There are a lot of great movies out there. But there are only a handful that have been able to capture the imagination of audiences for generation after generation.
Parents wait impatiently for the day when their kids are old enough to enjoy classics like Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music. And, in some households, introducing the young ones to the Star Wars trilogy is a rite of passage.
When the kids are old enough to cope with the odd nightmare, movie nights take on a whole new perspective. Switch off the lights, hide under the blankets and let the Jurassic Park initiation begin.
This summer, 22 years after the original opened to record-breaking crowds, the latest evolution of Steven Spielberg’s monumental blockbuster hits the big screen.
The story is simple. Jurassic World is now a fully-functioning theme park, but folk are getting bored with your common or garden dinosaur and the attraction is enduring a slump in attendance.
In a bid to woo back the crowds, geneticists are tasked with creating a one-of-a-kind hybrid creature that inevitably escapes and terrorizes the park.
Fans are getting nervous. Some say this fourth installment in the Jurassic Park series is a step too far and has not got a hope of recreating the phenomenon of the original 1993 blockbuster.
The buzz was, indeed, unprecedented. The film took $100 million in its opening weekend and remains one of the highest grossing movies of all time.
But it was the spin-off merchandising that went alongside the movie that got everyone’s blood pumping. Kids snapped up video games to play on their Game Boys and, when the later movies were released, more sophisticated versions were created for the likes of X-Box and PlayStation.
Jurassic’s gaming appeal has not waned. Even now, you can log on to casinos online and play Jurassic Park-themed slots complete with the original characters and realistic jungle graphics. At 32Red for example, the 1993 blockbuster has been transformed into a five reel game with intense 3d imagery to create an innovative gaming experience.
And, as recently as 2012, the Jurassic Park Builder app was launched giving players the chance to rebuild the theme park on Isla Nublar and populate it with all manner of dino creatures.
The merchandising of the time has turned into the memorabilia of today. Last year, a seven-foot concrete prop used as a velociraptor’s cage in the opening scenes of Jurassic Park took bids of up to $100,000 on ebay.
At the time, there were around 1,000 different items of Jurassic Park stuff available to buy from 100 licensees. Movie men reckoned the merchandise was worth around $65 million in advertising support.
Dinosaur stuff like finger puppets with the “feel of real dino skin”, roaring flashlights and lunchboxes emblazoned with “Warning: Biological Material” were all must-have artifacts at the time.
For some fans, owning stuff with a T-Rex on it was simply not enough. They wanted to experience the real thing – and the marketing men made sure they were not disappointed.
Even before the film was complete, it is said that Spielberg was using his inexhaustible imagination to help create a thrill-seeking ride for Universal Studios.
Complete with full-scale life-size robotic dinosaurs, adventurers were introduced to the wonders and horrors of the Lost World. The experience culminated in a 50 mph, 35 feet vertical drop into a pool of icy water. There was no acting required for the inevitable screams of terror.
So, will the Jurassic World repeat the success of the original?
We are certainly expecting flawless CGI technology and special effects that will blow us away. But it is nothing we have not seen before.
Quite rightly the 1993 movie won Oscars for its ground-breaking sound and visual effects and, more than two decades on, it still looks modern and fresh.
At the time, the movie’s primary appeal was seeing dinosaurs brought to life. The script was almost secondary because everyone was concentrating on the amazing dinosaurs – and they were not made of Plasticine.
Since then, we have had Walking with Dinosaurs, Godzilla and countless other technologically genius movies that bring the impossible alive.
Jurassic World cannot rely on the dinosaurs alone to impress a technologically sophisticated audience. So, the story will be key.
But at its heart will always be massive, flesh-ripping monsters with ear-splitting roars from which you simply want to “RUUUNNN!!”
Article by Dave Catchpole