This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
NB: The following contains spoilers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and previous Jurassic Park movies.
When Jurassic Park broke summer box office records 25 years ago, a question no doubt began to form in the minds of studio executives at Universal: how do we turn this thing into a franchise? It’s a conundrum successive screenwriters and directors have struggled with ever since. 2015’s Jurassic World openly addressed how difficult it was to keep creating bigger and scarier spectacles for audiences who’ve grown numb to the sight of roaring dinosaurs bearing their teeth.
Still, the franchise has shown remarkable buoyancy in spite of its age. The first three movies made well over $5 billion by themselves; Jurassic World, the first in the series following its 14-year hiatus, made $1.6 billion worldwide. And although it’s only been out internationally at the time of writing, the 2018 sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom made $449.4 million internationally.
It’s all a marked change of pace from those quiet years following the release of a Jurassic Park III in 2001–a period in which a revolving door of writers and directors attempted to keep the dinosaurs alive, but with an actual movie, then dubbed Jurassic Park IV, failing to coalesce. One of the most prominent scripts from that fallow period came from veteran screenwriter and filmmaker John Sayles, who’d previously penned such blackly comic monster flicks like Piranha, Alligator, and The Howling.
Sayles‘ Jurassic Park script, largely about dinosaurs being trained as weapons of war, was never filmed, but some of the ideas within it have remained strangely persistent. We wrote about the script’s origins and plot points back when Jurassic World came out three years ago, and how its protagonist (an “unemployed soldier of fortune” named Nick Harris) seemed to provide an early blueprint for Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady. There also appeared to be echoes of the script’s “weaponised dinosaur” concept too in Jurassic World, where Chris Pratt trains velociraptors and a character named Hoskins (a sinister Vincent D’Onofrio) wants to turn them into the equivalent of scaly attack dogs.
More intriguingly though, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also contains elements in common with the Jurassic Park IV script–and it may just hold some clues as to where the franchise will go next.
Like Fallen Kingdom, the Sayles script is divided into two distinct halves. The first takes place on Isla Nublar, once the home of InGen’s revived dinosaurs, while the second takes place partly in a huge gothic building. In the case of Jurassic Park IV, it would’ve been a Swiss castle, where the boss of another cold-hearted corporation called Grendel has a huge secret laboratory tucked away in the basement.
And as directed by J.A. Bayona, Fallen Kingdom has meanwhile riffed more heavily on the Gothic horror possibilities represented by its mansion setting than the Sayles script, perhaps because it’s a subject closer to the director’s own genre tastes. We even noted in our review that he borrows a sequence directly from John Badham’s Dracula for Fallen Kingdom‘s creepiest scene. All the same, it’s fascinating to note how small details that John Sayles placed in his draft over a decade ago have emerged on the screen in Fallen Kingdom.
In the first half, there’s a scene where the hero escapes from Isla Nublar by clinging to a rope ladder dangling from a helicopter; it’s a scene that plays out in a similar fashion at the start of Fallen Kingdom. As Nick Harris is carried over open water in the unproduced script, there’s even a shock moment where a gigantic prehistoric sea creature named a Kronosaurus erupts from the sea and snaps at the ladder. In the 2018 movie, the creature’s a Mosasaurus and not a Kronosaurus, but all the same, the sequence is remarkably close.
In the second half of the script, Nick is shown a dungeon beneath the Swiss castle, where a dinosaur is chained up and repeatedly smashes its armoured tail against the wall. It’s oddly reminiscent of a sequence in the movie where a Pachycephalosaurus is shown bashing its head against the wall of a cell.
These are of course only small details in the context of a much larger story. The greater theme in the Jurassic Park IV script, which seems to be a recurring motif of the new Jurassic World movies, is that of hybrid dinosaurs being used as weapons. Sayles appears to have come up with the concept first, with his script containing a deadly chimera called a Deinonychus–a forerunner, perhaps, of the Indominus Rex in Jurassic World and the Indoraptor in Fallen Kingdom.
