Dinosaur (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ralph Zondag
Eric Leighton
Produced by Pam Marsden
Screenplay by John Harrison
Robert Nelson Jacobs
Story by John Harrison
Robert Nelson Jacobs
Thom Enriquez
Ralph Zondag
Starring D. B. Sweeney
Ossie Davis
Alfre Woodard
Max Casella
Hayden Panettiere
Samuel E. Wright
Peter Siragusa
Julianna Margulies
Joan Plowright
Della Reese
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography David Hardberger
S. Douglas Smith
Edited by H. Lee Peterson
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • May 19, 2000 (2000-05-19)
Running time 82 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $127.5 million[1]
Box office $349.8 million[1]

Dinosaur is a 2000 American live-action/computer-animated adventure-drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation with The Secret Lab, and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 39th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series,[2] though it is not officially labeled as one of the animated classics in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] Originally a stand-alone film, it was not included in the canon until 2008.[3] At officially $127.5 million, it was the most expensive theatrical film release of the year.[1] The film was a financial success, grossing over $349 million worldwide in total box office revenue, becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of 2000. The film received mixed to positive reviews at the time of its release, with critics praising the visuals, but criticizing the writing, plot and characterization.

While the main characters in Dinosaur are computer-animated, most of the film's backgrounds were filmed on location. A number of backgrounds were found in Canaima National Park in Venezuela; various tepuis and Angel Falls also appear in the film.


The film opens with an Iguanodon mother abandoning her nest, leaving one egg survived from a Carnotaurus attack. The egg eventually ends up in an island inhabited by Smilodectes, who see the egg hatch, name the baby dinosaur Aladar and raise him as their own. When Aladar grows up, the island is destroyed by the asteroid that crashes on Earth and causes a violent meteor shower, with only him, his grandfather Yar, his mother Plio, his best friend Zini and his sister Suri fleeing and swimming to the mainland.

After fleeing a pack of Velociraptor, the family meets a multi-species herd of dinosaurs such as Iguanodons, Styracosaurus, Pachyrhinosaurus, Stygimoloch, Microceratus, Parasaurolophus and Struthiomimus led by Kron and his lieutenant Bruton the Altirhinus, who are on a journey to reach the "Nesting Grounds", a valley believed to be untouched by the devastation of the meteor impact. Aladar and the lemurs befriend a trio of elderly dinosaurs: Baylene the Brachiosaurus, Eema the Styracosaurus and Url, Eema's dog-like pet Ankylosaurus. He also meets and falls in love with Kron's sister Neera who feels uninterested. Meanwhile, the Velociraptor pack follows them, but are scared off by a pair of Carnotaurus that picks up the herd's trail.

The herd arrives at a lake they have relied on for past trips, but it has dried up, due to the early meteor shower. Aladar saves the herd from dehydration when he and Baylene eventually dig up the trapped water beneath the ground, though Kron claims the water for himself. Neera believes in Aladar for helping the herd survive. Bruton who has been sent by Kron to check the perimeter, returns injured by the Carnotaurus which killed another Iguanodon that scouts with him. Kron evacuates the herd from the lake bed in a rush before taking Neera, leaving Aladar, the lemurs, the elderly dinosaurs and the injured Bruton behind. When Aladar tries to slow the herd, Kron pushes him away and warns Aladar that he will be killed if he interferes with his leadership again.

The small group takes Bruton and recuperates in a cave during a rainstorm. When the Carnotaurus pair attacks, Bruton proving his loyalty holds them off to ensure their escape and kills one of them as the others escape to the depths of the caves, dying in the process. Badly injured, the other Carnotaurus escapes, enraged by the death of its mate but unable to follow the group. Upon reaching a dead end, Aladar begins to lose hope, after repeated failures and Bruton's death. However, Zini smells fresh air and finds the dead end to actually be a blocked exit that is hard to break down. His friends all join in breaking down the barrier, stabilizing his confidence and Baylene breaks the wall for the exit that leads to the "Nesting Grounds". Eema sees that the old entrance blocked by a landslide generated by the meteors, where the herd has gathered on the other side.

