Re-released in cinemas today: Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg's classic adventure, which, if I've read this correctly, took 65 million years to create. That's a huge amount of pre-production, retakes and scheduling conflicts. Take that Stanley Kubrick and your legendarily shoots! But every millennium of pre-production was worth it for what is, quite frankly, one of the Greatest Blockbusters Of All Time.
And yes, when we're talking about films with gestation periods this big, we do mean OF ALL TIME!!!
“Remind me to thank John for a lovely weekend.”
Jurassic Park may well be the first event movie of my lifetime. Born in 1982, I'd missed out on Star Wars, Ghostbusters was too much for a two year old and Batman, well, even at the age of 7 I didn't really care for Tim Burton. But Jurassic Park. Wowser. At that age I was the perfect consumer machine for Spielberg and Universal. Multiple cinema trips, T-Shirts, making of books, candy cigarettes with collectable trading cards, as Ian Malcolm said “you've patented it, and packaged it, you've slapped it on a plastic lunchbox”. I lapped it all up. For cool points I always say Luc Besson's Leon was the one that ignited my love of films. But it was Jurassic Park that got me into movies.
“We're gonna make a fortune with this place”
Let's crunch some numbers. Jurassic Park had an estimated budget of $63m. In the same year The Fugitive and The Firm topped out at around $45m. $63m would also get you a Demolition Man,while for Cliffhanger you'd need $70m. Even estimated that budget is ludicrously low by today's standards. Leaving aside any cheap remark about 'Jews being good with money' Spielberg created an entire world (including novel rights) for less than what it cost to make - taking in inflation - The Smurfs. It brought home $914m. In 1993 it was the biggest movie of all time, nudging itself up against the $1 Billion mark. According to Biographer Joseph McBride, Spielberg made $250m from a back end deal. Oy, and indeed, Vey!
“See, here I'm now sitting by myself, uh, er, talking to myself.”
Arguably, if ever a cast had so little to do with the success of a movie it was Jurassic Park. But nearly 20 years on, the performances are so indelibly blue-printed into your memory it's almost impossible to think of Dr. Alan Grant being played by Kurt Russell or Richard Dreyfuss. Okay much more the latter. But from Attenborough and his crazy Scotch accent down to Samuel L's 'extended cameo', the humans put stints that leave you entertained amongst all the “barking and biting”. Even the kids aren't painfully irritataing.
“Der Der Der da da...Der der der da da, Der Der Der da da DA DA!”
Flicking through some old reviews of JP I happened across a Variety piece that described John Williams' score as “unnecessarily bombastic”. They call him Mr. Bombastic. I say he Mr. Fantastic. I touch him on the back and say, well, best leave that thought there. Bombastic yes. Unnecessarily so, Hell No! This is a film about fecking huge dinosaurs eating people. I want Mr. Bombastic and Mr. Williams delivers. But the score wasn't all grandiose, tuba humping. Cast your ears on the below pretty little lament. If you can do so without picturing yourself in a helicopter fleeing to safety I'll give you my last can of shaving foam.
“It's so important to your future that you not finish that sentence”
In July of this year Senior Spielbergo's American counterpart Mr. Spielberg announced that JP4 was on it's way. Quoted as saying, “We have a story, we have a writer, and we’re hoping to make Jurassic Park 4 within the next two or three years” it would appear all systems are go for getting The Park back online. And there are genuine moments in The Lost World and III that make you think another outing for Captain Raptor and Lt. Rex would be worth a go. That magic though, that magic of the first time you ever laid eyes on a fully realised dinosaur. Sorry Steve, even you can't recreate that.
Jurassic Park is in cinemas now.