History, Legacy & Showmanship

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Cinema: Remembering “Jurassic Park” on its 25th Anniversary

July 18, 2018 - 1:13 pm   |   by
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“It takes a filmmaker as deeply imaginative, but also technically savvy as Steven Spielberg to orchestrate and bring [all of the elements] together into a cohesive whole that works with his intricate vision as a storyteller, in both moments and big picture. There are other filmmakers who would have made wonderful adaptations of the Crichton book, no doubt, but the project landed in the right, highly skilled hands, heart and imagination.” — Steven Awalt, author of Steven Spielberg and Duel: The Making of a Film Career

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the silver anniversary of the release of Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg’s popular and franchise-inspiring adaptation of Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough and which showcased groundbreaking and award-winning visual effects and audio. [Read on here...]

Spielberg’s tale of “science eventuality” opened to record-breaking box-office twenty-five years ago this summer, and for the occasion The Bits features a compilation of statistics and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context, plus passages from vintage film reviews, a reference/historical listing of the movie’s digital sound presentations, and, finally, an interview segment with a trio of Spielberg authorities who discuss the film’s impact and legacy.

Director Steven Spielberg

 

JURASSIC NUMBER$

  • 1 = Box-office rank among the Jurassic franchise (tickets sold and adjusted for inflation)
  • 1 = Peak all-time box-office chart position (worldwide)
  • 1 = Rank among top-earning films of 1993 (calendar year)
  • 1 = Rank among top-earning films of 1993 (summer season)
  • 1 = Rank among Universal’s all-time top-earning films at close of original run
  • 2 = Peak all-time box-office chart position (domestic)
  • 3 = Box-office rank among films directed by Spielberg (adjusted for inflation)
  • 3 = Number of Academy Awards
  • 3 = Number of weeks top-grossing movie (weeks 1-3)
  • 3 = Rank among top-earning movies of the 1990s
  • 5 = Number of films in Jurassic franchise
  • 5 = Number of years holding #1 spot on list of all-time top-earning films
  • 10 = Number of days to gross $100 million*
  • 16 = Number of months between theatrical release and home video release
  • 17 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing films (adjusted for inflation)
  • 24 = Number of days to gross $200 million**
  • 28 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing movies (worldwide)
  • 29 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing movies (domestic)
  • 68 = Number of days to gross $300 million**
  • 71 = Number of weeks film was in theatrical release
  • 876 = Number of digital sound presentations during first-run**
  • 2,404 = Number of theaters playing the movie during opening week
  • 2,565 = Peak number of theaters simultaneously showing the movie (week of July 9-15)
  • $24.98 = Suggested retail price of initial home video release (VHS)
  • $29.98 = Suggested retail price of initial home video release (CLV LaserDisc)
  • $74.98 = Suggested retail price of initial home video release (CAV LaserDisc)
  • $19,561 = Opening weekend per-screen-average
  • $1.5 million = Amount paid to acquire rights to Crichton’s novel
  • $3.1 million = Opening weekend box-office gross (June 10 sneak previews)**
  • $17.6 million = Highest single-day gross (June 12)**
  • $45.4 million = Domestic box-office gross (2013 3D re-release)
  • $47.1 million = Opening weekend box-office gross (June 11-13)**
  • $50.1 million = Opening weekend box-office gross (June 11-13 + June 10 sneaks)**
  • $63.0 million = Production cost
  • $71.1 million = International box-office gross (2013 3D re-release)
  • $81.7 million = Opening week box-office gross (June 10-17)**
  • $109.7 million = Production cost (adjusted for inflation)
  • $316.6 million = Box-office gross during summer season (June 10 - Sept 6)
  • $357.1 million = Domestic box-office gross (original release)
  • $402.5 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross
  • $555.6 million = International box-office gross (original release)**
  • $626.7 million = Cumulative international box-office gross
  • $670.7 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)
  • $912.7 million = Worldwide box-office gross (original release)**
  • $1.1 billion = Cumulative international box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)
  • $1.1 billion = Cumulative worldwide box-office gross
  • $1.7 billion = Cumulative worldwide box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)

*tied industry record
**established new industry record

 

Jurassic Park

 

A SAMPLING OF PASSAGES FROM REVIEWS

“The dinosaurs of Jurassic Park live and breathe. They will astonish you — and scare you. That’s why Steven Spielberg’s $51 million film is a rip-roaring hit, the most relentlessly exciting summer adventure since his Raiders of the Lost Ark back in 1981.” — Jack Garner, Gannett News Service

