BREAKING NEWS: Colin Trevorrow, director of the upcoming sixth installment in the Jurassic Park film series Jurassic World: Dominion, confirmed today that the film will feature updated creature designs in the form of fully-feathered human beings.
“The science is constantly changing, and with the Jurassic movies as the public’s main source of information about these popular creatures, we decided that it was best to change with the science,” Trevorrow said in a press conference in Los Angeles, California early this morning. “Of course, the public is probably used to the depiction of humans without any feathers at all, and that’s going to be difficult to get past. The old creature design is an important part of the cultural image most people have of humans, especially anyone who grew up in the 1990s when the films were first being released. In fact, the first time many kids saw a human on-screen was in 1993’s Jurassic Park, so it’s understandable that this is the image of humans they’ll always have with them. But this is a new generation, and we have an opportunity to introduce them to the concept of humans in an entirely different way.”
Paleontological adviser Dr. Jack Horner adds, “It’s impossible to understate the cultural impact that the Jurassic movies have on the public’s perception of paleontology and dinosaurs. When we take creative liberties with these films, they end up being replicated by other pop culture until they’re seen universally. Of course, that’s happened with the dinosaurs in the film too; the idea that Dilophosaurus was venomous, the entire appearance of Velociraptor, or the idea that Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus were inherently rivals in real life are commonly seen in plenty of movies, video games, and other forms of media. Since 1993, we’ve seen the depiction of featherless humans crop up in a number of movies, obviously based on the design first introduced in Jurassic Park. Off the top of my head, I can recall humans being shown without feathers in animated movies such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and even live-action films like Batman Begins and Mean Girls. This depiction even worked its way into classic movies that nearly everyone has seen. Look at Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca…every single human you see is clearly based on the feather-free creatures invented for Jurassic Park.”
For those who haven’t watched any of these films since Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel was adapted for the silver screen, we have a brief recap. In 1993’s Jurassic Park, an eccentric human billionaire, John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough), invites scientists (who are also humans) to a remote island resort to witness the marvel of de-extinction. The humans in this movie, of course, were shown without feathers, mostly due to the lack of paleontological data to suggest otherwise. Nonetheless, the film was a groundbreaking step forward in the portrayal of humans, introducing the public to the idea that they were warm-blooded and active creatures. A sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, was released in 1997, in which Jurassic Park survivor Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) returns for another island escapade. He, along with the other human characters, stays entirely featherless in this sequel. 2001 saw the release of Jurassic Park ///, which brings back the character Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill); like Malcolm before him, he is shown without any feathers, though by that time paleontologists had uncovered new evidence regarding the presence of feathers in the fossil record.
More than a decade later, Jurassic World released in the summer of 2015, beginning a new trilogy and setting records at the box office. During production, paleontological advisers expressed dismay and even fury that the creature designs were not updated to reflect the changes in scientific knowledge that had accumulated in the intervening fourteen years. Similar complaints were aimed at 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The new trilogy follows the story of corporate-professional-turned-animal-rights-activist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) as she and her romantic interest, animal trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), navigate the changes coming to a world they now share with life forms brought back from the dead.
“These updates are really, honestly exciting,” Howard said in an exclusive interview today. Her character will, in the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion, be portrayed with a full-body covering of feathers. “Jurassic is really about the ways we adapt to dramatic changes in our world, on the personal and global scale…and now, with the changing character designs for the new movie, we’re going to be living through this real-world change in our knowledge.”
How will this film strive to explain the sudden, unexpected change in the appearance of its numerous human characters? Actor Chris Pratt gives some hints: “Well, life’s always evolving, and we influence it as it goes. I can’t tell you what Colin’s got in mind to explain this one…he wouldn’t be happy if I spoiled it! [laughs] But what I can tell you is that it’s fantastic, it’s a really fantastic story. The DNA of the franchise is changing too, it’s something we’ve never seen before.”
“We’re hoping that this will totally change the way the general public thinks of humans,” Horner continues. “Back in 1993, we showed the public that humans weren’t just sluggish, swamp-dwelling beasts, but fascinating animals with an active lifestyle and maybe even descendants living in the modern world today! Now, we have a chance to do it again, by showing audiences that humans were entirely covered in feathers.”
“This will make Jurassic not only entertaining, but scientifically valuable,” adds Trevorrow. “It’s what Steven [Spielberg] and I have been talking about for years, and we decided that now is the time to make this step forward.”
Members of the paleontological community, both amateur and longtime professional, have voiced their opinions about the change as well.
“This is…well, it’s something,” says Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. “We’ve been begging the studio to update its creature designs to reflect new scientific knowledge, and they’ve…taken some kind of action. We asked for feathers. We’re getting them. I guess.” He then paced the room in which the interview took place, muttering indistinctly to himself and shaking his head.
Jurassic World: Dominion will release in theaters on June 11, 2021. It is scheduled to be followed by a third trilogy of films, starting with Jurassic Universe: Rise of the Stegoceratops in 2025 and its two currently-unnamed sequels planned to be released at three-year intervals following. Details on the third trilogy are currently scarce, but it has been described as a “slow-burn romantic horror story” with “timely” social commentary elements.