From ‘Park’ to ‘World’: 65 Million Years (Not Really) of ‘Jurassic’ Posters

By  · Published on October 16th, 2014

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What would Jurassic Park be without that iconic poster design? It seems so simple: take a circle, slap a rectangle over the top and let a dinosaur skeleton chill in the open space that remains. But somehow, circle + rectangle + dino skeleton = instant iconicism. There’s power in that odd, street sign-shaped design – so much so that every subsequent Jurassic Park film has been content to slap the logo on a solid color background and call it a day as far as poster marketing goes. (Sure, the original had all of these incredible John Alvin poster designs, but there’s a reason they went unused- in the end, the minimalist tease is so much more effective).

And while we’ve seen a hint of what Jurassic World’s dinocircle would look like – back when the film was first announced, it came with a cold metal update on the original icon – that wasn’t nearly its final form. Was it too simplistic? Too close to this near-identical design from a 2003 Jurassic Park-building sim game? Who knows? This new teaser poster for Jurassic World, however, just might be the finished product. Revealed to the world by director Colin Trevorrow on Twitter, it’s everything one would expect from a Jurassic poster – classic shape on a sparse background, with a logo to boot: “The Park is Open.” Hopefully future posters will be just as plainly informative about the park-to-be: “Tickets On Sale Now.” “Visit The Snack Bar For Some Jurassic Fries.” “Hey, Is That An Allosaurus Behind You?”

As much as we’d love to gaze at this sleek metal dino skeleton for the next two hours or so (transfixed by its beauty and its dinosaur-ness), a logo as iconic as Jurassic Park’s needs a little unpacking. So let’s do just that by travelling through the decades marveling at the many incarnations of circle + rectangle + dino skeleton, uncovering how the logo has changed from film to film, and exploring how each dinocircle reflects the ideals of the tourist-munching movie it represents.

And the last one from Wikipedia, because SlashFilm’s example from III is an early teaser poster that’s not the final product:

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Jurassic Park

This tease is legendary. It’s not humanly possible to stamp the Jurassic Park logo on a poster with any more simplicity – four solid colors (black, white, red, yellow), no frills and absolutely nothing to distract the eye from the logo before us. A logo which, frankly, is a work of genius. The dinosaur is an exact copy of the one seen on the very first cover of Michael Crichton’s novel, subtly taking our mind back to the source material (either you read the original novel, or you glanced at it 600 times in passing on book store shelves).

The shape, then, is what’s new: clean, industrial, almost too iconic. Which is kind of the point, because it’s not just the symbol for a film, but for a fictional multimillion-dollar theme park. Taking in the poster as a whole, the sense of teasey foreboding it creates is uncanny- here’s nature at its most ancient and powerful (dino skeleton) contained inside something man made (park logo) that can’t possibly work out in man’s favor (deathly black background).

So, so, so, so, so very cool.

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The Lost World: Jurassic Park

If you’ve seen The Lost World: Jurassic Park, you know one thing above all. Try as it might, it’s nowhere near as astounding as the original. Ditto for the poster. You’d think, given how the first film bowled through the box office like a brachiosaurus through a display of fine china (up until Titanic, Jurassic Park made more non-inflation-adjusted dollars than any movie in human history), that you could slap the same logo on a poster, give it the slightest of tweaks and send audiences into fits of mass prehysteria.

The Lost World’s dinocircle may have over-tweaked things a bit. The text in our rectangle has expanded to add those three extra words in the title (perfectly reasonable), but the colors have been swapped (the background for the T-Rex skeleton is now red while the circle’s outline is now yellow). Also, the whole thing has been scratched to hell, presumably by dinosaurs unrestricted by park regulation. After all, dinosaur nature left unchecked is the point of the film – first in their natural habitat, and then in our own, easily munchable human society.

No one could say it isn’t impressive, but after taking in the first film’s poster/logo, it can’t help but seem over-designed.

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Jurassic Park III

Or not. In comparison to Jurassic Park III, The Lost World is a masterpiece of minimalist thinking. Jurassic Park III is the cool kid of the family, the Jurassic Park film that rides around on a skateboard with a backwards ballcap and sunglasses, that gets “biz-zay” on a regular basis.

The T-Rex is no longer hip, so lets replace it with Spinosaurus, a larger, sleeker predator with a backfin, the dinosaur equivalent of a mohawk. Even the Raptors are losing it, so let’s throw some feathers on ’em (yes, velociraptors did have feathers, but enough to make them look like dino-chickens and not just for a stylish accent) and up their intelligence level dramatically.

The poster reflects this. We’ve lost the entire color scheme, going for a metal effect with red inside the logo, with a Spinosaurus in the T-Rex’s usual spot. Then, the little details make it extreme — the surrounding metal is warped and scratched, the Spinosaurus’s mouth is more open and aggressive than the neutral T-Rex and the “III” in the title is raked into the logo with a dino claw. Finish with a giant Pteranadon shadow that obscures the logo we’re supposed to be looking at, and the poster is complete.

Jurassic World’s take on the logo bodes well for the franchise. Sure, it’s still as metallic as Jurassic Park III, but we’ve skipped the replacement dinos and the hardcore scratching effects as the original Crichton-novel T-Rex is returned, flipping Spinosaurus the bird with its tiny little hands. It’s the original logo, just given a slight future sheen and set against appropriately murky darkness (although it’s not solid… is that smoke? Water? Water might be appropriate, given the all-but-confirmed appearance of a Mosasaurus in the film).

The future of Jurassic World is full of promise. And also dinosaurs. Duh.

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