In 2001, Jurassic Park III was unleashed in cinemas. The film – the third entry in the ‘Jurassic’ movie series, following Jurassic Park (1993) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) – was an action-adventure story, which starred Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, and Laura Dern.
The movie focused on a divorced couple who trick paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant into accompanying them on a journey to Isla Sorna – InGen’s ‘Site B’ island filled with dinosaurs. The couple want Dr. Grant’s help in locating their missing son, who they believe is stranded on the island, however, they choose not to inform him of their quest.
Upon arrival, the truth comes out and Dr. Grant is less than happy about the situation. But before he can do anything about it, he finds himself and his companions attacked by dinosaurs and fighting for survival.
Big, loud, and filled to the brim with dino-action, Jurassic Park III is an enjoyable romp that is a heck of a lot of fun. But what do you know about Jurassic Park III? And more importantly, could your knowledge be a little better?
Well, don’t worry – in this post I am serving up a whole bunch of facts about Jurassic Park III. If this is the ‘Jurassic’ movie you’ve previously overlooked, now is the perfect opportunity to learn a little more about this ‘00s gem.
Calling the shots
Unlike its predecessors, Jurassic Park III was not directed by Steven Spielberg. Jumanji’s Joe Johnston took on directing duties for this third instalment, with Spielberg side-stepping into an executive producer role instead.
Johnston had previously expressed interest in directing a ‘Jurassic’ movie following the release of Jurassic Park. However, he had to wait until Spielberg had completed work on The Lost World before he was given the opportunity to take over the franchise for Part Three.
Jurassic Park III was the first ‘Jurassic’ movie not to be based on a book by acclaimed author, Michael Crichton. The film does incorporate scenes, characters, and ideas from Crichton’s original Jurassic Park novel, but a great deal of the movie is original.
What’s in a name?
Before Jurassic Park III received its title, other names were suggested for the film, including Jurassic Park: Extinction and Jurassic Park: Breakout. Ultimately, filmmakers felt that Jurassic Park III was a better fit for the film, as this was the third entry in the Jurassic Park movie series, so why not call it what it is?
When coming up with the story for Jurassic Park III, one early idea was for Dr. Alan Grant to be living on the island of Isla Sorna when the film begins. Dr. Grant would have snuck onto the island prior to the events of the film, and would have lived off the land until he was discovered.
Although this idea was ultimately scrapped, the concept of a character living on Isla Sorna was incorporated into the finished film. In the movie, Eric Kirby becomes marooned on the island, following a dinosaur attack while parasailing, and he has to live off the land until he is rescued by Dr. Grant and Co.
Despite being a coherent film, Jurassic Park III had a bumpy development, with the film’s script undergoing numerous drafts before the project went into production. As a result, the film started shooting without a completed script and had a somewhat troubled shoot.
Although the opening act for Jurassic Park III was finished when cameras started rolling, the mid-section was not fully written and there was no ending. Some scenes changed from day-to-day during filming, and a final draft of the script was never completed during the course of production.
The script problems proved to be a source of frustration for some of the actors, who had to make the best of the situation and carry on regardless. Issues with the script also caused Joe Dante to consider quitting the project, although he ultimately stuck with the film.
Although the script for Jurassic Park III underwent several re-writes, the character of Dr. Alan Grant was always part of the story. Steven Spielberg was keen for the character to return to the film series in some form, following his absence in The Lost World, it was just a case of finding the best way to include him in the movie.
Macy jumps on board
Sam Neill signed on to the project in June 2000, to reprise the role of Dr. Alan Grant, with other cast members following shortly after. William H. Macy, who played the role of Paul Kirby was next, although he initially turned down the project due to scheduling conflicts.
Ellie to the rescue
As well as the return of Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, Jurassic Park III saw the brief return of Laura Dern in the role of Ellie Sattler – a part she had previously played in 1993’s Jurassic Park. Dern was initially reluctant to return to the franchise, because her role was set to be a small cameo, but she changed her mind when her role was expanded, to make Sattler a vital part of the film’s dramatic conclusion.
There’s a new dino in town
When deciding what dinosaurs to include in Jurassic Park III, there was a general desire from the writers and director to include new creatures, to give the audience something different to what they had seen before. One of these new dinos would ultimately be the Spinosaurus – a dinosaur introduced as a rival to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
It was paleontologist Jack Horner who convinced the production team to include the Spinosaurus in the movie. Horner had previously worked as a technical advisor on Jurassic Park and The Lost World (a role he reprised for JPIII) and his input proved to be highly influential.
In keeping with the previous movies, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park III were brought to life via a mix of computer-generated images and practical animatronic effects. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) were responsible for the CGI creations used in the film, while the late Stan Winston and his effects team were responsible for the animatronic creatures.
Location, location, location
Jurassic Park III was filmed in multiple locations across Hawaii and California, with some scenes shot on the Universal Studios’ backlot in Los Angeles. Many of the jungle scenes were filmed at Universal’s Stage 12, rather than on location.
Of all the ‘Jurassic’ films to date, Jurassic Park III is the shortest entry in the series, clocking in at just 92-minutes. The film’s short length is in part due to script issues, as well as the desire to create a more streamlined adventure story for this third instalment.
Don Davis composed the score for Jurassic Park III, taking over from John Williams who worked on the two previous films. During his career, Davis has composed music for films including Bound (1996), The Matrix (1999), and Behind Enemy Lines (2001).
Despite Williams being unable to return for Jurassic Park III (he was too busy scoring Spielberg’s 2001 sci-fi movie, A. I. Artificial Intelligence), a number of his themes are incorporated into Davis’ soundtrack. It was Williams who recommended Davis for the project.
To accompany the theatrical release of Jurassic Park III, Universal Pictures agreed a number of product tie-ins including multiple computer games, a collection of books, and cross-promotional deals with Coca-Cola and Kodak.
And finally, although Jurassic Park III has a strong and loyal fan base these days, with many calling JPIII a true favourite amongst the series, the initial critical reception was mixed. Many leading film critics of 2001 were not that impressed with the movie, and felt it was not a patch on its predecessors.
Yet despite opening to mixed reviews from critics, Jurassic Park III was a hit at the box-office, taking $368.8 million from a budget of $93 million. Critics may not have been huge fans of the film, but audiences liked it regardless.
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this post about Jurassic Park III – I hope it has expanded your knowledge about this movie. For more posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.