Knowing that the herd will die climbing over the sheer drop, Aladar rushes back to the desert and gets being alerted and tracked by the Carnotaurus. He then prevents Kron and the herd from climbing over the rocks, which can result to fatality. When Aladar suggests the alternate route he found, the enraged Kron challenges and tries to kill Aladar, but Neera feds up of her brother's illogical beliefs, strikes him down and defends Aladar to end Kron's leadership. Aladar and Neera take control of the herd, leaving Kron to climb the rocks all by himself. As the Carnotaurus arrive to confront them, Aladar rallies the herd to stand together, making it overpowered and letting the herd pass but it spots Kron climbing the rocks alone and charges him as easy prey. In the ensuing fight, Kron is trapped at the edge of a precipice and severely wounded by the Carnotaurus, before Aladar pushes the predator off the cliff to its death. Kron then lethally succumbs to his injuries, before Aladar and Neera reconciles.

Aladar and Neera lead the herd back to the "Nesting Grounds" through the cave, where the two eventually mate and have children and the lemurs find more of their own kind. Plio narrates the ending of their history by saying, "But one thing is for sure. Our journey is not over, we can only hope in some small way our time here will be remembered".

Cast and characters[edit]

  • D. B. Sweeney as Aladar, a brave and compassionate Iguanodon who is adopted into a family of lemurs and makes sure that the old and weak can survive during the herd's migration. He is the adoptive son of Plio, the adoptive grandson of Yar, the adoptive brother of Suri and the adoptive nephew of Zini.
  • Ossie Davis as Yar, a lemur patriarch whose occasional gruff demeanor is just a front covering his more compassionate interior. He is the father of Plio and Zini, the grandfather of Suri, and the adoptive grandfather of Aladar.
  • Alfre Woodard as Plio, a lemur matriarch who cares for her family. She's the daughter of Yar, the mother of Suri, the older sister of Zini and the adoptive mother of Aladar.
  • Max Casella as Zini, Aladar's best friend and wisecracking sidekick. He is also the adoptive uncle of Aladar, the uncle of Suri, the younger brother of Plio and the son of Yar.
  • Hayden Panettiere as Suri, Aladar's adoptive sister, Plio's daughter, Zini's niece and Yar's granddaughter.
  • Samuel E. Wright as Kron, a selfish Iguanodon who is characterized by a strict adherence to social Darwinism and leader of the dinosaur herd survivors. He believes in survival of the fittest, which repeatedly clashes with Aladar's compassionate manner.
  • Peter Siragusa as Bruton, Kron's domineering second-in-command Iguanodon who is betrayed and left injured by Kron, and ultimately gives his life to kill one of the Carnotaurus to save Aladar, the lemurs and the weaker dinosaurs.
  • Julianna Margulies as Neera, Kron's sister and Aladar's love interest with compassionate ways.
  • Joan Plowright as Baylene, an elderly and dainty Brachiosaurus, who is the last of her species.
  • Della Reese as Eema, a wizened, elderly and slow-moving Styracosaurus who has a pet Ankylosaurus named Url.
  • Frank Welker as the dinosaurs who do not speak including, the Carnotaurus, the Velociraptor, Url and other dinosaurs.


While a dinosaur-related computer-animated film had been contemplated for over a decade, the film finally went into production when it did, as "the technology to produce the stunning visual effects" had come about - a few years before Dinosaur's eventual release in 2000. The CGI effects are coupled with "real-world backdrops to create a 'photo-realistic' look". The crew went all around the world, in order to "record dramatic nature backgrounds" for the film, which were then "blended with the computer-animated dinosaurs". Disney said that the over-$100 million visual effects "make the film an 'instant classic'".[4]

The concept for the film was originally conceived by Paul Verhoeven and Phil Tippett in 1988 and was pitched as a stop-motion animated film with the title Dinosaurs. The film's original main protagonist was a Styracosaurus and the main antagonist was originally a Tyrannosaurus rex. The film was originally going to be much darker and violent in tone and would end with the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which would ultimately result in the deaths of the film's characters. Paul Verhoeven and Phil Tippett pitched the idea to Disney, only to have the idea for the film shelved away with the onset of the Disney Renaissance until the mid-1990s. The film was originally supposed to have no dialogue at all, in part to differentiate the film from The Land Before Time with which Dinosaur shares plot similarities. Michael Eisner insisted that the film have dialogue in order to make it more "commercially viable". A similar change was also made early in the production of The Land Before Time, which was originally intended to feature only the voice of a narrator.[citation needed]

