Jurassic Park III
|Jurassic Park III|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joe Johnston|
|Based on||Characters created|
by Michael Crichton
|Music by||Don Davis|
|Edited by||Robert Dalva|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$368.8 million|
Jurassic Park III is a 2001 American science fiction adventure film and the third installment in the Jurassic Park film series, following The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). The film stars Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, and Michael Jeter. It was written by Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, and was directed by Joe Johnston. It is the first film in the franchise to not be directed by Steven Spielberg, who served as executive producer instead. It is also the franchise's first film to not be based on a novel by Michael Crichton, although the film includes characters and ideas by him, including scenes from his first novel Jurassic Park (1990).
Like its predecessor, the film takes place on Isla Sorna, a fictional island of cloned dinosaurs located off Central America's Pacific coast. The film involves a divorced couple (portrayed by Macy and Leoni) who trick paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) into helping them find their son (Morgan), who is missing on the island. Neill reprised the role from the first film, Jurassic Park (1993).
After the release of Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Joe Johnston expressed interest in directing a sequel. Although Spielberg would return to direct the first sequel, he gave Johnston permission to direct a possible third film. Universal Pictures announced a third film in June 1998, with a release scheduled for mid-2000. Craig Rosenberg wrote the first draft of the script, about teenagers becoming marooned on Isla Sorna. Johnston was announced as director in 1999, and Rosenberg's draft was rejected. A second draft, by Buchman, involved Pteranodons escaping to the Costa Rican mainland and killing people, while a parallel story within the script would involve Alan Grant and others crash-landing on Isla Sorna.
Approximately five weeks before the start of filming, Johnston and Spielberg rejected the second draft in favor of a simpler story idea suggested by David Koepp, the writer of the previous two films. Payne and Taylor were hired to rewrite the earlier script by Buchman, who made further revisions to their draft. The script also received uncredited work by John August. Filming lasted five months, and began in Hawaii on August 30, 2000, before moving to California. A final draft of the script was never completed during production, and Johnston considered quitting the project on a few occasions because of uncertainty about how the film would turn out. As with previous films, Jurassic Park III features a combination of computer-generated and animatronic dinosaurs, created respectively by Industrial Light & Magic and Stan Winston. Unlike the previous films, Jurassic Park III features the Spinosaurus as the main dinosaur antagonist, replacing the Tyrannosaurus rex.
Jurassic Park III was theatrically released on July 18, 2001. Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film was successful at the box office, grossing $368 million worldwide. The next film in the series, Jurassic World, was released in June 2015.
Ben Hildebrand and Eric Kirby go parasailing over the waters near Isla Sorna. The boat's crew disappears, prompting Ben to detach the line before the boat crashes. He and Eric drift towards the island.
Eight weeks later, paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant has made a new discovery about the intelligence of Velociraptors, but struggles to secure funding for his research. Grant discusses his discovery of a resonating larynx on fossilized raptor remains with his longtime colleague Ellie. This, and his experience at Jurassic Park, leads him to believe that the original Velociraptors were socially sophisticated. He hypothesizes that if they had not gone extinct and continued to evolve, their descendants—rather than humans—would have become Earth's dominant species. His assistant Billy Brennan uses a 3D printer to replicate the Velociraptor larynx.
Paul and Amanda Kirby, posing as a wealthy couple, offer funding for Grant's research if he will give them an aerial tour of Isla Sorna. Grant reluctantly agrees and flies there with Paul, Amanda, Billy, and the Kirbys' mercenary associates Udesky, Cooper, and their pilot Nash. During the flight, Grant learns that the Kirbys' plan to land on the island; he protests but Cooper knocks him unconscious.
Grant awakens to discover that they have landed. A Spinosaurus approaches the group, who board the plane to escape, leaving Cooper behind as he tries to reach the plane. The Spinosaurus emerges on the runway and devours Cooper. In avoiding the Spinosaurus, the plane crashes into the forest. The Spinosaurus destroys the plane and consumes Nash, who had possession of Paul's satellite phone. Fleeing, the survivors briefly lose the Spinosaurus but encounter a Tyrannosaurus rex. The Spinosaurus returns and the group escapes while the two dinosaurs engage in a battle, with the Spinosaurus killing the Tyrannosaurus.