Fallen Kingdom takes this theme further, with one of its more memorable sequences being an auction led by Toby Jones’ Gunnar Eversol, where dinosaurs are sold as weapons to unseemly military types from other countries. The notion of rogue arms traders dealing in dinosaurs also seems to have its roots in the Sayles script, with one of its villains being Adrien Joyce, a smoothly amoral chap who’ll sell weapons to anyone if the price is right.
Colin Trevorrow, the filmmaker who’s had a major hand in guiding the Jurassic World franchise so far, is set to return as director for the currently untitled Jurassic World 3. Ever since he co-wrote (with Derek Connolly) and directed the first in this rebooted era, Trevorrow has appeared to have a fairly guiding influence on where the franchise is going. According to a recent interview with Uproxx, Trevorrow is a fair way into taking the series in a direction he’s wanted to see for decades.
“I knew it would take two movies to earn it and to get there,” Trevorrow said. “I did feel it was the right move to have another director do the second film. I think we needed a different visual aesthetic, we needed a different voice.”
If we look at the two movies together, we get a rough idea of the path Trevorrow’s talking about: the gradual move away from the theme park concept dreamed up by the late author Michael Crichton, and towards something even larger in scope.
By Fallen Kingdom‘s end, the dinosaurs are no longer confined to Isla Nublar; they’re either in the wild, as shown in the post-credits sequence where Pterosaurs circle the skies of Las Vegas, or in the hands of the world’s militaries. As the Jurassic World title implies, the franchise has expanded from a park and now envelops the entire planet. So where might Jurassic World 3 go with this idea? Again, the old Jurassic Park IV script may have the answer.
Like the end of Fallen Kingdom, the beginning of the Sayles draft floats the idea of an America plagued by rogue dinosaurs. One Pterosaur causes havoc at a kids’ baseball game; another snatches a half-grilled steak from a back yard barbecue; still another picks up and eats someone’s dog. Later, a newswoman appears on the television to tell us that, “Similar incidents have plagued communities in Central America and Mexico in recent months, leading to the formation of a United Nations task force to exterminate the intrusive Pterosaurs.”
Over in Switzerland, corporate stooge Adrien Joyce spots a business opportunity.
“When the infestation of creatures begins to seriously inconvenience the First World,” Joyce tells our hero, “the United Nations will snap to attention. Previously rejected solutions, as drastic as they may seem, will be reconsidered. Solutions we’ll be able to offer.”
Given everything we’ve seen in Forgotten Kingdom, it isn’t hard to imagine Jurassic World 3 following a similar line: The planet is becoming increasingly overrun by wild dinosaurs, which are now top of the food chain. Meanwhile corporations like InGen are already trying to figure out ways of using dinosaurs as fighting machines; so what better way of stopping the spread of unwanted Pterosaurs than by using other, trained Pterosaurs to reduce their numbers?
Elsewhere, Trevorrow has stated that Jurassic World 3 won’t follow the previous two movies’ habit of introducing hybrid dinosaurs like the Indominus Rex–his next film will, he says, be a “science thriller” like the 1993 original. All the same, the notion of dinosaurs being trained and used as weapons has persisted in two films now, so we’d be somewhat surprised if it didn’t figure in the third entry, which is due out in 2021.
If Trevorrow has a vastly different trajectory in mind for Jurassic World 3, it’s nevertheless striking how many parallels there are between the two films we’ve seen in the rebooted franchise so far and this aging old draft from 2004. Even if nobody involved with the current series has actually read John Sayles’ script directly, it’s at least clear that the producers behind it have long known that Jurassic Park has to keep growing in spectacle to survive.
Only time will tell whether Jurassic World 3 will continue to follow the evolutionary path suggested by Sayles all those years ago, or whether it will mutate in a new and wholly unexpected direction. Whatever happens, the current grosses of Fallen Kingdom prove that life will continue to find away: as long as audiences remain faithful, the dinosaurs will continue to run amok.