Jurassic Park puts us in the hands of a master movie-maker who knows how to manipulate every last shred of suspense and wonder from us. By the end of the movie, you’re left exhausted but exhilarated. It’s that good.” — Marylynn Uricchio, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“The greatly anticipated Jurassic Park, it turns out, is the poor little rich kid of this summer’s movies. Everything that money can buy has been bought, and what an estimated $60 million can purchase is awfully impressive. But even in Hollywood there are things a blank check can’t guarantee and the lack of those keeps this film from being more than one hell of an effective parlor trick.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“You won’t believe your eyes. Jurassic Park is colossal entertainment — the eye-popping, mind-bending, kick-out-the-jams thrill ride of the summer and probably the year.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“On paper, this story is tailor-made for Mr. Spielberg’s talents, combining the scares of Jaws with the high-tech, otherworldly romance of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and of course adding the challenge of creating the dinosaurs themselves. Yet once it meets reality, Jurassic Park changes. It becomes less crisp on screen than it was on the page, with much of the enjoyable jargon either mumbled confusingly or otherwise thrown away. Sweetening the human characters, eradicating most of their evil motives and dispensing with a dinosaur-bombing ending (so the material is now sequel-friendly), Mr. Spielberg has taken the bite out of this story. Luckily, this film’s most interesting characters have teeth to spare.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“[T]he special-effects wizards worked their magic and the result is beyond belief. Jurassic Park is a blockbuster in the best sense of the word. From the opening scene to the closing credits, it grabs the audience and holds it in thrall, making us believe in things that can’t possibly be real… yet.” — Nanciann Cherry, The (Toledo) Blade

“If Spielberg’s Jurassic zoo is in every way remarkable, however, his human actors are left with sketchy, comic-book characterizations and plot lines that fray and dangle.” — Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Steven Spielberg’s spectacular Jurassic Park has raptors and brachiosaurs and more, oh-my! than any movie in recent memory. It’s a sinfully entertaining, state-of-the-art summer blockbuster whose myriad nonstop thrills easily exceed its mega-hype.” — Eleanor Ringel, The Atlanta Constitution

“Spielberg’s gonzo special effects flick seems to put dinosaurs right in the multiplex. So real you may never feel comfortable in a toilet stall again. But scary? Nah, not if you’re over 10. ” — Judy Gerstel, Detroit Free Press

“Forgive the relentless promotion, the advance publicity, the ’action figures’ turning up in toy stores, and the dinosaurs you’ll be seeing everywhere for the next few months. Get over feeling bombarded, because if you don’t you’ll be missing one great monster movie.” — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

“The dinosaurs in this monster of all monster movies are nothing if not awesome — and they have to be, because the rest of the movie, while frequently suspenseful, is disappointingly routine. If only the humans were as impressive. — Jeff Shannon, The Seattle Times

“Director Steven Spielberg is back at the top of his form as master of Hollywood spectacle. He spent tens of millions of dollars on the special effects and spent it so well that you can hardly tell whether you’re seeing a movie or receiving 5,000 jolts of pure Spielbergian movie magic. Jurassic Park combines the wonder of E.T. with all the terrifying thrills of Jaws.” — Bob Fenster, The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic

“In theory, Jurassic Park is Jaws plus Frankenstein: A thrill-ride plot propelled by the most potent movie monsters since Spielberg’s fish swallowed most of Long Island Sound combined with a cautionary tale about the dangers of tampering with nature. In execution, alas, Jurassic Park falls short of delivering either the pulpy, don’t-go-near-the-water thrills of Jaws or Frankenstein’s primal horror of science run amok. Burdened by a clunky script that relies too heavily on mechanical jolts and special effects, and skimpily written characters who amount to nothing more than dinosaur prey, it’s closer to a Gold Card version of a Godzilla movie. Why did these seasoned pros, working with seemingly unlimited sums of money, plow into production with an unpolished script? It’s absolutely baffling. One can only conclude that they were as dumbly transfixed by Stan Winston’s lifelike dinosaurs as the characters are — and poor Laura Dern and Sam Neill are called upon to play open-mouthed awe far too many times for anyone over the age of 12.” — Joanna Connors, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

Jurassic Park will at least disabuse anyone of the idea that it would be fun to share the planet with dinosaurs. Steven Spielberg’s scary and horrific thriller may be one-dimensional and even clunky in story and characterization, but it definitely delivers where it counts, in excitement, suspense and the stupendous realization of giant prehistoric reptiles. Having finally found another set of Jaws worthy of the name, Spielberg and Universal have a monster hit on their hands.” — Todd McCarthy, Variety