Grant learns that the Kirbys are a middle-class, divorced couple who are looking for their son Eric and Amanda's boyfriend Ben, who went missing on the island. Government agencies declined to help the Kirbys, so they brought Grant along as an expert because of his past experience at Jurassic Park. To their dismay however, Grant explains his previous visit was to Isla Nublar, not Isla Sorna, and as such is just as lost as they are. The group finds Ben's parasail with his corpse attached to it. They take the parasail and then encounter raptor nests, and find an abandoned InGen compound. A raptor chases them and summons the rest of its pack. The humans flee into a herd of Corythosaurus and Parasaurolophus, causing a stampede, and separating Grant and Udesky from the others. The raptors attack Udesky in an attempt to lure the others out of a tree and almost succeed in attacking Amanda when she tries to descend to help him. The raptors' trap fails and they kill Udesky before departing.
Elsewhere, Grant watches the raptors communicating and suspects that they are searching for something. They ambush him but he is rescued by Eric, who has survived in an overturned supply truck. The next day, Grant and Eric are reunited with Billy and the Kirbys after Eric hears the ringtone of his dad's satellite phone. The group is then chased by the Spinosaurus, but manage to lock it out by entering an abandoned observatory.
Grant discovers that Billy has taken two raptor eggs to use for funding, which provoked the raptor attacks. Grant decides to keep the eggs to ensure the group's survival. The group unknowingly enters a large aviary used to house Pteranodons, which attack the group and fly away with Eric. Billy rescues Eric using Ben's parasail, but is then attacked and seemingly killed by the Pteranodons. The rest of the group escapes the aviary, unknowingly leaving the door unlocked. They find a boat and make their way down a river.
That night, the group retrieves the ringing satellite phone from the feces of the Spinosaurus. Grant contacts Ellie and tells her where they are but the Spinosaurus attacks the boat. Grant ignites the boat's fuel, causing the Spinosaurus to flee. The next morning, the group makes its way towards the coast but are surrounded by the raptors. They surrender the eggs to the raptors while Grant uses the replica raptor larynx to confuse the pack, which runs off with the eggs.
The group reach the coast and see that Ellie had called in the Marine Corps and the Navy to rescue them. They discover that Billy, while seriously injured, has also been rescued. As they leave the island, they see the Pteranodons fly by.
- Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, a paleontologist
- William H. Macy as Paul Kirby, a businessman
- Téa Leoni as Amanda Kirby, Paul's former wife
- Alessandro Nivola as Billy Brennan, Dr. Grant's assistant
- Nivola also voices a Velociraptor in a dream sequence
- Trevor Morgan as Eric Kirby, Paul and Amanda's son who has been stranded on Isla Sorna for 8 weeks after a parasailing accident
- Michael Jeter as Udesky, the Kirbys' mercenary associate
- John Diehl as Cooper, the Kirbys' secondary mercenary associate
- Bruce A. Young as Nash, the pilot of the group's airplane
- Laura Dern as Ellie, Grant's former girlfriend and wife of Mark. She is the mother of two young children with Mark.
- Taylor Nichols as Mark, Ellie's husband who works for the U.S. State Department.
- Mark Harelik as Ben Hildebrand, Amanda's friend who goes parasailing with Eric
- Julio Oscar Mechoso as Enrique Cardoso, the parasailing operator
- Blake Bryan as Charlie, Mark and Ellie's young son
When Steven Spielberg's film Jurassic Park was released in 1993, his friend Joe Johnston became interested in directing a potential sequel. While Spielberg expected to direct the first sequel, he agreed Johnston could direct a possible third film. The second film, entitled The Lost World: Jurassic Park, includes a scene showing a Tyrannosaurus rampaging through San Diego; Spielberg had intended to use this scene for a third film but later decided to add it into the second film after realizing he probably would not direct another film in the series. After the release of the second film in May 1997, Spielberg was busy with other projects; when asked about the possibility of a third Jurassic Park film, he responded, "It would give me a tremendous ... headache just to think about it". Spielberg had no intention of returning to the Jurassic Park series as a director, stating that the films were difficult to make. He had been satisfied with directing the previous films, and felt that the third film needed someone new to take over. After the release of the second film, Johnston again asked Spielberg about directing a Jurassic Park sequel.
