until Titanic.
Both Jurassic Park and The Lost World Were Actually Finished EARLY
Like the first Jurassic Park, The Lost World finished shooting ahead of schedule. Photography wrapped in just 69 days, though they had scheduled for 74.
Chris Pratt Is Constantly Rendered in LEGO
There will be LEGO sets based on Jurassic World, making it the third time Chris Pratt has been portrayed in LEGO, with the other two being The LEGO Movie (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
Raptors Were Almost a Bigger Part of The Lost World
The script called for a scene where the velociraptors got on board the Venture as it was about to set sail. As chaos ensued, the T. rex also got loose, and killed everything else aboard. This explains why many of the crew members are dead in places the T. rex cannot reach. The scene was never filmed.
Jurassic Park III Sometimes Felt Like Leftovers… Because it Was
A few of the action sequences in Jurassic Park III were borrowed from left over ideas for the first two Jurassic Park films. Some of the ideas were even in the original scripts and made it as far as being storyboarded before they were scrapped due to time and budget constraints. These scenes include the pteranodon and river boat sequences.
Joseph Mazzelo Got the Part in Jurassic Park Because of His Audition for Hook
After Joseph Mazzelo was turned down for the role of Jack Banning in Spielberg’s Hook for being too young, Spielberg told Mazzello that he was still impressed with his audition and would try to cast him in a future project. Mazzello was then cast as Tim in Jurassic Park.
As Mazzello recalls, “Steven had me screen-test with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman for Hook. I was just too young for the role. And because of that, Steven came up to me and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, Joey. I’m going to get you in a movie this summer.’ Not only a nice promise to get, but to have it be one of the biggest box-office smashes of all time? That’s a pretty good trade.”
Mazzello’s casting led Spielberg to reverse the ages of the children, as he decided that casting a girl younger than Mazzello would be too young to be placed in danger. Lex was therefore made the older child, and the computer expert as well. In Crichton’s original novel, Tim is older, and is both the dinosaur and computer enthusiast.
The Dinosaurs in the First Jurassic Park Were the First Fully CG Flesh and Blood Creatures Ever on Screen
For the animatronic dinosaurs, Spielberg hired Stan Winston (because of his amazing work on Aliens). Winston built the life-size lizards, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops. Spielberg also hired stop-motion puppeteer Phil Tippett to animate model dinosaurs that would be superimposed in post-production, and Dennis Muren (fresh from creating the molten-metal morphing effects for Terminator 2: Judgment Day) to see if dinosaurs could be created using computer-generated imagery.
The dinosaurs Muren created on the computer were the first major flesh-and-blood CGI creatures in movie history. When he screened an early test of wire-frame dinosaurs in motion for the rest of the filmmakers, Tippett realized he was out of a job. “I think I’m extinct,” he told Spielberg, who liked the quip so much that he put it in the movie. In reality, Tippett stayed on as an adviser to the computer animators, using his knowledge of paleontology and pantomime to instruct the effects artists in how dinosaurs should move.
Universal Had High Hopes for the Film Before a Single Frame Was Even Shot
Universal paid Michael Crichton $2 million for the rights to his novel before it was even published.
After production Spielberg shared Universal’s confidence in the film, handing off post-production duties to George Lucas and starting his next film ( Schindler’s List) early because he knew Jurassic Park would be great and no longer needed his supervision.
The Jurassic Park Ride at Universal Studios Cost More than the Film Did
Despite a hurricane in the middle of production, the shoot finished 12 days ahead of schedule and on budget. It cost only $63 million to make and another $65 million to market, both insanely low figures by today’s blockbuster standards.
But even before Spielberg began filming Jurassic Park, Universal Studios engineers were at work building Jurassic Park: The Ride, an attraction at Universal Studios in Hollywood that opened in 1996 at a cost of $110 million (yup, nearly twice what the film cost to make).
Universal has since added an expansive Jurassic Park section to its Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, FL, ironic considering Hammond’s line “Why didn’t I build in Orlando?” during the crazy storm.
Paleontologist Jack Horner Was Thoroughly Involved in JP III
When Ellie is talking to Grant in Jurassic Park III she mentions getting a quote from Jack Horner for her book. Jack Horner is a paleontologist who was Michael Crichton’s inspiration for the character of Alan Grant and was also a consultant on all three Jurassic Park films.
It was Horner’s research that inspired the idea of the raptors refusing to abandon their young, and Dr. Grant’s brown truck with the Museum of the Rockies and Montana State University logos on it is actually based on a vehicle that belongs to Horner.
Steven Spielberg Made an Impossible Amount of Money from the Franchise
Steven Spielberg received $250,000,000 from Jurassic Park‘s gross and profit participations as well as the merchandise for the films, the largest amount any single individual has made from a single film. Speaking of merch, all the merchandise (T-shirts, stuffed dinosaurs, lunch boxes, flasks, etc.) shown in the film were, in some part, actually created to be sold with the movie.
