Because of the enormous differences between the various Jurassic Park media, it is essential to separate one work from another. Even though they are all in the same franchise and share many common elements, each work also has many things which make it different and unique.
Michael Crichton’s novels:
Though the novels bear many if not the most similarities to the films of any other medium in the Jurassic Park franchise, they are not held within the same canon as the films because there are too many altered events, different species of dinosaurs than in the films, different characters and differing personalities of characters that are in both the film and the novel, differing island geography, and inconsistent dates of certain events. As an example, in the film adaptation, John Hammond lives while Robert Muldoon is killed by a Velociraptor while in the novel, Hammond is killed while Muldoon lives. Other notable differences are that, in the novel, the first dinosaurs that the tour group encounters is Apatosaurus while in the films it is Brachiosaurus; the geography of Isla Sorna as presented in the original novel was not transferred to the film adaptation of The Lost World, and an entirely new version of the island was created instead; and John Hammond’s demeanor in the novel is much darker and avaricious than in the film, in which he is portrayed as a much brighter and more likable person, similar to Walt Disney.
The fact of the matter is that, while Michael Crichton’s novels are the original source of Jurassic Park material as well as among his most famous works of all, the films are only loosely based on them; the vast differences to character appearance and design, as well as omitted scenes from both novels which were adapted in different films–for example, Hammond’s death in the Jurassic Park novel being transferred to Dieter Stark in the film adaptation of The Lost World–are surely testament to this fact.
If these obvious differences were not enough, there is even more substantial proof: Rick Carter, the Production Designer for both Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, indicates the differences between the two mediums early in the Making of Jurassic Park book: “The park is not as finished as it is in the book,” noted Carter, “The movie is probably nine months or a year earlier than when the book takes place [in it’s construction phase].” (Duncan & Shay, 45). This in and of itself implies that the movie is an entirely different entity from the novels, and works as confirmation of such. Rick Carter is not the only one that feels this way, either.
For the Beyond Jurassic Park DVD, Michael Crichton himself was interviewed and discussed many things, including continuity separation. Originally, in regards to making a second film, Crichton remarked to Steven Spielberg, “I’ll do a book and you can do whatever you want in the movie.” (Crichton, “The Jurassic Park Phenomenon: A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton”) This shows that the films, even at that early of a stage in their development, were indeed considered different from the original works. Furthermore, Crichton remarked during the interview on the differences between the books and films: “There’s a practical aspect that they really are different media.” (Crichton, “The Jurassic Park Phenomenon: A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton”) This does, indeed, confirm that the novels are in a separate continuity from the films altogether.
JP: Adventures Novelette Series & Junior Novelizations:
The Junior Novelization series is based off of final scripts of the films. While the final script fundamentally is the same, in terms of plot and events, as what we see in the film there are some few discrepancies in these Junior Novelizations from the transfer that attempt to overlap the film with their own events. These, like the Jurassic Park comics, imply an alternative take on the events of the JP films and can even reference and offer insights into the film’s finalized versions at some point before the major edits were made for pacing or even continuity. Outside of this, the Junior Novelizations are meant to be children books for young-adult reading level and are not accepted into the film canon.
As for Eric Kirby’s Adventures these do not seem to be canon, but elements can always be re-included into the main canon at some point. Even though they are looked at as expanding the film series, they were meant to be children’s books meant for a young-adult reading level. We have placed them next to the Junior Novelizations of the films at this moment in the project until we know more, but for now they seem to be disregarded by Universal.
Topps Jurassic Park Comics:
The JP Comics series coincided with Jurassic Park the movie based off by a adaptation of a final copy of the script. The film-adaptations are depending off a close-to-final draft that has some differences to it’s film counter-part and attempts to overlap the events, with it’s own. The artistry behind the comics also counters what we saw in the film. The comic had several spin-offs that featured the return of Robert Muldoon, BioSyn stealing Velociraptors off of Isla Nublar going awry and ending up in the hands of a Columbian Drug Dealer, and the mysterious Green Flame which is a nod to the “Green Lantern” (source?). From what we can tell is that all elements involved in the comics at present are seemingly excluded from the film canon even though there’s some really interesting one-offs that very well could be included as supplemental to the S/F continuity family. Specifically, “Return to Jurassic Park #9 – Jurassic Jam” could serve as supplemental prequel to the S/F continuity family, but that may be wishful thinking on our lead editor’s part.