Universal Pictures announced the film on June 29, 1998, with Spielberg as a producer. Michael Crichton was to collaborate with Spielberg to create a storyline and write a script, although Johnston later said that Crichton had no involvement with the project. The film was initially set for release in mid-2000. Spielberg initially devised a story involving Dr. Alan Grant, who was discovered to have been living on one of InGen's islands. According to Johnston, "He'd snuck in, after not being allowed in to research the dinosaurs, and was living in a tree like Robinson Crusoe. But I couldn't imagine this guy wanting to get back on any island that had dinosaurs in it after the first movie."
Craig Rosenberg, who previously wrote and directed Hotel de Love, began writing the first draft of Jurassic Park III in June 1999. Rosenberg's draft involved teenagers becoming marooned on Isla Sorna, and it included a sequence involving the aquatic reptile Kronosaurus, which was not featured in the final film. Johnston was announced as the film's director in August 1999, with Rosenberg still attached. Spielberg gave complete creative freedom to Johnston, who said that Spielberg "has strongly pointed out that I shouldn't try to copy him." Production was expected to begin in early 2000. The previous films were shot in Hawaii, and the island of Kauai was the preferred filming location for the third film, although no decisions would be made until the finalization of the script. Rosenberg's draft about teenagers on Isla Sorna was rejected in September 1999. Johnston said it was "not a badly written script", but he felt that viewers would not want to see such a story. He also said, "It read like a bad episode of Friends". By December 1999, people had been hired to devise a better story idea for the film.
The film's second script, written by Peter Buchman, involved Pteranodons escaping to the Costa Rican mainland and causing a spate of mysterious killings before people realized what was happening. The script also had a parallel story which involved Alan Grant, Billy, and a family with a child all crash-landing on Isla Sorna. The script included 12-year-old Miles Roby, his father Paul Roby, and Paul's bodyguard named Cooper. Other characters included a naturalist named Simone, and another woman who would be both Paul's girlfriend and business associate. The aviary and InGen laboratory sequences were much longer and more complex in this draft than in the final film. Part of the script would involve the humans spending the night in the laboratory and making it their base of operations, although Velociraptors would eventually sneak into the lab. Filming locations were scouted for this draft, including Fiordland, New Zealand, which was once considered as a location for the previous film. In March 2000, it was reported that Maui, Hawaii, had been chosen instead of New Zealand.
Sam Neill signed to the project in June 2000, reprising his role from the first film as Dr. Alan Grant. Johnston later described Grant in the third film as being more cynical and sarcastic following the character's experience in the first film. Neill was happy to return, as he felt his performance in the first film could have been better. Hawaii was confirmed as a filming location for a three-week shoot, and filming overall was expected to take 18 weeks. Filming was scheduled to begin by August 2000, with a projected release in July 2001. William H. Macy originally turned down his role due to scheduling conflicts, so filming was delayed by a month. Macy had been working with Laura Dern on the 2001 film Focus, and she urged him to accept the role in Jurassic Park III. Trevor Morgan and Téa Leoni were subsequently announced as cast members. During the pre-production phase, concept artists created advertising for the film using working titles including Jurassic Park 3: Extinction, Jurassic Park: Breakout, and The Extinction: Jurassic Park 3. These advertisement mock-up posters can be found via the special features of certain DVD releases of the film.
Johnston felt the story for the second script was too complicated, particularly in getting Alan Grant back to an island of dinosaurs. When screenwriter David Koepp held discussions with Johnston, Koepp suggested the simpler "rescue mission" plot. Koepp had written the previous two films, but had no involvement in writing the script for Jurassic Park III. In July 2000, approximately five weeks before filming began, Johnston and Spielberg rejected the entire second script because they were dissatisfied with it; $18 million had already been spent on the film, which had been storyboarded and budgeted. Some set-building had already begun as well. The rejection came after Johnston and Spielberg approved Koepp's story idea, believing it to be superior to the earlier story. Many sequences from the second rejected draft, and some from the original draft, were incorporated into the final film as a way of salvaging the work that had been put into the project up to that point. At the time, Utah's Dinosaur National Monument and a military base at Oahu were being considered as filming locations.
Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor began rewriting Buchman's script in July 2000, while Spielberg signed a deal with Universal to receive 20 percent of the film's profits. Payne and Taylor were hired to improve the film's characters and story, as the script primarily consisted of action. They were surprised to receive the writing offer, as the project differed from past films they had worked on, but Universal had been impressed with their rewrite on the studio's film Meet the Parents. Payne and Taylor were not hardcore fans of the Jurassic Park franchise, although Taylor enjoyed its premise. The two writers watched the previous Jurassic Park films and spent the next four weeks writing their draft of the script. The writing team had previously written Citizen Ruth (1996), which starred Laura Dern. She had also portrayed Ellie in the first Jurassic Park film. Ellie was absent from the previous Jurassic Park III script, so Payne and Taylor decided to write in a small part for Dern to reprise the character.
Buchman made subsequent revisions to the script, and John August did uncredited work on it as well. Much of the humor added by Payne and Taylor was not used in the final film. According to Payne, "We gave them a new script, and then we saw the movie, and it's all action. They took the rest out!" Writing credit ultimately went to Buchman, Payne, and Taylor. Johnston described the final film as simpler, faster-moving, and more intense than the earlier films.
A final draft of the script was never completed during production. Johnston said, "We shot pages that eventually went into the final script but we didn't have a document". While the first act was mostly in place, the middle portion of the script was not as complete, and the ending had yet to be written. Principal photography began on August 30, 2000, and it lasted five months. Filming the script was a lengthy process because of technical preparations before scenes. Macy criticized the project during filming. Commenting on the slow pace of filming, Macy said "we would do a quarter-page–some days, an eighth of a page. And that would be a full 12-hour day." Johnston said that filming ultimately went over schedule by a few days, primarily because of weather and unexpected technical issues, although he was satisfied with how the schedule eventually turned out considering these issues.
Macy also noted that executive producer Spielberg was not seen on set, despite a chair bearing his name that was always present, with Macy saying, "You don't know if it's a threat or a promise!" Spielberg was busy creating the 2001 film A.I. Artificial Intelligence. While Macy was impressed with the Jurassic Park III footage, he criticized the project for starting without a finished script: "The script has been evolving and being rewritten as we go, and what you want to say is, 'Who launched a $100 million ship without a rudder, and who's getting fired for this?' But that's the way it goes. That's the way they make these movies... big deal. I think someone should be shot, but I'm not in charge." Johnston said the actors went through an uncomfortable production shoot and that Macy may have simply made the critical comments on a bad day of filming. As the film approached its release, Macy said, "It was about the most amazing thing I've ever done in this business."
Johnston thought about quitting the project on a few occasions because of uncertainty about how the film would turn out, considering that it did not have a finished script. He said that making the film was "a living hell on a daily basis", and that shooting without a finished script was "nerve-wracking, but it was also a way of freeing up the whole creative process. We could literally decide on the day how we wanted a scene to progress. I'm not saying it's the way to make movies, but it gives you more freedom." Johnston said the actors were "very flexible" and that they dealt with the lack of a finished script "the best they could." Alessandro Nivola criticized the film after its release, saying, "It was like the only part I've ever done that just had nothing for me to latch on to, character-wise," saying, "It was kind of maddening." The actors were frequently bruised during filming. Leoni said "more of my makeup was to cover the real bruises than to create fake ones." Michael Lantieri, who worked on the previous films, returned as the special effects consultant. Lantieri said that Jurassic Park III was the most physically demanding film of the series: "We had a cast that was willing to get real bruises and bumps, be around real heat, and actually go underwater."
Filming began at Dillingham Airfield in Mokulēia, Hawaii, and continued on Oahu during early September 2000. Filming in Oahu included Heeia Kea Ranch. Aerial footage of Molokai's North Shore cliffs was then filmed over a two-day period, followed by a week of filming in Kauai, where locations included Hanalei Valley and rain forests in the Manoa Valley. Filming in Hawaii concluded in mid-September 2000, after scenes were shot at the South Fork of Kauai's Wailua River. By that time, John August had been hired to do the uncredited script revisions, which were followed by additional work from Buchman. Macy also wrote a scene.
After the Hawaii shoot, production moved to California. A dinosaur lecture given by the character of Alan Grant was filmed at Occidental College in Los Angeles on October 10, 2000. Scenes were filmed at Center Bay Studios in Los Angeles at the end of October. Other filming locations in California included a rock quarry in Irwindale, while the interior of the InGen compound was filmed in a warehouse located east of downtown Los Angeles. Another scene was filmed at El Mirage Lake, where Udesky and the mercenaries prepare for their visit to Isla Sorna.
