It's taken Steven Spielberg over a decade to resurrect the Jurassic Park franchise. In the wake of 2001's Jurassic Park III, it seemed a fourth film would never become a reality. With various directors, stars and writers jumping on and off board with alarming frequency, hatching a script for Jurassic Park 4 appeared to be as difficult as hatching actual dinosaurs.
Of course, it all worked out in the end, with Jurassic World hitting screens this week (check out our review here). But what about all those years of rewrites and actor meetings that ended up going nowhere? What were the stories that got ditched and who were the stars who almost went up against Velociraptors? We take a look back at the Jurassic Park 4s that almost were...
Joe Johnston's Jurassic Park 4
It may have seemed like the ending of Jurassic Park III was hinting toward a sequel, as a flock of Pteranodons fly away from the island, but director Joe Johnston says that was never the case.
I wanted to end the movie with a shot of these creatures being beautiful and elegant, but it's not actually a set up for the sequel, he told EW in 2001. I know it looks like they're going off to nest in Vancouver or something, but Steven Spielberg actually has an idea for number four that doesn't involve the Pteranodons. It takes the Jurassic Park thing in a whole new direction.
Though that new direction remains shrouded in mystery to this day, Spielberg talked about working on a fourth Jurassic Park in 2002, revealing a few tidbits to Starlog magazine.
I would hope that I could get Joe Johnston to direct this one, too, but it's up to him, he said. I'll certainly offer it to Joe before I offer it to anyone else. We actually have a wonderful story that I think is the best story since the very first movie. In fact, I wish it were the third story instead of the fourth one. It came late, but it is actually the best story I've heard for a dinosaur movie since the Michael Crichton book. And I'm not going to tell you anything about it. My lips are sealed. Two years passed, though, and the film never came to be.
Costa Rica's Jurassic Park 4
In 2003, Dark Horizons reported on a new script, revealing that Jurassic Park 4 would partly take place on mainland Costa Rica, instead of the islands explored in the first three films.
According to DH, the film would be set 12 years after the first movie, when John Hammond's dinosaurs have apparently become urban legend. After a number of deaths on mainland Costa Rica, a team head to one of the off-shore islands to investigate and discover that dinosaurs are thriving and breeding at an uncontrollable rate, so much so that it poses a threat to the nearby continent. They must find a way to curb the spread of the dinos or face an ecological disaster.
The film would have seen the return of Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), though a director was yet to sign up.
Keira Knightley's Jurassic Park 4
With the Costa Rica script abandoned, Sci Fi Wire reported in July 2003 that William Monahan had written a first draft of a script that producer Kathleen Kennedy was excited about. Let's just say it takes place someplace else, she said. It will not be green. We will not go back to the jungle.
Meanwhile, Keira Knightley revealed to Box Office magazine that she'd met with Spielberg about playing the granddaughter of John Hammond in the film. It's true! I didn't think anybody knew about that! she said. It was so amazing because I've been a big fan of the original film for years. Steven said he liked my work in Bend It Like Beckham and wanted to meet me. I think Sam Neill really pushed for me as well, 'cause we had worked together before on [BBC TV series] Doctor Zhivago.
She added: There were actually two roles in Jurassic Park 4 Steven thought I might fit. First there was the granddaughter part, which wasn't all that big a role, she was only in it at the beginning. The other part he was considering for me was substantially larger, but I won't go into any details in case I make Steven angry (laughs).
Her character ended up being written out.
Alex Proyas's Jurassic Park 4
In March 2004, Johnston told JoBlo: I know that theres a story now thats being written that takes the franchise in a completely different direction away from the island and away from the T-Rex and all this. Its a great story, and I sort of hope Spielberg will direct it.
This version apparently saw the return of the Spinosaurus, while most of the dinosaurs in the film were expected to be marine reptiles.
With Alex Proyas (The Crow) apparently on board to direct, and Frank Marshall working on a script rewrite with John Sayles, filming was expected to start at Pinewood in March 2005, with Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough returning (but not Sam Neill). In July 2004, though, Proyas revealed he wouldn't be directing. I am very uninterested in doing Jurassic Park 4, he told The Sunday Herald Sun. Oh dear.
Nick Harris' Jurassic Park 4
Never heard of Nick Harris? Don't worry, he's actually a character from a script leaked in August 2004. Written by John Sayles, the story revolves around a new character called Nick Harris, a mercenary who works with five genetically modified Deinonychus during rescue missions when he's hired by a Swiss corporation.
With David Boreanaz rumoured for the role, John Hammond would have been the only character returning from previous films.
It turned out Boreanaz was actually in consideration for Fantastic Four, not JP4, and after another redraft that weirdly spliced human and dino DNA to create human-dinosaur mercenaries (yes really), John Sayles' script was dumped entirely. Not surprising.
Those were the films that almost came to be (and we're sure there plenty of other story ideas that never made it beyond the board room), but with Jurassic World, director Colin Trevorrow seems to have trumped them all. Set 20 years after the first film, it sees a new dino park opening in Isla Nublar yep, it's time for Jurassic World.
The new park's prize is a genetically modified dinosaur, but it's only a matter of time before she gets out, right? Leave it to Velociraptor expert Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to make sure that doesn't happen. Check out our Jurassic World review here.