To further this, there is no acknowledgement of any of the expeditions from the comics within the films themselves either by comments made by recurring characters that re-appeared in the film series (Example: John Hammond, Dr. Ian Malcolm, Dr. Alan Grant, and Dr. Ellie Sattler). While this doesn’t work as a confirmation of the events not happening (the characters could have simply not been asked), but the fact is the comics do remain outside of the canon in regards to practicality of story and artistic license. To further, many dinosaurs were added to the InGen species list for Isla Nublar without explanation, this contradicts what was seen in the film. This series has been granted it’s own canon due to the massive artistic license taken by it’s creators and the lack of acknowledgement from the film makers in future stories.
“Next, Schreck revealed that “Jurassic Park: Redemption” has no relation to the Topps “Jurassic Park” comics released in the nineties.”
Redemption and likely the other IDW comics are considered as their own canon apart from all the other Jurassic Park comics that had been released before by Topps as well as from the film canon given the elements not applied to future films or adapted from the comics for the films. It acknowledges the main events of each of the films, but changes the relationship between Peter Ludlow and John Hammond from the way it was intended as well as having other miscellaneous canonical issues. Alexis “Lex” Murphy is now Alexa. Dodgson does not, apparently, work for BioSyn (or rather an unknown entity like he did in the first film) but is more of a saboteur for hire. There are also faults in the story itself, and plot holes that were never filled by the end of the story. Source for this information comes from here. Outside of this it follows suit of the Topps canon with no overt elements are included in the S/F continuity at present.
Universal Studios Jurassic Park Rides:
This universe is a bridge to our own universe to make the rides and events in the JP series to seem more realistic. We can count part of it that references the films for the movie canon and yet we can’t count the rest when it comes down to the rider experience with us, the ride-goers and fans involved in the adventure. The rides do indeed serve as a spin-off of the movie series and anything in reference to the films is taken from here with some weight and consideration. Information pertaining to the movies may be withdrawn here somewhat safely without much worry of contradiction with the films unless there is some unaccounted for elements yet to be discovered.
Spielberg was involved with the rides, but when it comes down to the rider experience, animals created specifically for the Orlando or Hollywood attractions, or the overall story for the ride’s creation it cannot be counted as canon events for the films, as no movie has acknowledged a park in Orlando or Hollywood. If there was something here that would contradict anything in the movies then the rides would be off the list entirely of safe sources for the films. Also, worthy of a note is that both rides contradict each other when it comes to rider experience itself as key moments within the ride are different at the Orlando, Hollywood, and even the International theme parks.
Kenner/Hasbro Jurassic Park Toys:
Great for play, but not entirely accurate to the films and novels. However, there are some nods to the design of the T.rex in Return to Jurassic Park #9 showing a scheme similar to the toy itself produced by Kenner colloquially known as the “Red Rex” by the fandom. According to the toy series Nublar has 23 species inhabiting the island while in the movie and film there are only 15. That’s not counting what the original Topps Comics put forth! A fair amount of “fluff” was added to these toys for the value of play. It may be possible that some of the toy lines (specifically the original Jurassic Park Series 1 and 2 with Dino Trackers and Evil Raiders and Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect) have a functional continuity within themselves though.
Jurassic Park: The Game, Trespasser, & Other Jurassic Park Video Games:
From our limited understanding Jurassic Park: The Game and presumably other recent games since Trespasser (with exception of quite a few as well!) are included as soft-canon. So simply this means some elements of JPTG are canonical and we should know more as Trevorrow’s trilogy is planned out in the coming years. Word of this comes from Colin Trevorrow himself about the subject as he served as direct on Jurassic World along with the writer and executive producer on the final two films in the new trilogy. With JPTG we noticed that Jurassic World retconned some details about Isla Nublar that the game itself altered. Specifically the Visitors Center ruins found in Jurassic World do not have the damage inflicted from the JPTG. Elements of JPTG have been cemented into the canon via Jurassic World’s viral marketing with the Masrani site listing the name of Mount Sibo (used in the game) and Nublar having an indigenous tribe on it (another aspect of the game included). Other inclusion with the Dinosaur Protection Group site as well as other viral marketing sites. Outside of Jurassic World and when JPTG was being made, Universal seemed to insist it from what the making of material behind the game and commentary indicates. What inconsistencies that are present can easily be taken care of easily via retroactive continuity, the same for Jurassic World in any case with showing the Visitors Center and their viral marketing attempts as for the remaining two movies as well any possible supplemental information created for the series.