Dern's small role as Ellie was filmed in a day. Scenes set at Ellie's house were filmed in South Pasadena, California. In an earlier draft, Neill's and Dern's characters were a couple in the process of splitting up. Johnston said, "I didn't want to see them as a couple anymore. For one thing, I don't think they look like a couple. It would be uncomfortable to still see them together. And Laura Dern doesn't look like she's aged for the past fifteen years!"
Filming subsequently moved to Universal Studios' backlot in Los Angeles for 96 days. Production designer Ed Verreaux and greensman Danny Ondrejko created a jungle rain forest at Universal's Stage 12. Ondrejko and his 14-member team took two months to create the jungle set, and Lantieri's team created mist and fog through the use of pipes. Johnston was impressed with the set and had difficulty distinguishing it from the jungles in Hawaii.
The most challenging scene for Lantieri was the Spinosaurus attack on the plane, which was filmed on a soundstage. Lantieri's team built four plane props for the scene. The beginning of the scene depicts the crashed airplane in a tree, 15 feet above ground, before the plane later falls to the ground and is rolled around by the Spinosaurus. For the early portion of the sequence, Lantieri created a pneumatic gimbal disguised as a tree, with the plane placed on top. The gimble had 100 horsepower and was powered by hydraulics and hoses. It allowed the plane to be shaken and tilted. The plane also had a breakaway cockpit area for a shot in which the Spinosaurus tears the front end off. A later portion of the attack scene required close collaboration with Winston's team, which created a full-scale Spinosaurus leg prop, controlled by puppeteers. The leg, suspended in the air by two poles, was slammed down into one of the plane fuselage props for a series of shots. Another prop plane was rigged with a hydraulic machine which crushed the fuselage from the inside, giving the impression that it was being crushed by the Spinosaurus. With another prop plane, the actors were filmed inside the fuselage as it is rolled around. The actors agreed to do their own stunts for the scene, which Macy compared to being inside a clothes dryer. Stunt people were only used for one shot during this scene.
The film is the first in the series not to be based on a novel, although it includes characters and ideas from Crichton, who wrote the novels that inspired the previous two films. For Jurassic Park III, Crichton received a "based on characters created by" credit. Scenes involving a pterosaur aviary and a T. rex's attempted attack on a river raft were featured in the first novel Jurassic Park (1990). Although these scenes were absent from the novel's film adaptation, they were added into Jurassic Park III. The film's Spinosaurus attack on the boat is a modified version of the scene from the novel. At Falls Lake, located on the Universal lot, Verreaux and his team built a giant rock wall as part of a set that would depict InGen's Pteranodon aviary. Three months were spent laying foam blocks that were molded by hand to form jagged rock. A team subsequently built a ten-story, three-sided scaffold covered with netting to simulate the aviary. The aviary scene was filmed in early December 2000. The set was then redecorated for the nighttime exterior sequence in which the Spinosaurus attacks the boat. The scene involved rain and fire, and took nine nights of filming. Part of the scene required Macy to stand on a giant crane and distract the Spinosaurus. Macy fell off the crane, but had a harness. Another portion of the scene required the actors to perform underwater. The scene depicting the satellite phone in Spinosaurus feces was filmed using 250 gallons of oatmeal.
In a November 2000 draft of the script, the U.S. State Department would send in a helicopter and Ellie to rescue the characters, with Ellie explaining that she arrived thanks to a good friend at the department. This ending was not considered exciting enough, resulting in the final ending with the Marines and Navy coming to rescue the characters, while excluding Ellie from coming to the island. In the final film, Ellie's husband is an employee of the State Department, although his involvement in rescuing the group is not specified. The new ending was written in December 2000, and The Pentagon loaned two Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawks to the production, as well as four Assault Amphibious Vehicles and 80 Marine soldiers. Production returned to Hawaii in January 2001 to film the ending on Kauai's Pila'a Beach. Originally, the Pteranodon attack on Billy was meant to be the character's final appearance in the film, resulting in his death, until script revisions brought the character back for the end of the story. The film's longest rough cut without credits was approximately 96 minutes long. According to Johnston, "We lost maybe 8 minutes, so it was never really that long".
