It was clear that Universal wanted to talk about doing a sequel in the record-setting period following the release of the original film. (With worldwide ticket sales of more than $916 million, Jurassic Park continued to break records when it was released on home video, where it holds the title of top-selling live-action motion picture of all-time.) The filmmakers had discussions amongst themselves and with Michael Crichton.
While there was interest in a sequel, there was no guarantee that Crichton was going to write another book. Determining a schedule for a second Jurassic Park film was dependent on whether Crichton would proceed.
Meanwhile, Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp were already talking. Yes, the director confirmed, there would be interest in an encore, if there was a good story to be told.
In those heady months after the release of Jurassic Park, when the question of whether dinosaurs could be made real was answered with a resounding affirmative, there was a new question. "Sure you can do dinosaurs, but what can you do with them?," Koepp remembers thinking.
So began the dialogue between the filmmaker and the screenwriter, who were getting together from time to time to just bounce ideas off one another, recalls Koepp.
Word that Crichton was working on the manuscript for his follow-up novel only served to sharpen Koepp and Spielberg's wild imaginations. "We'd throw ideas at one another and see what kind of reaction it provoked," recounts Koepp. "Suddenly I'd say something and that made him think of something that made me think of something. It just feeds in that way."
Spielberg would go off from these brainstorming sessions and storyboard the ideas. "Steven's got such a wonderful, fertile mind, especially for these sorts of adventure sequences and action sequences," says Koepp. His challenge as a writer was to figure out how to incorporate what he describes as "these fantastic sequences" into the loose structure of a movie that he had in mind and then integrate them with Crichton's work.
"In an interesting way, this is a lot like the way animation works where you start with a visual idea and then, in a very logical way, craft the story," observes executive producer Kathleen Kennedy. "Our story was very dependent on the visual imagery."
"When you have Michael Crichton and the book, you are already in very good shape," says Kennedy. "Add to that the combined imagination of Spielberg and Koepp and you have the basis for a very exciting film."
One of the challenges in approaching The Lost World was the audience's own enormous expectations. As Koepp observes, "audiences tend to feel pretty proprietary about it. Everybody has their own ideas about what should happen in a sequel."
Fortunately, Spielberg has never forgotten his own experiences at the movies going back to his boyhood days when his father took him to see Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth. He was amazed by the power of the cinematic experience and soon started to make movies with friends and members of his family. "The audience comes first," says Spielberg. "I really think of the audience when I think of a Jurassic Park or a Lost World or the entire Indiana Jones series. A lot of this movie was made for what I hope is the pure pleasure of an audience."
The result is a movie that is both similar and different - an intense, visually stunning adventure that pushes the limits of imagination and technology.
Audiences will embark on this new adventure with a familiar face as their guide. "I cast Jeff Goldblum again because he is Ian Malcolm," says Spielberg. "There is no Ian Malcolm except as played by Jeff." This time, Dr. Malcolm is the anchor for the story. "In the first film, Malcolm was along for the ride and he was kind of a critic," Spielberg continues. "In this sense, he's leading the journey in The Lost World. He has a very strong motivation for returning."
Jurassic Park ushered in a new era of visual effects, brilliant computer-generated images (CGI) blended seamlessly with the state-of-the-art mechanical and animatronic special effects. The combination gave life to creatures believed to be extinct for 65 million years. "I think that people were a little bit amazed that the dinosaurs looked as real as they did," says Spielberg.
But whereas moviegoers in the summer of 1993 were awestruck by the on-screen digital recreations, audiences today will come to the theaters expecting to see nothing less than living, breathing dinosaurs.
"With the first movie, we had no idea how we would make the dinosaurs real," admits Kennedy. "With the sequel, we had a very clear idea of the visual effects and were very comfortable with the technology for computer graphics. So for The Lost World, we were able to focus on the storytelling."