The film's score was composed by James Newton Howard. Pop singer/songwriter Kate Bush reportedly wrote and recorded a song for the film but due to complications the track was ultimately not included on the soundtrack.[citation needed] According to HomeGround, a Kate Bush fanzine, it was scrapped when Disney asked Bush to rewrite the song and Bush refused; however, according to Disney, the song was cut from the film when preview audiences did not respond well to the track. In Asia, pop singer Jacky Cheung's song Something Only Love Can Do, with versions sung in English, Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese, was adopted as the theme song for the film.

The Countdown to Extinction attraction at the Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park was renamed and re-themed to the film. It is now known as DINOSAUR. The storyline was always intended to tie in with the movie, considering the usage of a Carnotaurus as the ride's antagonist and Aladar as the Iguanodon that guests rescue from the meteor and take back into the present, seen wandering the Dino Institute in Security Camera footage seen on monitors in the attraction's unloading area.

George Scribner was the original director of the film. Scribner spent two years on it and left to join Walt Disney Imagineering. But fundamentally, the story was pretty much the same after he left.

Though Eric Leighton, one of the directors, spoke about his team "want[ing] to learn as much about dinosaurs as possible", he also admitted that they would "cheat like hell" because they were not creating a documentary. A Disney press kit revealed that the film "intentionally veers from scientific fact in certain aspects". In reality, the film cheated in multiple ways in regard to: how the "dinosaurs are depicted" and how they "are presented in an evolutionary context".[4]

Dinosaur combines the use of live-action backgrounds with computer animation of prehistoric creatures, notably the titular dinosaurs, produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation's Computer Graphics Unit that was later merged with Dream Quest Images to create Disney's The Secret Lab department.[5] The Secret Lab department closed in 2002.

Vision Crew Unlimited provided the live-action special visual effects.


Following in the footsteps of The Lion King, Disney advertised the film by "releasing the opening scene as a trailer". The EmpireOnline project Your Guide To Disney's 50 Animated Features described this as a "smart move" because "taken by itself, the prelude to Dinosaur is an extraordinary achievement (still impressive now), showing a verdant and vibrant world teeming with darn convincing dinosaurs".[6]


Dinosaur: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by James Newton Howard
Released May 5, 2000 (2000-05-05)
Length 49:39
Label Walt Disney Records
Walt Disney Animation Studios chronology
Fantasia 2000
The Emperor's New Groove

The soundtrack album was composed by James Newton Howard, and was released by Walt Disney Records.

  1. Inner Sanctum/The Nesting Grounds (2:57)
  2. The Egg Travels (2:43)
  3. Aladar & Neera (3:29)
  4. The Courtship (4:13)
  5. The End Of Our Island (4:00)
  6. They're All Gone (2:08)
  7. Raptors/Stand Together (5:37)
  8. Across The Desert (2:25)
  9. Finding Water (4:14)
  10. The Cave (3:40)
  11. The Carnotaur Attack (3:52)
  12. Neera Rescues The Orphans (1:13)
  13. Breakout (2:43)
  14. It Comes With A Pool (3:01)
  15. Kron & Aladar Fight (2:58)
  16. Epilogue (2:32)

The German release has as track 2 the song "Can Somebody Tell Me Who I Am" (4:14), performed by Orange Blue while the UK/Ireland release has as track 1 the song "High Hopes (8:32), performed by Pink Floyd; all the score tracks included above are on both German and UK/Ireland releases.


Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 65% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 122 reviews (79 "Fresh" and 43 "Rotten"); with an average score of 6.2/10. The consensus on the site was: "While Dinosaur's plot is generic and dull, its stunning computer animation and detailed backgrounds are enough to make it worth a look."[7] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four praising the film's "amazing visuals" but criticizing the decision to make the animals talk, which he felt cancelled out the effort to make the film so realistic. "An enormous effort had been spent on making these dinosaurs seem real, and then an even greater effort was spent on undermining the illusion" was his final consensus. The overall rating of Dinosaur on Metacritic from critics is 56%, with 15 critics giving positive reviews, 12 giving mixed reviews, and 5 giving negative reviews.[8]

The lemurs depicted in the movie strongly resemble the sub-species Verreaux's sifaka. Biologists[who?] have raised concerns that the movie is misleading and could potentially confuse people, as it suggests lemurs (in their present evolved state) co-existed with dinosaurs over 66 million years ago. All modern strepsirrhines including lemurs are traditionally thought to have evolved from 'primitive' primates known as adapiforms during the Eocene (56 to 34 mya) or Paleocene (66 to 56 mya).[9][10][11]

In an analysis of the film, done as part of EmpireOnline's Your Guide To Disney's 50 Animated Features, on the opening sequence it said "much of the scenery is skilfully-composited live-action, including shots of the tepui mountains that would captivate Up's Carl Fredricksen". However, it spoke negatively about the unrealistic talking dinosaurs after the opening, describing it as a "nose-dive". It said they "sound[ed] more like mallrats than terrible lizards" and that although no-one knows what dinosaurs sound like, they definitely don't sound like that. It also disliked how the meteor hit Earth in Act 1, making the majority of the film set "in gray gravel-pits rather than the lush landscapes we were sold". It said "the animals [are] cute enough, but the script, characters and dino-action are all plodding kiddie fare", but added these faults are made up through "James Newton Howard's majestic score". It cited similarities to the 1988 dinosaur-themed Don Bluth film The Land Before Time, and the more successful prehistoric Blue Sky Studios film Ice Age (which it described as "sassier"), and added that the "images of desperately migrating dinosaurs hark back to the far greater Fantasia". The film was also deemed "inferior" to the work of Pixar.[6]

Box office[edit]

Dinosaur was a box-office success. It opened at #1 making $38,854,851 in its first weekend from 3,257 theaters, for an average of $11,929 per theater. It had a final gross of $137,748,063 in North America which covered its production costs. The film was eventually accepted overseas earning $212,074,702 for a worldwide take of $349,822,765.[1] The official teaser trailer to this movie accompanied 102 Dalmatians and the trailer of The Emperor's New Groove.

Home media[edit]

Dinosaur was released on DVD & VHS on January 30, 2001. It was also released on 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD that same day, with lots of special features. It was re-released on VHS in 2002. It released on high definition Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on September 19, 2006, becoming the first animated film to be released on the format. It was re-released on Blu-ray on February 8, 2011.

Other media[edit]

Disney Interactive released a tie-in video game on the Dreamcast, PlayStation, PC and Game Boy Color in 2000. To promote the release of Dinosaur, the Disney theme park ride "Countdown to Extinction" was renamed "DINOSAUR", and its plot, which had always prominently featured a Carnotaurus and an Iguanadon, was mildly altered so that the Iguanadon is specifically meant to be Aladar, the protagonist of the movie, and the plot of the ride is now about a human scientist travelling through time to a point just before the impact of the meteor which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, to bring Aladar back to the present and save his life.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Dinosaur (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
  2. ^ "Disney's Official Animated Features list". Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  3. ^ Disney Theatrical Animated Features
  4. ^ a b "Movie Review: Disney's Dinosaur—Deadly Drama and Dabs of Darwinism!". May 20, 2000. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Disney Forms The Secret Lab". 1999-10-29. 
  6. ^ a b "Your Guide To Disney's 50 Animated Features: Dinosaur (2000)". EmpireOnline. 2011. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Dinosaur (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
  8. ^ Metacritic
  9. ^ Kay, R. F.; Ross, C.; Williams, B. A. (1997). "Anthropoid Origins". Science 275 (5301): 797–804. doi:10.1126/science.275.5301.797. PMID 9012340. 
  10. ^ Gould, L.; Sauther, M.L., eds. (2006). Lemurs: Ecology and Adaptation. Springer. pp. vii–xiii. ISBN 978-0-387-34585-7. 
  11. ^ Sussman, R.W. (2003). Primate Ecology and Social Structure. Pearson Custom Publishing. pp. 149–229. ISBN 978-0-536-74363-3. 

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