Creatures on screen
As with the previous films, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) provided dinosaurs through Computer-generated imagery (CGI), while Stan Winston and his team provided animatronics. The animatronics were more advanced than those used in previous films, and included the ability to blink, for an increased sense of realism. While animatronics were used for close-up shots, other scenes used sticks with pictures of dinosaur heads attached, as placeholders to which the actors could react. Puppeteers worked together to create the T. rex, Spinosaurus, and Velociraptor movements. Multiple puppeteers were assigned to operate different parts of each animatronic dinosaur, and in some cases it would take hours of practice for a dinosaur's puppeteers to perform in sync. The animatronics were powerful and considered dangerous, as one wrong move could kill someone. One scene, depicting Udesky's death, was filmed with Winston team member John Rosengrant wearing a partial raptor suit. Winston's team took approximately 13 months to design and create the various practical dinosaurs. ILM scanned dinosaur sculptures, also created by Winston's team, to create the computer-generated versions of the animals. ILM also designed some dinosaurs entirely through CGI, including Ankylosaurus and Brachiosaurus. New dinosaurs not featured in earlier films included the Ankylosaurus, in addition to Ceratosaurus and Corythosaurus.
Paleontologist Jack Horner worked as the film's technical advisor, as he had done for the previous films. Horner was brought on early in the film's development when story ideas were being considered. After two films, the filmmakers wanted to replace the T. rex with a new dinosaur antagonist. Baryonyx was originally considered, and early concept posters reflected this. Horner ultimately convinced the filmmakers to replace the T. rex with the larger Spinosaurus, an animal which had a distinctive sail on its back. Johnston stated, "A lot of dinosaurs have a very similar silhouette to the T-Rex ... and we wanted the audience to instantly recognize this as something else". Horner hypothesized that T. rex was more of a scavenger while Spinosaurus was a true predator.
Winston and his sculptors created an initial Spinosaurus design, and Horner then provided his scientific opinion. Winston's team began with a 1/16 maquette version of the Spinosaurus, before creating a 1/5 scale version with more detail, leading to the creation of the final, full-scale version. The process took 10 months. The Spinosaurus animatronic was built from the knees up, while full body shots of the animal were done through CGI. The Spinosaurus animatronic measured 44 feet long, weighed 13 tons, and was faster and more powerful than the 9-ton T. rex. Winston and his team had to remove a wall to get the Spinosaurus animatronic out of Winston's studio, located in Van Nuys, California. It was then transported by flatbed truck to the jungle set at Universal Studios' Stage 12. Verreaux had to design the set to accommodate the dinosaur. At the soundstage, the Spinosaurus was placed on a track that allowed the creature to be moved backward and forward. Four Winston technicians were required to fully operate the Spinosaurus animatronic.
The fight between the Spinosaurus and T. rex was one of the last scenes shot for the film, and the two animatronics were put to extensive use for the fight. A T. rex animatronic from the previous film was re-skinned for its appearance in Jurassic Park III. The Spinosaurus animatronic was so powerful that it ripped the head off of the T. rex during filming. Johnston said the fight was meant as a modern homage to various earlier films that featured dinosaurs created by Ray Harryhausen.
Because of new discoveries and theories in the field of paleontology, several dinosaurs are portrayed differently in this film than in previous ones. Discoveries suggesting Velociraptor were feathered prompted the addition of quill-like structures on the head and neck of the males in the film. Horner said, "We've found evidence that Velociraptors had feathers, or feather-like structures, and we've incorporated that into the new look of the raptor".
Spielberg insisted that Johnston include Pteranodons, which had been removed from the previous films for budget reasons, with the exception of a brief appearance in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The Pteranodons featured in Jurassic Park III are a fictionalized version of the actual animal. The animals were created with a combination of animatronics and puppetry. Winston and his team created a Pteranodon model with a wingspan of 40 feet, although the creatures are predominantly featured in the film through CGI. ILM animators studied footage of bats and birds while in flight and also closely worked with a Pteranodon expert to create the creatures' flight movements. Winston's team also designed and created five rod puppets to depict baby Pteranodons in a nest, with puppeteers working underneath the nest to control them. Johnston chose the Pteranodons to end the film because he wanted an ending shot of "these creatures being beautiful and elegant".