“It’s a good thing the effects are so solid, because they have to carry virtually all of the emotional charge of the picture. Where Spielberg was able to supply Jaws and Close Encounters with a powerful psychological subtext, centered on threats and tensions within the nuclear family, Jurassic Park plays largely on the surface, without the resonance that gives meaning to the thrills and turns a well-told adventure yarn into our modern equivalent of mythology.” — Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

Jurassic Park is amazing.” — Richard Corliss, Time

“When young Steven Spielberg was first offered the screenplay for Jaws, he said he would direct the movie on one condition: That he didn’t have to show the shark for the first hour. By slowly building the audience’s apprehension, he felt, the shark would be much more impressive when it finally arrived. He was right. I wish he had remembered that lesson when he was preparing Jurassic Park, his new thriller set in a remote island theme park where real dinosaurs have been grown from long-dormant DNA molecules. The movie delivers all too well on its promise to show us dinosaurs. We see them early and often, and they are indeed a triumph of special effects artistry, but the movie is lacking other qualities that it needs even more, such as a sense of awe and wonderment, and strong human story values.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Jurassic Park is a fun-house with humor, thrills and heart. It has the spine-tingly magic of Steven Spielberg’s best work. Go, tremble and enjoy.” — David Ansen, Newsweek

“Even at his most mechanical, Spielberg brings a sense of wonder to a project, and usually manages to add some wit, too. Thus the theme park in Jurassic Park is the perfect parody of theme parks, down to the Walt-like character played by Attenborough, who appears in a video to introduce a cartoon explaining DNA. Later, when the camera pans the park’s gift shop, you see the very T-shirts, candy and stuffed dinos that Universal will be peddling in ’real’ life for years to come. Yes, it’s cynical. It’s also hilarious.” — Bill Cosford, The Miami Herald

“One of the ironies here is that to make this anti-control-freak movie you’ve got to be a supreme control freak — Spielberg brought this complicated production in ahead of schedule (despite a hurricane) and under budget. It shows. Jurassic Park doesn’t match the heart of Close Encounters of E.T. or Empire of the Sun. With Jurassic Park Spielberg seems to have asked more of himself than to bring to the screen Hollywood’s ultimate theme park ride in the guise of an anti-theme park movie. This he does, riding those special-effects dinosaurs to pay dirt. It’s the work of a great field marshal.” — Jay Carr, The Boston Globe

Jurassic Park

 

THE DTS PRESENTATIONS

Jurassic Park was the first motion picture released in Digital Theater Systems (DTS) and the first batch of theaters to install the system and present Jurassic Park in the format are identified below.

The theaters screening the DTS presentation of Jurassic Park were arguably the best in which to experience the movie and the only way at the time to faithfully hear the movie’s award-winning discrete multichannel audio mix and with incredible sonic clarity.

The playback layout for DTS’s digital audio format was in a 5.1-channel configuration: three discrete screen channels + two discrete surround channels + low-frequency enhancement. Unlike competitor formats, however, which placed their digital audio directly on the film prints, DTS was engineered in a fashion whereby the audio was placed on Compact Disc(s) and synchronized via timecode running along the edge of the image on the 35mm prints.

Jurassic Park DTS CDs

While the DTS timecode was present on each and every print of the movie, discs were shipped only to the theaters that installed the requisite playback equipment. The prints also included a conventional Dolby Stereo analog soundtrack which eliminated the need for multiple print inventory and also served as a secondary audio backup should the digital playback ever fail.

Initially, DTS was offered in two versions: (1) DTS-6, a discrete 6-track (i.e. 5.1) mix and (2) DTS-S, a matrixed, 4-channel Lt-Rt stereo mix. The 6-track presentations, where known, are identified in the listing below with an asterisk. (Eventually, the DTS-S format was discontinued.)

Prior to the release of Jurassic Park in June 1993, there were un-promoted DTS test screenings of some Universal Studios releases including Dr. Giggles and The Public Eye.

In the months leading up to the release of Jurassic Park, director Steven Spielberg issued an explanation to motion picture exhibitors as to why he wanted his movie released with DTS audio.

“I’ve heard what my T-Rex sounds like roaring on 35mm Dolby Stereo, and I’ve heard the same roar produced for DTS equipment.”

