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
Ariana Richards Got the Part of Lex in Jurassic Park with a Blood Curdling Scream
The T. Rex Roar Was a Whole Medley of Animal 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
Jeff Goldblum Is More Heroic Than Ian Malcolm
Spielberg Got a Lucky Raptor Break While Filming Jurassic Park
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
Fate Knew BD Wong Would Be Back
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
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 Helicopter Scene Foreshadows the Dinosaurs' Ability to Mate
The Science Is Slowly but Surely Catching up to Franchise
The Beauty of the First Jurassic Park Is That There Are Only 15 Minutes of Dinosaurs
The Lost World Has a Hidden King Kong Reference
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
Dr. Grant Was Right About Dinosaurs All Along!
Jurassic Park Was the Highest Grossing Movie of Its Time
Both Jurassic Park and The Lost World Were Actually Finished EARLY
Chris Pratt Is Constantly Rendered in LEGO
Raptors Were Almost a Bigger Part of The Lost World
Jurassic Park III Sometimes Felt Like Leftovers... Because it Was
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
While Spielberg Was Winning Oscars for Schindler's List, His Jurassic Park Fx Team Was Winning Them for Jurassic Park
Billy's Guess in JP III Was a Nod to the Fans
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
The Lost World Was Always Trying to Be Bigger Than Jurassic Park
Vince Vaughn Got the Part in The Lost World Because of the Jaws Theme
Another Iconic Actor Almost Played Ian Malcolm
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
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.
Joe Johnston Wanted to Direct The Lost World
Steven Spielberg Wasn't the Only Big Name Choice to Direct the First Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park and ER Had Some Shared Faces
Trevor Morgan, who played Eric Kirby, also played Scott Anspaugh on ER. Scott Anspaugh was the son of Dr. Donald Anspaugh, who was Chief of Staff. In Jurassic Park III, he plays William H. Macy’s son. William H. Macy played Dr. David Morganstern on ER, who was the Chief of Surgery.
Jurassic Park 4 Was Almost... Real Silly
Think genetically engineered dinosaur hybrids seems silly? Half raptor, half T. rex, crazy right?
In the original drafts and concepts for Jurassic Park 4 (before it was even called Jurassic Park: Extinction, and then Jurassic World) the idea for the new dinosaurs was human/dinosaur hybrids. We’re not kidding, see above. That’s actual concept art.