A World of Dinos – Why So Popular?

Garon CockrellMiscellaneousLeave a Comment

“Jurassic Park” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Fire At Will [Photography]

It all began with a book. An ambitious billionaire develops a method to clone dinosaurs and populates an island-based theme park with them. When an assortment of scientists are invited to evaluate the enterprise, all hell breaks loose after an employee goes rogue and shuts down the power on the creatures’ electrified cages. In 1993, Steven Spielberg adapted Michael Crichton’s novel into a movie of the same name: Jurassic Park. It was the first and favorite of a blockbuster series that marked a generation or two of sci-fi fans. The second book, The Lost World, was also brought to the big screen in 1997 followed by a third movie in 2001, Jurassic Park III. Neither of the sequels, however, quite reached the success of the original, which reaped a hefty $357 million in domestic box office revenue, not to mention $934 million worldwide. The subsequent years were far from quiet in terms of spinoffs and memorabilia, but, short of revisiting the movies a few hundred times, the Jurassic Park phenomenon appeared to be over. But not for Spielberg.

Several delays and complications later, Jurassic World finally arrived in June 2015, directed by Colin Trevorrow, and starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Despite a few unflattering points regarding poor plot and characterization, the movie earned more or less double the revenue of Jurassic Park, surpassing all The Lord of the Rings movies in success ratings. Its positive reviews gush about the SFX and dinosaurs, intriguing ideas such as trained velociraptors and genetically engineered hybrid monsters, but also that oh so awesome cameo that sent waves of gasps and squeals through audiences across the globe. Rexy and Blue versus Indominus Rex. What a treat! The veteran T-Rex is said to reprise her role for Jurassic World II, and possibly the raptor squad too. The release date of June 22, 2018 is certain, as is the two-week early release for Europe. Juan Antonio Bayona will be directing, known for The Orphanage (2007), The Impossible (2012) and A Monster Calls (2016). Steven Spielberg, a constant overseer of all things Jurassic, will tag along as executive producer.

Over twenty years have gone by since the first instalment, and the franchise’s appeal has not diminished, thanks to three contributing factors.

“Jurassic Park Snack Packs” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Wootang01

Marketing

From T-shirts and keychains to figurines and original props, the market has remained hungry for Jurassic Park memorabilia, prices crossing even the five-digit mark for the original Velociraptor cage. The entertainment industry has played a major part in maintaining the public’s interest, not just in the movies but dinosaurs in general. Primeval (2007-2011) and Primeval: New World (2012-2013) are TV series centered on teams of scientists hunting prehistoric creatures stepping through holes in the fabric of time and space into the modern world. The Land Before Time franchise is a children’s animated film series about a group of young dinosaurs, totaling at 14 movies between 1988 and 2016. There are about 35 official video game spinoffs, including Lego: Jurassic World (2015), which has managed to garner very similar mixed reviews as the movie. Even online casinos and arcades have made use of the excitement. Betway Casino has Jurassic Park slots among its hundreds of 3- and 5-reel games, and Data East produced a Jurassic Park pinball machine. These small-scale attractions are often antagonized by real ones. – theme parks with not-so-real dinosaurs are especially popular. London’s Jurassic Kingdom brings the creatures to animatronic life to delight and terrorize its young and adult visitors. With so much promotional exposure, it is no wonder that the Jurassic craze is still going strong.

 

Concepts & Ethics

These seemingly inconsequential blockbusters have posed some rather interesting questions. First and foremost, they discuss cloning in terms of morality and prudence. Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm aptly introduces the ‘could’ and ‘should’ dispute. Should the scientists have rushed to bring back a former dominant species just because they could? While the movie’s precise scenario is unlikely to happen in the real world any time soon, considering the success rate on animals has been limited at best, the tangle of principles, benefits and pitfalls has made the practice of cloning a hot topic for debate, particularly in relation to human applications. Another thought-provoking idea presented by the latest instalments is that of the militarization of cloned and spliced dinosaurs. In a way, the movies provide a unique perspective into the laws of nature. And humanity’s place in it.

Science

The allure of mythology and fairy tales pales in comparison to that of paleontology for a significant reason. Dinosaurs actually existed. Steven Spielberg knew what he was doing when he tapped into our dinomania and showed us what a world with these great creatures would really be like, their portrayal loyally keeping to what was then scientifically known about them. Unfortunately, after centuries of heated research dominated by North America and China, our understanding of them is still being developed. The resemblance of their composition, at least, is increasingly confirmed to be closer to birds than reptiles, and with each new discovery our amazement for the monsters that once inhabited the Earth increases. They are an evolutionary mystery we cannot get enough of, stirring our imagination alongside other fictional representations like dragons and Godzilla.

And Love…

Even though the late Lord Richard Attenborough will be missed, it is comforting to know that his and his character’s legacy is far from forgotten. Jurassic Park is not done thrilling its fans, new and established. Gripping our seats as we perch on the edge, smiling and gossiping, will never grow old. Not with this extraordinary saga full of fantastic beasts that were in fact real. Well, relatively speaking.

Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.
Garon CockrellA World of Dinos – Why So Popular?