Will Steven Spielberg return to the franchise to direct 'Jurassic Park 4'?
If Universal wants the series to be an event again, the choice seems clear
I've heard some exciting things about the "Jurassic Park 3D" release that's coming in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to taking both Toshi and Allen to see the film on an IMAX screen in 3D. They're excited, and they've been talking about it since the release was first announced.
As we covered in Film Nerd 2.0, they saw the film on Blu-ray, and while it was definitely a formatively scary experience for them both, it's one that we had as a family, and at home, and they enjoyed it. They've seen the film many times since then, and they love the dinosaurs now. They love the scary scenes. They know most of them beat for beat.
Seeing the first "Jurassic Park" in the theater in 1993 was a huge cultural moment, and I really studied the way the screenings worked as I went back over and over. The T-rex attack in the middle of the film played like virtual reality. When it started, some tiny little part of the ancient animal brain inside each of us remembered that stark, existential fear that comes from being prey. Right now, we are not used to, as a species, being hunted and eaten. It is uncommon for us. We are the top of the food chain, a hard won placement that we've maintained for a long time now.
But in "Jurassic Park," Spielberg put the audience in a position in that theater where they felt like they were being hunted by something gigantic that sees you as nothing more than food. Something real. The triumph of "Jurassic Park" is not that the special effects in it are good; it is that Spielberg only used the special effects in service of something actually special. He created a primal moment the likes of which I've almost never seen in terms of physical, palpable audience response.
Right now, Universal Pictures is very close to starting production on "Jurassic Park 4." They have their offices open, they have their fake cover title they're using, and they are hiring people and casting. It's happening. There will absolutely be a "Jurassic Park 4," as they announced, and it's underway.
This raises a question, and we'd like to ponder one answer: is it possible that Steven Spielberg is going to announce that he is returning to the series to direct "Jurassic Park 4" after Universal opens the 1993 film in theaters? Once people see that amazing sequence again in a theater, where it is meant to be experienced, and they feel that same animal panic kick in, wouldn't the most exciting possible news about the series be the return of one of the greatest commercial filmmakers of all time to one of his biggest triumphs?
Crew who are meeting on the film aren't being told who is directing, and it really does force us to question why there's such a veil of secrecy. If they were going to announce somebody new to the series, someone who has made some money for them on something else or someone up-and-coming, wouldn't they just announce it already? Let's say they're really happy with "Oblivion," and it's Joseph Kosinski they want, would it make sense to hold that news? Wouldn't you announce it before "Oblvion" opens as a way of driving people to see it?
I certainly don't have to see Spielberg do it again. I like things about Joe Johnston's "Jurassic Park III," and I'd like to see what lots of different people could do with the basic building blocks of dinosaurs, the islands, and people being eaten. After a recent viewing of "V/H/S/2," a friend of mine made a very persuasive argument that Gareth Evans would be an excellent choice for a "Jurassic Park" film, and I see exactly why he'd think so. But if Universal and Amblin' really wanted to make the series special again, there are very few people who would generate a huge reaction just by announcing their involvement. Spielberg did push back the production of "Robopocalypse" until next year, and he's certainly proven that he can work fast on a "Jurassic Park" film. The original was, all things considered, a brisk shoot and a relatively low budget. He doesn't have to break the bank to get it right because he's Steven Freakin' Spielberg. When he is on his game, he is still the single best orchestrator of set pieces to work in film and I don't mean that as faint praise. There are things he's done, images and scenes and sequences and emotions, that are woven into the very DNA of my love of movies.
If he did turn out to be the guy directing "Jurassic Park 4," that would get me 100% excited to see what it would be.
"Jurassic Park 3D" arrives in theaters April 5, 2013.
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