Yes, the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg’s 1993 opus to our cultural curiosity, the dangers of science and of course his cinematic need to re-establish both American family and alpha male structures are back in Jurassic World. With a recent opening global weekend opening of over 500 million dollars, Jurassic World not only broke movie industry records, but reminded audiences and stakeholders of the pure power of nostalgia and that, dinosaurs, before superheroes, are deeply part of our cultural psyche. Within a movie going landscape that has been dominated by comic book narratives, Colin Trevorrow’s imagining of an open for business amusement part with live dinosaurs and interactive exhibits, seems to have recaptured the imagination of Spielberg’s ground breaking original film. Within the context of the Spielberg film, Trevorrow’s Jurassic World is embedded within similar gender-political themes, the dangers of corporate greed and importantly the abuse of science. Within all of this critical and academic worthy discourse, Jurassic World is also hugely fun and reminds us as to why Netflix and mobile screening will never replace the magic of the movie theatre and the scope of the large screen. Here are 3 reasons why Jurassic World made over 500 million dollars this weekend:
From early press of the Jurassic World, Universal Studios and executive producer Steven Spielberg understood the need to recapture the original’s sense of awe, wonderment and obsession with dinosaurs. Re-Branding the film Jurassic World (giving a sense of richer scope), and by releasing an early poster reminiscent of the original film, the product became a rare entity that seemed familiar for those (like me) who grew up with the original Jurassic Park and brand new to a younger demographic who have been overstuffed with comic books films that are typically gentrified. With this, the film spoke to all ages and to parents wanting to re-live their first experience of seeing “reel” dinosaurs with their children (some young and older). In watching the movie opening night at one of the Greater Toronto Area’s more popular cinemas, the sold out theatre was composed of kids as young as 7 years old and parents with children in their twenties (and perhaps older). I directly heard one woman tell her daughter that “the original came out the year you were born.” Jurassic World, like the great block buster of the past, spoke to all audiences – dinosaurs transcend gender, race, ethnicity, religion and class.
Pratt and those heels:
Throughout the press for the film and early critical response, much was shared about the fact that Bryce Dallas Howard’s character runs around the park and takes action in high heel shoes. Many critics, failing to appreciate the gender rationale with the inclusion of the shoes and the self-awareness in the narrative, are misaligned with the need for movies to defy gender expectations. Those shoes and her character play a huge reason (granted not as big as Chris Pratt or the dinosaurs) as to the diversity of those who attended weekend screenings. Consequentially, Chris Pratt, is a full fledge movie star. Hollywood and audiences have been looking for versatile characters – and Pratt now proves that his likeability is transformative. From voicing the Lego Movie, to Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy and now Jurassic World, Pratt connects.
Big Screen Formats:
In a culture of mobile technology and portable screens, the big screen is ultimately irreplaceable. There is no substitute for the experience of watching grand movie making in a dark room, surrounded by strangers, eating popcorn, candy and being over taken by picture and sound. Some movies just don’t work on the iPhone. Jurassic Park, Titanic, Star Wars, Gravity and many other epics, do not play well on a tablet and need to be experienced – fully experienced. With the inclusion of IMAX large format screens (which contributed heavily to this weekend’s box-office) to AVX and other specialized experiences, Jurassic World proves that when a filmmaker marries visual technique with an understanding of theatrical experience, the outcome is completely rewarding.
In the end, three movies made me want to spend a pool of money on post-secondary studies in film production and academia. Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), made me fall in love with the movies. With the nostalgia at the core, I can’t wait to see Jurassic World again. This time, in IMAX 3D.