Interview Question: What steps did Telltale take to ensure an authentic Jurassic Park experience? Was there any collaboration or discussion with the filmmakers or film studios?
Kevin Boyle: Delivering an authentic Jurassic Park experience has always been a top priority for the team. We worked closely with Universal, and found we had very similar ideas about what’s best for the license. The story of our game is new, but it’s woven into the events and canon of Jurassic Park. We worked hard at getting the look and sounds of the dinosaurs exactly right. The dinosaur sounds are so iconic, I was dreading the thought of recreating them. Thankfully, Universal delivered an amazing volume of the original dinosaur sound effects. Another big step towards an authentic experience was stocking the team with fanatics. We’ve got more than enough super-fans here at Telltale to stand up for what’s right for an authentic Jurassic Park experience. (source)
Trespasser while pegged to be the “digital sequel to The Lost World: Jurassic Park” is more of a movie/novel hybrid of sorts and thus is probably the messiest of elements to be considered soft canon. For instance, Trespasser says JP took place in 1989 instead of 1993. In TLW, which is confirmed as being in 1997 according to Trespasser, that the incident at Nublar was 4 years ago. If JP took place in 1989, according to Trespasser, then logic dictates that 4 years later would be having TLW take place in 1993. Clearly we know TLW did not take place in 1993 because Jurassic Park did. There are some other inconsistencies with the maps of Isla Sorna as well, the Isla Sorna map pictured in TLW differs the one pictured in Trespasser.
One element that has been made soft canon from Trespasser was Hammond’s middle name of “Alfred” and birthdate from 1928 (in conflict to a 1913 date included in the background of the Jurassic World film itself) were included on the Masrani viral marketing for Jurassic World though. Speculatively, it’s possible the events from the game itself happened in the film’s canon timeline, but the experience itself you have in the game is not canon because of the differences. Ultimately we don’t know how much and which elements are included in the canon, if anything additional is at all even. Trespasser did have a tid-bit of involvement from Spielberg on one of the puzzles, but it cannot be considered in the Spielberg/Film Canon or the Crichton/Novel Canon because of the hybridization elements. Trespasser mentions the San Diego incident even and that did not take place in the novel universe. In conclusion, while it is pegged to be the “the digital sequel to The Lost World: Jurassic Park” in the marketing it simply causes too many issues in the canon in dates, character histories, island, and has a controversial relationship due to the irreconcilable differences it makes. For the purpose of this project it is considered in its own canon, Trespasser/Canon.
While a lot of the games are either retelling a version of the movies we’re under the impression that these tie-in video games are considered non-canon for all intents and purposes for this project. That isn’t to say that elements cannot or will not be included in the future from these games though however.
How It All Comes Together And Is Organized
So with all that said we’re going to introduce the guidelines of the canon, how each were rated and weighed in conjunction with each other as well as what it was based on specifically from our inferences from the data of the media and Crichton’s wishes for it all to be considered separate:
C-Canon – Crichton Canon/Novel Canon. This is the novel canon only. The only reason this exists is due to the novels being the “starting” medium. Considered the Alpha universe as it’s the first one made and therefore the source material. The novels have really no “supplements” to them whatsoever.
S/F-Canon – Spielberg Canon (Film Canon). This encompasses the films, cast & crew interviews, official media such as Making of Books and other various movie-oriented sources. Spielberg or Film Canon is where all the films and their supplements originate from. They are mostly their own beast as they have an entirely different continuity from what is read in the novels and obviously what is seen on screen. So what sources are considered to be film canon, S-Canon. or Spielberg Canon?
1.) The films themselves obviously!
