[UPDATE: Colin Trevorrow is directing Jurassic Park 4.]
Universal is (finally) planning to begin shooting Jurassic Park 4 this year, with the latest reports suggesting production may take place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following the set construction and stage work (which could get underway as soon as next month). The project is moving forward without producer Kathleen Kennedy, since she is preoccupied working as the new president of Lucasfilm and developing additional Star Wars movies.
However, Steven Spielberg is still producing and remains onboard to guide this sci-fi cash cow he started into the next stage of evolution (pardon the pun). The iconic filmmaker previously confirmed that he won't direct the fourth installment, but the fact that Universal has yet to announce a candidate for the job has contributed to speculation that Spielberg may be planning to take the helm after all.
Before we continue on down this rabbit hole any further, let's step back a moment and examine where this idea is even coming from. HitFix's Drew McWeeny wrote an article expressing his excitement about the fast-approaching Jurassic Park 3D theatrical re-release, before addressing how it could be the perfect occasion for studio heads to announce that Spielberg is directing JP4 after all. He then explains the logic and facts which make this suggestion more than a shot in the dark:
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?...
Spielberg is, in fact, available to direct a project in the immediate future, coming after his decision to delay his previously-planned followup to last year's Oscar-winning historical drama Lincoln (the sci-fi novel adaptation Robopocalypse). For our purposes here, though, we are not going to focus on whether or not he could direct JP4 - but, rather, whether or not he should (sorry, couldn't resist).
We know Spielberg and screenwriter Mark Protosevich (Thor) collaborated on the story being used in the JP4 script from Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), which indicates that Spielberg is very much invested in making sure the series moves forward in an appropriate direction. Moreover, the plan is to cover new ground for the dinosaur-centric series - though not as radical territory as that in William Monahan and John Sayles' abandoned JP4 script - and not simply rehash the plot and themes of previous installments.
That sort of blockbuster project not only sounds like something Spielberg would be interested in making, it would also help to ensure that another Spielberg-directed Jurassic Park sequel turns our more artistically satisfying and innovative than the results on The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Moreover, having the three-time Oscar-winner call the shots would improve the odds that JP4 uses an effective mixture of practical and digital effects to bring prehistoric monsters to life on the big screen (as opposed to over-using CGI, which a less-experienced filmmaker would be more inclined to do).
On the flip side: Spielberg has made it no secret that he intends to keep moving away from popcorn blockbuster fare and focus on creating rich dramatic work (War Horse, Lincoln), as well as pushing the boundaries on filmmaking techniques and the art of cinema with projects like additional installments in The Adventures of Tintin. Indeed, the director chose to postpone Robopocalypse on the grounds that he felt it wasn't shaping up as economic or personal as he wanted.
That gives reason to wonder: might Spielberg agree to direct Jurassic Park 4 more for the sake of the franchise and its fans (as opposed to, for himself)? The previous occasion on which he revisited a dormant blockbuster series with that mindset, the result was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - which does in fact have its fair share of admirable qualities and entertainment value, but is also proof that once Spielberg says he's done with something, he's better off not looking back afterwards.
How about it - do you WANT to see Spielberg direct Jurassic Park 4? If not, who would you prefer to take the job? Let us know in the comments section.
Jurassic Park 4 opens in theaters on June 14th, 2014.