A new Jurassic Park movie hasn't played in theaters since 2001 (no, the 3D re-release doesn't count), but that will change in 2015 with Jurassic World. The fourth installment in the extremely-popular sci-fi/horror/adventure franchise will be a "soft" reboot of the property - meaning, while the film won't break story continuity with the previous films, it is nonetheless going to feature an all-new cast, as far as the main human characters are concerned.
... With one (technical) exception, that is. The film's director Colin Trevorrow - who co-wrote the Jurassic World shooting script draft in collaboration with his Safety Not Guaranteed screenwriter Derek Connolly - has confirmed that a supporting character from Steven Spielberg's original Jurassic Park movie is going to see their personal storyline continued in the fourth installment.
Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation) are playing the human leads in Jurassic World. As far as the plot goes, there's yet to be an official synopsis released; however, a recent casting update indicated the film will revolve around a fully-operational version of Jurassic Park in the present-day - as has been rumored for months now.
Currently, sets are being built in Hawaii for parts of the Jurassic World shoot; the rest of production will take place on sound stages in New Orleans (and, reportedly, at the city's abandoned Six Flags amusement park). Trevorrow is planing to capture footage in both the 35 mm and 65 mm format - for those unaware, 65 mm is relatively close to the IMAX scale.
During an interview with IGN, Trevorrow talked about the genre-blending nature of the Jurassic Park franchise ("They’re sci-fi adventures that also have to be funny, emotional and scary as hell.") and how he and Connolly used the extra year of development time allotted to them to properly whip the Jurassic World script into shape.
Trevorow also provided some insight on his decision to shoot the movie in multiple formats:
"We’re shooting 35mm and 65mm film. We’re also using an aspect ratio that hasn’t been seen theatrically in a very long time. The movie will be presented in 2 to 1. It’s basically a middle ground between 2.35 and 1.85. It allows us enough height to fit humans and dinosaurs into a single frame, without giving up that sense of scope. It’s very close to the ratio of the digital IMAX screens, so it will look great in large format. I think other filmmakers will want to give it a try when they see how it looks. It’s very comfortable."
Jurassic World is being filmed in 3D, which provides all the more reason for Trevorrow to get the scale right, when it comes to shots that contain humans and dinosaurs within the same frame. (To illustrate my meaning: You may recall that part of the reason why Guillermo del Toro was so hesitant to convert Pacific Rim into 3D was because he was worried that it would diminish the effect of skyscraper-high Jaegers juxtaposed against the comparatively puny humans in the film.)
As for the returning Jurassic Park character - the person in question is Dr. Henry Wu, as was played by future Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star BD Wong in Spielberg's original film.
Those who've read the late Michael Crichton's original Jurassic Park novel are familiar with the fact that Wu's role was substantially diminished in the film adaptation - amounting to a single-scene appearance, in fact. Trevorrow discussed that during his IGN interview, as part of his explanation for why the Wu character will be included in Jurassic World:
"... He had a much larger role in the original novel, he was the engineer of this breakthrough in de-extinction. He spent two decades living in Hammond’s shadow, underappreciated. We think there’s more to his story."
Trevorrow's explanation for why principal characters from the previous Jurassic Park installments - like Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) - aren't coming back for the fourth movie is also quite reasonable:
"I know a lot of fans want to see the original characters back. They’re iconic. But I respect those actors too much to shoehorn them into this story for my own sentimental reasons. Jurassic Park isn’t about the bad luck of three people who keep getting thrown into the same situation. The only reason they’d go back to that island is if the screenwriters contrived a reason for them to go..."
Finally, Trevorrow commented on the new characters being played by Pratt and Howard (which gels with what's been reported in the past):
"[Pratt's] a classic hero in a very modern context. He’s the guy who will get you through the jungle alive – but like Malcolm, Grant and Sattler, he’s an expert in a scientific field that’s connected to our story. The character allows us to explore some new ideas about our relationship with these animals, without losing the humor and sense of adventure. He’s a great contrast for Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, who starts off very corporate, very controlled. Until the running and screaming starts. Then they need each other."
All in all, some fresh blood working on both sides of the camera - combined with an approach that expands on the mythos of the original Jurassic Park movie and yet, at the same time, progresses the over-arching narrative forward - could be just what this 20 + year-old franchise needs, in order to be competitive in the current age of Hollywood tentpoles.
Be sure and let us know if you found what Trevorrow had to offer about Jurassic World to be encouraging (or discouraging) news, in the comments section.
Jurassic World opens in 2D and 3D theaters in the U.S. on June 12th, 2015.