Who likes dinosaurs? All of you? That’s what I thought. That’s why Jurassic Park was successful. End of article.
Just kidding. But really, dinosaurs are awesome.
Reel Hit: Jurassic Park
Instead of telling you at the end of the article, this time I’m gonna tell it to you straight. I liked this movie. I saw it as a kid, I watched it again as a teenager, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again. Unfortunately I did not see this movie in theaters, as I was too young to even understand what a movie even was. Despite this, I can understand why it became a hit, and I believe it deserved every penny it earned.
Jurassic Park was released on June 11, 1993. This means, obviously, that it was a summer movie.When a movie is released in the summer, it is made to attract a different kind of crowd. People aren’t looking for drama and deep story (though some summer movies have it). Instead, people are looking for the coolest action movie or the funniest comedy. Nowadays summer movies also mean lots of special effects, but in 1993, CGI had not yet caught on. In Jurassic Park’s case, the attention grabber was dinosaurs.
As you probably know, Jurassic Park is based off of the book by the same name by Michael Crichton. Before the book was even published, many studios were knocking on Crichton’s door for rights to make a movie. Eventually Universal Pictures won the bidding and the rest is history. After hearing of the premise, Steven Spielberg hopped on board, which only increased the hype for the movie. To increase hype even further, Steven Spielberg stated during pre-release that people would see real dinosaurs in this film, not cheap mock-ups. With big names to back it up and a Hollywood budget, Jurassic Park looked like a probable success. But it isn’t hype and big names that keeps audiences coming.
When I watch a movie, I tend to listen to the score more often than my friends or family. Maybe it’s because I was in band in high school, but if the music is good, I usually like the movie. This movie was lucky enough to be graced by the legendary John Williams, and the theme, along with many of the other themes he has composed, is instantly recognizable. The music seemed to reciprocate the feelings of the audience by joining them in their moment of awe and wonder. The movie itself was astounded by the things happening in it. This feeling propelled the movie to new heights, in my opinion, and made the entire experience more entertaining.
Now I’ve mentioned the music and the source material, but what about the real calling card of the movie. Steven Spielberg promised audiences dinosaurs, and if he didn’t deliver, the movie was definitely doomed. Luckily, for audiences and Spielberg, there were in fact dinosaurs. Before Jurassic Park, all movies were done almost entirely with stop-motion animation. None of the movie industry, ironically enough, saw CGI as a viable form of entertainment. Deciding to bypass industry prejudices, Spielberg not only used CGI, but he made the entire movie industry want to use CGI as well.
Now this leads us to the main reason why the movie kept attracting audiences through the entire summer. Imagine for a moment you are in 1993. The greatest special effects you had seen were in Star Wars. Which were good for the time, but they still didn’t feel completely realistic. You walk into a movie after being told you are going to see dinosaurs and you know little else about the movie. The movie starts off and there seems to be nothing that special so far. Then, all of a sudden, there it is. Abrachiosaur is standing right in front of you, and your life, and the way you watch movies, is forever changed. After you walk out of the movie, you immediately tell your friends “I just saw real dinosaurs in a movie.” Intrigued by this strange statement, your friends go to see the movie and have the same experience. Jurassic Park is one of those films that change the game. It doesn’t matter if the acting,script, or plot is stellar. All that matters are the dinosaurs walking across the screen! Luckily the acting and script held up nicely, making the movie an enjoyable experience now too.
Overall, there’s not much more to say beyond that Jurassic Park was a game changer. The reason it was a success was because of the complete sense of awe and wonder it brought to the audience. Trying something new, especially in an industry like the movie industry, is a very risky proposition. Sometimes the change is too small and goes by unnoticed; other times the change is too big and the whole movie is a flop. But sometimes, every so often, there is a movie which changes something in just the right way, at just the right time in history, so that it attracts audiences and promotes change across the entire industry.