30 Years Later, Jurassic Park Stands Tall

There are quite a few films or properties hitting big birthdays in 2023: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi hit the big 40 in May, as did the (now 15-year-old) Marvel Cinematic Universe. Towards the end of the year, the BBC’s Doctor Who will be 60, and is celebrating with a series of anniversary specials that brings back one of its most popular incarnations.

Another big film joining those ranks is Universal’s Jurassic Park. The sci-fi horror film from Steven Spielberg first released on June 11, 1993, and based on the titular novel by Michael Crichton. Even before the novel was published three years prior, studios were already bidding for its film rights, with Spielberg and Universal teaming to grab it for $1.5 million. With Crichton on hand to handle the screenplay with David Koepp, the adaptation made changes to the various characters while also reducing the exposition and violence that made the book a bestseller and arguably the work that would define Crichton’s career until his passing in 2008.

It wouldn’t be wrong to call Jurassic Park a blockbuster back in the day, since it grossed $914 million worldwide in its 1993 theatrical run. (Thanks to re-releases, that number has since risen to $1.046 billion.) With a massive $65 million marketing campaign that involved over 100 companies back then, it was virtually impossible to not know of the movie’s existence, and for a certain generation, it’s a definitive film in more ways than one. People know Jurassic Park like they know the back of their hand—even if they’ve never actually seen the film or remember it all that well, there’s parts of it that have stuck in their minds. Not unlike The Matrix, this was one of those films whose impact permeates nearly every piece of genre media in some form or fashion. Maybe it’s the special effects to bring the dinosaurs to life, maybe it’s a particular line…or maybe it’s just that one picture of Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm.

Image for article titled 30 Years Later, Jurassic Park Stands Tall

Image: Universal Pictures

But the other reason that first Jurassic Park movie has become even more beloved over the years is that its follow-ups have largely been…let’s just say not as good as that original film. (You could even go so far as to that it, much like the recently 39-year-old Ghostbusters, shouldn’t have been a franchise.) While it’s always fun to watch dinosaurs just attack a human when they least expect it, the sequels have largely felt like they were retreading the same ground, but often without the same charm. The Jurassic World trilogy is especially guilty of this, even though it admirably makes some swings to take the series in a new direction and get a little weirder with its sci-fi elements. But when those movies are dumb, they are dumb, and 2022’s Jurassic World: Dominion felt like the series had exhausted itself in several different ways.

Outside of the films, the franchise overall is quite popular, and one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time. There’ve been some good games based on the movies, with one of the most recent being 2021’s Jurassic World Evolution 2 from Frontier Developments. Back in 2020, it finally made the jump to TV with the Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous series for Netflix, whose six-season run ended back in November of last year. With how conclusive an end Dominion seemed to give the franchise, it may be that Universal will finally let the dinosaurs rest as it moves on to other properties with long term potential. That, or we’ve got another three to five years before we hear about another reboot.

Let us know in the comments below what you think of the original Jurassic Park movie, and your larger thoughts on the franchise.

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