“We just got hired to write a Jurassic Park movie!”
In 2001, Jurassic Park III came and went, leaving us with the image of three pteranodons gliding towards Costa Rica. Then: nothing. The phenomenally successful dinosaur franchise became fossilised, rumours of a fourth movie regularly arising and then dissipating over the next decade. Universal and Steven Spielberg continued to bring in writers to try to crack the story. But it was only when a man named Colin came on board that the series had a true shot at de-extinction.
Colin Trevorrow (director): I first saw Jurassic Park on a Thursday night at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, California. My buddy worked there and he was able to watch it with other employees at midnight. So I put pillows under my blankets to make it seem like I was sleeping and snuck out of the house. I remember vividly the shot at the beginning where the camera pushes into a piece of amber with a mosquito inside. That hit me hard.
Pat Crowley (producer): In early 2012, we had a script (by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver) for Jurassic Park 4, as it was then known, and we were looking for a director. I talked to Colin on the phone and was really impressed. I told Steven, “We should meet him in person.”
Trevorrow: They flew me out a couple of days later. I live in Vermont, on the outside of the business, and I’m a believer that my work will speak for itself. I guess there was something in Safety Not Guaranteed that Steven was interested in bringing to his franchise.
Crowley: Colin was really impressive in the room. In his recounting of his love for the movies, we started feeling more and more confident in his abilities.
Trevorrow: They gave me the current draft of the script to read. And I instantly knew I couldn’t make that movie. I went back to them saying, “I’m so honoured, but if I’m going to do this we really need to build a different movie. I’ll bring in my writing partner Derek and do it quickly and efficiently. But please give us the opportunity to do that before this relationship ends.”
Derek Connolly (co-writer): Colin called me in April 2012 and said, “We just got hired to write a Jurassic Park movie! But we need to start from page 1. What are you doing right now?” It was crazy — literally the next day they put us in a beautiful hotel room in the Shangri-La in Santa Monica, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at the ocean.
Trevorrow: The story evolved very quickly. Derek would write during the day and I would take over at night. I wrote the Irrfan Khan and Vincent D”Onofrio and B.D. Wong characters. Derek is excellent at writing kids and women. We had a great time designing the action sequences, acting out the dinosaur parts. Scaring the guy bringing room service!
Connolly: I’m not sure if I should reveal this, but I had never seen a Jurassic Park film until the day Colin called me. I watched all three that afternoon for the first time in my life. The first one is amazing: it’s funny and the characters are great. The sequels, not so much.
Crowley: The idea that it’s a finished park came from Steven. Hammond’s dream. Or continuing nightmare…
Trevorrow: There was a tremendous amount of potential in it being a functional park. The other idea that had been developed already was a character who has a relationship with the raptors. In earlier versions of the script he was out there with them in the jungle, hunting down drug lords. I couldn’t go there. But I could make a movie about the very tenuous relationship between a man and a vicious animal. Those guys who run around with lions on Animal Planet fascinate me.
Connolly: Our approach was to take the idea of trained raptors and make it as realistic as can be. I’ve seen people put their head in the mouth of an alligator. Check YouTube.
Trevorrow: We knew we needed to enter the story through the eyes of a child. So we start in Wisconsin, in the snow, with these two kids leaving the house and getting into a mini-van. Their parents are sending them off to the airport and all these really mundane, normal things. Then they get on a ferry and a monorail and things are getting a little more strange. Suddenly, you arrive in Jurassic World. That’s the first moment of awe — and that’s when you play the theme!
Frank Marshall (producer): They promised a full, page-one rewrite in less than three weeks. We thought it would take more like a month, but they were actually a couple of days early. It was amazing.
Crowley: We felt we were ready to go. We set up a production office in Hawaii and we were moving. But Steven didn’t feel that the script was quite where he wanted it to be. So we pushed from a 2014 release to 2015. It was a blessing — it gave us a lot of time to figure out this huge movie.
Connolly: We spent the summer with Spielberg, refining stuff. David Koepp was in one of the meetings. It was surreal. All of a sudden I’m at Amblin and there’s Rosebud, the Rosebud from Citizen Kane, on the wall. And behind you is a scale model of his giant yacht. Crazy.