After more than a decade of bizarre rumors and wild speculation concerning what Jurassic Park 4 could be about (dinosaurs with weapons were mentioned, at one point), a fourth installment in the lucrative sci-fi franchise does seem increasingly likely to happen now. While Steven Spielberg has made it clear that he won't direct the new dino movie, he is already committed as a producer (along with Kathleen Kennedy).
Spielberg has spent some two years working with screenwriter Mark Protosevich (The Cell, Thor) on the story for a fourth Jurassic Park film. However, when last we heard from Kennedy, the actual scripting process had yet to get underway.
Deadline is reporting that Universal has recruited husband-wife writing duo Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to pen the screenplay for JP4. The pair stepped into the spotlight with last year's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and were originally expected to handle screenwriting duties on the followup (titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). Since the next Planet of the Apes movie is instead being written by Scott Z. Burns, that frees up Jaffa and Silver to begin work on a fourth Jurassic Park now.
All things considered, this news reads as a mixed blessing. Jaffa and Silver have already proven capable of helping to rejuvenate a cash cow that's run dry; on the other side of that coin, their script for the Planet of the Apes requel (rebooting prequel) was the most-widely criticized aspect of the film (read our review, for more on that).
When we spoke to Jurassic Park III director Joe Johnston last year, he said JP4 will draw from "the history of the first trilogy, but it spins it off in a completely different direction." Essentially, the film will attempt to re-invent the Jurassic Park franchise - much like the Apes requel pumped new life into the Planet of the Apes series - only, by moving forward, not backwards, in time. Hiring on Jaffa and Silver to pen JP4 makes sense then, given their most recent success.
The last two installments in the Jurassic Park series resulted in dwindling returns, on both the financial side and the general critical reception; that makes its easy to be leery about JP4. Moreover, as mentioned before, Jaffa and Silver's previous sci-fi efforts (including, The Relic) have been criticized for featuring thinly-sketched human characters and serviceable, but under-whelming sci-fi elements - much like the past two JP movies, in particular.
Still, there are plenty of moviegoers out there interested in seeing the Jurassic Park series continue (this writer included). So, here's to hoping the writers on JP4 - and whoever signs on to direct - can instill new life into the sputtering machine that is this "humans vs. dinosaurs" franchise.
We'll continue to keep you updated on Jurassic Park 4 as the story develops.