2.) Cutscenes eliminated due to pacing and NOT continuity – What this is in regards to is scene remnants or scenes that were originally meant to be included but were cut due to run-time constraints and would have only furthered the story. In order for a cutscene to be considered canon it must be true for the media to be present of this scene in various places including, but not limited to: Screen capture from cut scene, film clip showing the scene, and lastly audio file. Audio files are suspect and can be forged however, so it would pend review. Examples of this include: Ellie grabbing Leaf, Ellie and Muldoon walking to power shed, extended Grant and kids through park walking, some version of the board room scene involving Ludlow from the second film, meeting with Roland and Ajay, etc would and could all be considered within valid canon as the reasons for their outright elimination were not due to continuity, but rather shortening of run-time. The board room scene is the only one that has details recanted due or altered due to the progression of the films starting with Jurassic World. While cutscenes are often disputed and debatable, it is still adhered to in our continuity timelines due to the reasons behind the elimination. Our goal is to keep it simple for scenes where filming existed of, but was ultimately dropped due to pacing. Conversations altered between script to the final cut of the film however, are not included as cutscenes because a revision was made for the final inclusion in the film itself which has priority.
3.) Supplemental Material this includes The Making of Books, the RPG sourcebook from The Lost World: Jurassic Park featuring the diary entries of the characters (and not the game contained within), featurettes in the films, making-of documentaries, Interviews from the cast/crew of the film, The props (If it’s seen in the film it’s canon and if it’s not in the film it’s not canon.). Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery art. (Similar to acceptance like the props – if it isn’t exact to the film it is not canon), the Jurassic Park Traveling Exhibits (they basically explain the science in the films, but bring the props to the forefront as well as the movie dinosaurs too), Official Souvenir Magazines (Official Movie Trading cards fall under here, where applicable and so long as this doesn’t override the film), The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park/The Lost World Scrapbook (Published by Scholastic), The Viral Sites produced at the time for the new Jurassic World trilogy, The Jurassic Park Institute: Dinosaur Field Guide (Some information pertaining to animals referenced in the film) and cold hard paleontological fact (We’re talking dinosaurs here)!
4.) The traveling exhibits, the Rides (S/F-Ride) and the Jurassic Newsletters – The newsletters are an ambiguous canon at best, not very reliable and should be considered last. It is muddled with hybrid novel/film canon; however, the film events, workings, etc can be extracted so long as they do not contradict the finished product seen on screen. Only events of course referencing the movies, events, animal behavior, or places from the film can be layered in where they appear supplemental and not contradictory. The rides are a tricky subject as they are set into a “metaverse” like the newsletters where with bridging the gap in our world. What can be trusted exactly? The props from the film you see of course, the behavior of the movie dinosaurs, and some of the events from Isla Nublar that is discussed on the rides.
5.) Jurassic Park: The Game (S/F-TG) canon – JP:TG or elements of serve as an extension of this canon. NBC/Universal’s partnership with TellTale Games indicated they wanted a canonical extension to the film series. Come Jurassic World this changed as Colin Trevorrow has confirmed elements of the game are merely soft-canon. So bits are, bits aren’t. Which ones? All will be revealed in time basically. The soft-canon elements have stretched somewhat over to Trespasser as well even though for the purposes of this project we have considered it separate from the main film continuity.
CB-Canon – Comic Book canon, functional continuity that alters the events of the films due to being made off of final script revisions differing enough to not match the film closely. New evidence from IDW suggests that the Topps comics are in their own continuity).
JN-Canon – Novelette Canon, functional continuity that alters the events of the films due to being made off of final script revisions differing enough to not match the film closely.
U-Canon – Non-canon elements such as games & toys with no functional continuity that adheres into the categories listed above or canon where hybridization occurs (Film x novel hybridization most specifically). As noted earlier, it may be possible that some of the toy lines (specifically the original Jurassic Park Series 1 and 2 lines and Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect) have a functional continuity themselves though.
Every “universe” or “canon” deserves to be looked at almost entirely separately instead of supplemental to the films and novels. A lot of time the other material have different events, make attempts at overlapping the film’s own storylines with novel elements, time lines/chronology, characters, dinosaurs, and even island structure contained in their material while also keeping similarities itself. Crichton himself considered it all very separate and self-contained from one another except for the elements where it is not and borrowed from his blue prints in terms of science or even specific scenes cherry-picked from the novels for the film format.