After a 14 year hiatus, the world of Jurassic Park returns to theaters this weekend with Jurassic World, the fourth installment in what is undoubtedly the greatest dinosaur-cloning franchise in Hollywood history. You wonâ€™t need to know the original trilogy to enjoy Jurassic World. But if you havenâ€™t yet experienced all three movies, youâ€™re missing out. Though the quality wanes from the highs of Jurassic Park to The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, the entire series is a visual feast that pushed filmmaking forward with revolutionary computer-generated imagery and astonishing practical effects. Here are some facts about Jurassic Park
1. Jurassic Park novelist Michael Crichtonâ€™s original idea for the book told the story of grad student who cloned a dinosaur from 65-million-year-old DNA. He abandoned it after deciding it was too fantastical. As time passed and science progressed, Crichton thought his idea sounded more plausible, and he returned to the project. He replaced the grad student with an amusement park honcho because he needed a way to explain why someone would pump millions into the research. Still, he was never quite satisfied with that solution.
2. Director Steven Spielberg learned about Crichtonâ€™s idea before the 1990 book was finished and won the film rights before it was even published. He began storyboarding from the novel, even before the screenplay was written.
3. Paleontologist Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies served as the technical advisor for Jurassic Park, and would serve in the same role for all subsequent sequels. Among his contributions: pushing the production toward a more bird-like portrayal of dinosaurs, which included nixing early plans to have the raptors shoot their tongues out like lizards.
4. Spielberg originally planned to use stop-motion photography for the dinosaur shots that didnâ€™t feature puppets or animatronics. As production neared, he began considering CGI and had the team at Industrial Light & Magic prepare a sample of what they could do. He was so impressed that he decided to use it instead of stop motion. The CG work in Jurassic Park â€œchanged the world,â€ Spielberg says.
5. After visual-effects artist Phil Tippet, who was in line to do the stop motion for the film, saw what CGI was capable of, he told Spielberg, â€œI think Iâ€™m extinct.â€ Spielberg says that inspired a similar line spoken in the movie by mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).
6. That didnâ€™t mean stop-motion animators werenâ€™t important during production: They worked with the computer animators to create realistic-looking dinosaur movements. To pull this off, a Dinosaur Input Device was built. The small machine â€” which looked like a crude, mechanical dinosaur and was manipulated by stop-motion animators â€” was rigged with sensors that translated its every movement into computer animation.
7. To further help them develop the dinosaur movements, animators took mime classes, pranced around the Universal lot pretending to be Gallimimus, and studied the movements of lizards, giraffes and rhinos, among other modern animals.
8. Nicolas Cage played a pivotal role in Laura Dernâ€™s decision to be in the movie. (She plays paleontologist Dr. Ellie Sattler.) In 2013, she recalled that she had just made the David Lynch movie Wild at Heart with Cage when the offer for Jurassic Park came. She was skeptical, but he insisted that she do it because, â€œno one can ever say no to a dinosaur movie!â€
9. Spielberg initially wanted the Tyrannosaurus rex to be a lightweight, Bunraku-style puppet. Once that proved impractical, the effects teams considered building it with electric motors inside, but soon realized those couldnâ€™t allow the dinosaur to move fast enough. Finally, the team settled on hydraulics.
10. Special effects guru Stan Winstonâ€™s studio built two massive T. rex models for the movie. One was a full-bodied, 9-ton, animatronic beast that could move as fast as 90 inches per second. The other was built from only the waist up and had a smaller range of motion, but a more detailed face for close ups.
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