Jurassic World is shaping up to be one of this summer’s most promising big-screen blockbusters, but how exactly will the fourth installment in the franchise birthed by Steven Spielberg‘s groundbreaking 1993 smash dinosaur adventure Jurassic Park address the events of the lackluster (but fun in their own way) sequels The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001)? Short answer: it won’t.
According to a recent interview with Yahoo! Movies, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow claims that his entry in the series won’t acknowledge the second and third movies. In the world of Jurassic World, they never even happened.
Of course, Jurassic World isn’t a mere re-creation of Jurassic Park; it’s a direct sequel to the original, set some 20 years after the events of Spielberg’s film. (According to Trevorrow, the previous sequels aren’t being written out of continuity so much as placed to the side, as they both unfolded on a different island.) In that time, a functioning theme park has been constructed on Isla Nubar, overseen by operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and employing hundreds of staffers, including velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt).
I can see why Trevorrow and screenwriters Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Derek Connolly would want their movie to be the real follow-up to Jurassic Park instead of the two middle sequels. They were well-made, but lacked the heart and soul of the original; even the mighty Spielberg was merely going through the motions when he made The Lost World. There was only so much at the time that could be done, as far as story and visual effects go, with the concept of genetically-engineered dinosaurs going on a rampage, killing people, and leaving their teeth and claw marks on civilized society. Jurassic Park III ended with some pterodactyls flying off into the sunset far away from the confines of Isla Nublar, but obviously Trevorrow’s film isn’t going to pay that dangling plot threat any mind.
It’s laudable that the makers of Jurassic World want it to stand on its own while honoring the legacy of Spielberg’s original. The last time an entry in a major studio franchise decided to ignore previous sequels was Superman Returns, but though that movie succeeded somewhat as a love letter to the first Superman movie, it failed to establish its own identity. I hope Trevorrow has better luck than Bryan Singer did with Superman.
Jurassic World stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Greer, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, BD Wong, and Irrfan Khan, and will open in theaters on June 12, 2015.