Spielberg added:

Raiders of the Lost Ark and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (among others) are two of my films that featured sounds and music in a fashion that, when experienced in 70mm six-track magnetic stereo, was virtually a different experience from when enjoyed in 35mm Dolby Stereo theaters. Only 200 theaters were able to exhibit Close Encounters and Raiders with the sound experience I intended. In that sense, very few moviegoers really received the full, head-on force of both of those films. Now, years later, along comes Jurassic Park — a sound experience you will never forget, available not only in those (premiere) 70mm houses, but now, thanks to DTS, in 35mm theaters that carry this new state-of-the-art equipment.” 

Jurassic Park was at the time the industry’s widest release of a film featuring digital sound, and in this one release DTS vastly exceeded the number of Dolby Digital, SDDS and Cinema Digital Sound installations and with it launched a movie sound revolution. (The DTS competitors used, initially, a different strategy on their implementation by primarily targeting premiere venues in major markets.)

The listing includes the DTS engagements of Jurassic Park that commenced June 11th, 1993. (Some theaters began their run with sneak preview screenings on the 10th.) The listing does not include any mid-run DTS installations, move-over or subsequent bookings, nor does it include any international presentations or any of the movie’s thousands of standard analog presentations. (The world premiere of Jurassic Park was held June 9th, 1993, at the Uptown in Washington, DC.)

For the sake of stylistic consistency and clarity, some liberties have been taken in regard to some of the generically named cinemas in which the movie played. If, for instance, such a venue were located in a shopping center, effort has been made to identify the venue in this work whenever possible by the name of the shopping center even if, technically, such wasn’t the actual name of the venue.

Typically the total number of screens in a multiplex have been cited here even though in numerous cases a “complex” consisted of screens spread out among separate buildings.

In numerous cases two (or more) prints of Jurassic Park were shipped to theaters to increase the number of screenings of the movie per day and to allow a greater variety of start times. In a few of these cases the movie was shown in DTS on more than one screen but such cases are cited only once in the listing. Typically any multi-screen bookings were in DTS only on one of the screens and in analog Dolby Stereo on the other screen(s).

In a few cases, a city name has changed since 1993 (due to annexation, incorporation or a redrawing of municipality boundaries) and effort has been made to list these instances according to the city or recognized name at the time of the Jurassic Park engagement.

So, for historical reference, the first-run North American theaters that screened Jurassic Park with DTS audio were….

*6-Track DTS (any non-asterisked entries presumably screened the Lt-Rt version of DTS)
**Version Francaise (Le Parc Jurassique)

Jurassic Park DTS logo Jurassic Park DTS logo

 

ALABAMA

  • Birmingham — Carmike’s Colonnade 10
  • Birmingham — Cobb’s Festival 12
  • Birmingham — Cobb’s Wildwood 14
  • Hoover — Cobb’s Galleria 10*
  • Huntsville — Cobb’s Madison Square 12
  • Midfield — Cobb’s Midfield 6
  • Montgomery — Martin’s Eastdale 8

ALBERTA

  • Calgary — Cineplex Odeon’s North Hill*
  • Calgary — Cineplex Odeon’s Southland 4
  • Edmonton — Cineplex Odeon’s Eaton Centre 9
  • Edmonton — Cineplex Odeon’s West Mall 8*
  • Edmonton — Cineplex Odeon’s Westmount 4
  • Red Deer — Landmark’s Uptown 4
  • Sherwood Park — Landmark’s Sword & Shield 4

ARIZONA

  • Chandler — AMC’s Laguna Village 10
  • Glendale — Harkins’ Bell Tower 8
  • Mesa — AMC’s Fiesta Village 6
  • Phoenix — Harkins’ Arcadia 8
  • Phoenix — Harkins’ Metro Center Triplex
  • Phoenix — Harkins’ Southwest 8
  • Scottsdale — Harkins’ Fashion Square 7*
  • Scottsdale — UA’s Scottsdale Pavilions 11
  • Tempe — Harkins’ Cornerstone 6
  • Tucson — Cineplex Odeon’s El Dorado 6*
  • Tucson — Syufy’s Century Park 12*

ARKANSAS

  • Fayetteville — Malco’s Razorback 6
  • Little Rock — UA’s Cinema City 7*
  • North Little Rock — Carmike’s Cinema 7

BRITISH COLUMBIA

  • Burnaby — Cineplex Odeon’s Station Square 5
  • Coquitlam — Cineplex Odeon’s Coquitlam 6
  • North Vancouver — Cineplex Odeon’s Park & Tilford 6
  • Vancouver — Cineplex Odeon’s Granville 7*
  • Vancouver — Cineplex Odeon’s Oakridge Triplex*

[On to Page 2]

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