Much of The Lost World Came from the Original Jurassic Park Novel
David Koepp lifted several set pieces from the original Jurassic Park novel for use in the sequel. These include: the procompsognathus attacking the young girl; hiding from the Tyrannosaur behind a waterfall, while the creature tried to find them using its tongue; Dieter Stark being killed by Procompsognathids (though it was Hammond in the novel); Roland Tembo tranquilizing the Tyrannosaur (Robert Muldoon in the novel).
While Spielberg Was Winning Oscars for Schindler’s List, His Jurassic Park Fx Team Was Winning Them for Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park won Oscars for Best Visual Effects (shared in part by Winston, Tippett, and Muren), Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing (Rydstrom shared both of those). At the very same Academy Awards ceremony, Spielberg won Best Picture and Best Director, Michael Kahn won Best Editor, and John Williams won Best Score – all for Schindler’s List.
Billy’s Guess in JP III Was a Nod to the Fans
After the Spinosaurus attack on the airplane in Jurassic Park III, Grant asks Billy how he would classify the animal. Billy’s first inclination is to say the dinosaur is a Suchomimus or Baryonyx, due to the large snout. This is a joke meant for many fans of the film who, when the new movie’s logo was first revealed, said the exact same thing Billy did. Many long pages on the message boards of fan pages and the official page were dedicated to this debate.
The Film Was Very Close to Being Largely Stop-Motion Instead of CGI
Phil Tippet became quite depressed when he learned that none of the stop-motion creatures he had been developing would be used in the film. However, shortly after that decision had been made, ILM animators discovered they did actually have a use for him.
While none of his stop-motion models would be seen in the film, his techniques were determined to be quite useful in animating the computer-generated dinosaurs, especially given how much research he had put into animal movement. Rather than creating the dinosaur motion using key-frame animation, it was decided to build a stop-motion armature for each computer generated dinosaur and manipulate it as they would for a stop-motion film. These armatures were specially built with motion-sensors, and linked up to the animated dinosaurs being created on the computer. Thus, the motion of the stop-motion armature was directly translated into the computer-generated version that appears in the final film.
Writer Michael Crichton Always Felt Like Ian Malcolm, Spielberg Felt Like Hammond
Michael Crichton has said that his views on science and genetic engineering are largely expressed by Ian Malcolm. Steven Spielberg, however, saw many parallels to himself in the character of John Hammond.
The Lost World Was Always Trying to Be Bigger Than Jurassic Park
Writer David Koepp said that when he was writing the script for The Lost World, he taped a fan letter next to his computer screen. The letter was from a viewer of the original Jurassic Park film who complained they “waited too long” to show the dinosaurs in that film.
Vince Vaughn Got the Part in The Lost World Because of the Jaws Theme
Vince Vaughn came to Steven Spielberg’s attention when the director was asked to approve the use of the Jaws theme music for a party scene in Vaughn’s breakthrough movie, Swingers.
Another Iconic Actor Almost Played Ian Malcolm
Jim Carrey was on the shortlist of actors in the final running to play Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm. What a different movie that would have been.
The Lost World’s Sarah Harding Is an Amalgamation of Characters from the Book
In the book, Sarah was an animal behaviorist, not a paleontologist; the paleontologist Malcolm went to to save Isla Sorna was a man named Richard Levine, a character who only made it into the film through certain aspects of the Sarah character.
Originally, Dr. Ian Malcolm’s team included a fifth member, a paleontologist named Dr. Juttson. He was obviously inspired by the character Richard Levine from the novel. But Dr. Juttson was dropped due to an already overcrowded cast, and most of his lines were given to Sarah.
The Jurassic World Composer’s First Job Was Coincidentally on a Very Familiar Video Game
The music in the Jurassic World trailer is a rendition of John Williams’s original theme, as conducted by Michael Giacchino. This marks the first Jurassic film for Giacchino, however, his first job as a composer was to make the music for the PlayStation game The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Dr. Hammond Beat out Spielberg for the Best Picture Oscar
Richard Attenborough, who played park impresario John Hammond, was best known as a director of biopics (Gandhi, Chaplin). Before that, he’d been a celebrated actor, but he’d put acting on hold after 1979, when his directing career took off. Jurassic Park marked his first role in 14 years, and it resuscitated his acting career at age 69, leading to prominent roles in Miracle on 34th Street (as Kris Kringle) and Elizabeth, among others.
With Jurassic Park, Spielberg had to direct the man who beat him for the Best Director Oscar in 1983. Attenborough’s film Gandhi beat Spielberg’s E.T. for Best Picture that year as well.