It costs a lot of money to bring dinosaurs back to life. From crafting the digital and practical effects that make their claws, teeth, and scaly hides believable to hiring the actors capable of reacting to green screens and puppets with professionally feigned terror, vast sums have gone into making the five Jurassic Park/World movies to date.
It’s a bit surprising, then, that none of the movies tops the list of “most expensive Jurassic Park project of all time.” Despite the films’ multimillion dollar budgets, it turns out that the most expensive of all, adjusted for inflation, is that soon-to-be-extinct Universal Studios theme park ride where people get splashed by dead-eyed robot monsters.
Over at Cracked, JM McNab chronicled the wild financial and creative excess that went into making Jurassic Park: The Ride. Pointing out that it cost $110 million in early-’90s dollars—an inflation calculator using the first movie’s 1993 release as a baseline puts that at roughly $191 million, more expensive than Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom—McNab goes on to detail why, exactly, investors were so down to throw more money into an amusement park ride than the first movie itself.
Most interesting is that the article references Jurassic Park and Lost World director Steven Spielberg himself stating that he had ideas for the attraction (and work was already underway) before the movie was even shooting. This makes sense, as McNab describes Spielberg’s non-movie-making gig as a creative consultant for Universal Studios—a very well-paid position he’s held since the ‘80s.
This partially explains why the ride features a rafting theme that doesn’t actually show up in the first movie (it was cut, but had already been storyboarded). The rest of the money went to lots and lots and lots of marketing, all of which culminated in an opening ceremony and related TV specials that included appearances by everyone from Jeff Goldblum to David Hasselhoff and, for whatever reason, a Gulf War military commander.
Given that all of this stems from Michael Crichton’s 1990 book, which, like the movie, revolves around a theme park gone awry, it makes a certain amount of sense that the most money spent on a Jurassic Park project isn’t a movie, but a really expensive ride. With Crichton’s theme park fiction as precedent, we suppose the next step is obvious: dwarf the budget of the Westworld seasons to date with an HBO theme park where visitors tour through a dusty, 19th century town, watching as androids approach to either cry over their lost memories or attempt to disembowel them for the sin of creating synthetic life.
You can ride the whole thing, kind of, via YouTube:
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