How Steven Spielberg Helped Save Jurassic World

By  · Published on June 9th, 2015

Chris Pratt and Director Colin Trevorrow (Universal Pictures)

Steven Spielberg doesn’t need Jurassic World to be a mega hit. We all know Mr. Spielberg has plenty of money. What’s another cent mean to Spielberg? Admittedly, his name has been on some projects that appear more monetary-driven, but that’s not the case with Jurassic World. If that wasn’t true, then we wouldn’t have waited almost 14 years for the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise.

Spielberg took his time with this one. Even when he had such talents as William Monahan (The Departed) and John Sayles (Lone Star) involved in writing the fourth film, the legendary director didn’t move forward. Not until two or three years ago did the right story come along.

The director behind Safety Not Guaranteed, Colin Trevorrow, and his co-writer, Derek Connolly, presented Spielberg’s ideas in a story he wanted to see told. With Jurassic World on the right path, the producer made a big decision that probably made more than a few studio execs pull their hair out: pushing back the release date.

“Derek and I wrote the first draft of the script in three weeks and laid it in front of him – and that sent us in the direction of being a screenplay we were going to make a movie of,” Trevorrow says. “Because it was a completely new film, Steven had the power to say, ‘You know what? Let’s take another year to do this. We’re not just trying to make this for the release date, because this does have the potential to be good.’ In that time, we got to work many, many different sessions with him. We made sure how to make it move, have every character fleshed out as much as they could be, and make the world feel real.”

Trevorrow and Connolly share co-writing credit with Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who helped reboot the Planet of the Apes franchise, but, from the sound of it, little of their contribution made it into the final film. When Trevorrow and Connolly came aboard the project, they were more informed by Spielberg’s direction than any previous draft.

“It was a different screenplay, with an entirely different story and different characters,” says Trevorrow. “It did have three key ideas that were Steven’s ideas, which he had attempted in several of the drafts before: the main one was there’s a functional Jurassic Park; the second one was the raptor trainer, Owen (Chris Pratt), the alpha amongst the pack; the third idea was this genetically modified dinosaur, who breaks free and threatens the park. We took his ideas, started over, and made something we felt we could be responsible for in its failure and share, hopefully, in its success with everyone.”

Obviously any filmmaker who’s making movies for the right reasons is going to pinch themselves after speaking with Steven Spielberg. Spielberg was heavily involved in the making-of Jurassic World, and when needed, he’d provide inspiring advice:

“I can think of one very particular thing he said in the editing room,” Trevorrow recalls. “We were going through the movie, trying to find moments that could go or be trimmed. We cut this little bit of travel, where the boys were out in the jungle together, and it was, maybe, 20 seconds long. It was a nice moment between them, but we took it out, and it created a cut that went from a dinosaur footprint in the mud to a helmet with a dinosaur claw scar in it, and it was a good cut. I said, ‘Oh, we won’t know how the kids got here. The last time we saw them they were outside the waterfall.’ Steven said, “Well, logic is the enemy of storytelling.’ I thought, ‘That doesn’t make sense! Logic is everything in storytelling!’ I realized what he meant – that the audience is highly intelligent, so if you need to go from A to C, their brains will cover B on your behalf.”

Spielberg is enough of a showman to getaway with not showing what happens between A and C, glossing over plot holes, and using continuity or logic errors to his advantage. We live in a day and age where people obsess over when the dots don’t always connect, but Spielberg, thankfully, has managed to sneak pass those people, thanks to his impeccable eye for spectacle. Jurassic World often gets away with those cheats, as well, and Spielberg is probably, at least partially, to thank for that.

Jurassic World opens in theaters June 12th.

Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.