The film contains more than 400 effects shots, approximately twice the amount featured in the two previous films combined. Most of the shots were for the fight between the T. rex and Spinosaurus, and for the Pteranodon aviary sequence. Less than half of the 400 effects shots involved dinosaurs, as the animators also had to focus on environmental surroundings, such as jungle foliage brushed by dinosaurs. Some shots were only a few seconds long but required months of work.
Composer John Williams, who worked on the previous films, was busy writing the music for A.I. Artificial Intelligence; he recommended Don Davis to write the Jurassic Park III score. Williams' original themes and several new ones—such as one for the Spinosaurus that focused on low sounds, with tubas, trombones, and timpani—were integrated into the score. The fight between the Spinosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus, which Davis compared to King Kong's fight with dinosaur in the 1933 film, juxtaposes the Spinosaurus theme with the one Williams wrote for the T. rex. In addition, "Big Hat, No Cattle", a song by Randy Newman, was used in a restaurant scene.
Marketing and merchandise
A teaser trailer was released online in September 2000, and the first image from the film was released four months later. Universal avoided excessive early marketing to prevent a possible backlash; the studio believed awareness of the film was already sufficient. Marketing began in April 2001, three months before the film's release. The first footage from the film was aired during the second-season finale of Survivor in May 2001, and the official website went online at the end of June 2001. Promotional partners included Kodak and The Coca-Cola Company. No fast-food promotions took place in the United States, although children's meal toys based on the film were offered in Canadian Burger King outlets.
Seven video games were released to coincide with the film, and a novelization by Scott Ciencin that was aimed at young children was published. Ciencin also wrote three children's books to tie in with the film's events: Jurassic Park Adventures: Survivor, the first book, detailed the eight weeks Eric spent alone on Isla Sorna; Jurassic Park Adventures: Prey had Eric and Alan returning to Isla Sorna to rescue a group of teenage filmmakers; and Jurassic Park Adventures: Flyers involved Eric and Alan leading the Pteranodon home after they nest in a Universal Studios theme park.
In early 2001, Hasbro released a line of 3¾-inch action figures including electronic dinosaurs, humans, and vehicles, to coincide with the film's release. The figures were scaled down from the original Kenner action figures from the pre-Jurassic Park III toy lines. A line of toys were also released through the Lego Studios brand. Playskool released a line of toys called Jurassic Park Junior, which were aimed at young children. A smaller line of die-cast toys and a range of clothes were also produced. In November 2001, to promote the film's impending home media release, Universal launched a viral marketing website for Isla Travel, a fictional Isla Sorna travel agency.
Cell phone promotion
For the film's home media release, Universal partnered with cell-phone company Hop-On to produce "the world's first disposable cell phone", which would have been available through an in-package offer upon purchase of the film. The telephones were to be delivered free to customers who responded to a winning promotional card that was supplied with selected copies of the film. Approximately 5,000 copies of the film contained a winning promotional card; approximately 1,000 of them were redeemed.
The promotion was canceled because the handsets could not be finished on time. An investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that sample versions of Hop-On's cell phones were actually modified Nokia handsets; Hop-On was having problems with its own design. Customers who were to receive the cell phones received a $30 check and a free DVD instead.
Jurassic Park III premiered at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, California, on July 16, 2001; two days later the film was released in the United States and other countries. The soundtrack was released in July 2001. Neill, a resident of New Zealand, hosted the film's Australasian premiere in the city of Dunedin in August 2001.
The film was released on VHS and DVD on December 11, 2001. It was re-released with both sequels in December 2001 as the Jurassic Park Trilogy, and as the Jurassic Park Adventure Pack in November 2005. In 2011, the film was released on Blu-ray as part of the Jurassic Park: Ultimate Trilogy Blu-ray collection. Jurassic Park III is also included in the Jurassic Park 4K UHD Blu-Ray collection, which was released on May 22, 2018.
Jurassic Park III had a successful opening weekend, earning $50.3 million. The film ultimately earned $181.2 million in the United States and $368.8 million worldwide, making it the eighth-highest-grossing film of the year worldwide. It is the lowest-grossing film in the franchise.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 49% based on 182 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Jurassic Park III is darker and faster than its predecessors, but that doesn't quite compensate for the franchise's continuing creative decline." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 42 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale. On Metacritic, it is the lowest-rated film of the Jurassic Park franchise, and Universal did not allow reviews to be published until the film's release.
Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, who praised the previous Jurassic Park films, awarded the third film a C grade, writing "Jurassic Park III has no pretensions to be anything more than a goose-bumpy fantasy theme-park ride for kids, but it's such a routine ride. Spielberg's wizardry is gone, and his balletic light touch as well, and that gives too much of this 90-minute movie over to the duller-than-dull characters." Derek Elley of Variety called the film "an all-action, helter-skelter, don't-forget-to-buy-the-computer-game ride that makes the two previous installments look like models of classic filmmaking". Ben Varkontine of PopMatters called it "not as good a ride as the first, but a damn sight better than the second". Much of the criticism was leveled at the plot as being simply a chase movie with no character development; Apollo Movie Guide panned the film as being "almost the same as the first movie" with "no need for new ideas or even a script". Empire magazine gave the film 3 stars out of 5, calling it "short, scrappy and intermittently scary".
On Ebert and Roeper, Richard Roeper gave it a Thumbs Down while Roger Ebert awarded a Thumbs Up. In a subsequent review, Ebert called it "the best blockbuster of the Summer". In his review, Ebert gave the film three stars and said it "is not as awe-inspiring as the first film or as elaborate as the second, but in its own B-movie way it's a nice little thrill machine". He also wrote, "I can't praise it for its art, but I must not neglect its craft, and on that basis I recommend it". Paleontologist Robert T. Bakker, an early pioneer of the dinosaur-bird connection, said the feather quills added to the Velociraptor for Jurassic Park III "looked like a roadrunner's toupee", but conceded that feathers are difficult subjects for computer animation and speculated that Jurassic Park IV's raptors would have more realistic plumage. Spielberg, according to his spokesman, was "very happy" with Johnston's work on the film. In 2002, Crichton said he had not watched the film. Some fans of the series were upset with the decision to kill off the T. rex and replace it with a new dinosaur.
Some later reviews of the film have been positive, with a couple critics declaring it superior to The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Retrospective reviews have also praised the aviary sequence. Simon Brew, writing for Den of Geek, stated in 2007 that the film has "an efficiency and focus" that was missing in the previous film, writing, "Here, there's no educational aspect. There's no messing around." He enjoyed the set pieces, but criticized the abrupt ending. Several critics reviewed the film in 2015, when Jurassic World was released. Justin Harp of Digital Spy wrote that despite the shortcomings of Jurassic Park III, it "remains immensely watchable and visually impressive. It manages to strike a clear balance between moments of terror and genuine laughs." Although Harp considered the film to be the black sheep of the series, he described it as "fresh, exciting and, most of all, a whole lot of fun." Matt Goldberg of Collider wrote that the film "doesn't really have any reason to exist beyond proving that the franchise maybe never should have been a franchise to begin with." Goldberg stated that the film "is overly excited to let you know [the raptors] can vocally speak to each other, which ends up just looking funny. It feels like we're missing subtitles". Zaki Hasan of Sequart Organization enjoyed the film, but wrote that it has issues such as the abrupt ending. Entertainment Weekly, in 2018, wrote "what the plot lacks in credibility it makes up for with relatability." The magazine praised it as the only film in the series that "has zero to do with scientific stupidity or sinister corporate forces," writing that it was "perhaps the most narratively original" film out of all them.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|BMI Film Awards||May 15, 2002||Best Music||Don Davis and John Williams||Won|||
|Golden Raspberry Awards||March 23, 2002||Worst Remake or Sequel||Nominated|||
|Golden Reel Awards||March 23, 2002||Best Sound Editing – Effects & Foley||Nominated|||
|Golden Trailer Awards||2002||Best Horror/Thriller Film||Nominated|||
|Satellite Awards||January 19, 2002||Best Visual Effects||Jim Mitchell||Nominated|||
|Best Sound||Howell Gibbens||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||June 10, 2002||Best Science Fiction Film||Nominated|||
|Best Special Effects||Nominated|
|Stinkers Bad Movie Awards||2002||Worst Actress||Tea Leoni||Nominated|||
|Worst Screenplay for a Film Grossing More Than $100 Million Worldwide Using Hollywood Math||Nominated|
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