Why 'Jurassic World' Could Reclaim June's Box Office Record for the Dino Franchise

on June 09, 2015

jurassicworld.pngBy Shawn Robbins

It's a truism that franchises routinely fatigue themselves out of a good thing. Rules are made to broken though, and the hotly anticipated Jurassic World is almost here with buzz at a fever pitch the likes of which the franchise hasn't seen in nearly two decades.

To be fair, "fatigue" isn't a term that applies to the Jurassic Park series anymore. After two sequels met with lukewarm reception, the series has lain dormant for 14 years -- albeit, not without efforts to revive it several times.

The Jurassic Story So Far...

Steven Spielberg's original 1993 box office juggernaut, adapted from the late Michael Crichton's best-selling novel, famously revolutionized visual effects for its time and won over audiences' sense of wonder with memorable characters and the most realistic on-screen dinosaurs ever seen at that point.

The original Park was a rare entity of a non-sequel in those days, generating both massive upfront demand and impressive staying power. Its former June opening weekend record of $47 million ($50.2 million when counting Thursday night premiere shows) was also the all-time record until Batman Forever bested it two years later. After spending nearly four months in the top ten and earning $357 million at the domestic box office, Jurassic Park became the second highest-grossing movie in history -- giving Sir Steven, whose E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial still owned first place, a monopoly on the top two spots.

Globally, a decade-and-a-half before modern international expansion, Jurassic Park was the first movie to ever topple the $800 million mark.

Four years later, The Lost World: Jurassic Park claimed the biggest opening weekend in history at $72.1 million (a title it held longer than any other movie), but the film didn't live up to most fans' expectations and closed out with $229 million stateside/$619 million worldwide. Its successor, Jurassic Park III, came another four years later with an $81.4 million five-day launch before topping out at $181 million/$369 million.

And then... nothing else. The franchise stalled until the first film's 20th anniversary 3D re-release stomped out a solid $118 million global run.

Reviving an Icon

A few comparisons can be drawn between Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones, another seminal Spielberg series. The latter's first entry, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was a mega blockbuster preceding two sequels before the franchise was given a 19-year cinematic break. Unlike Indy, however, the Jurassic "trilogy" wasn't able to go out on a high note -- otherwise, we'd have seen a fourth Jurassic Park movie long before now. Instead, Spielberg and long-time collaborating producer Frank Marshall oversaw a few false starts and waited things out.

With Jurassic World, the talented up-and-coming co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) was given the reins. World also boasts the franchise's biggest star-of-the-moment yet in Chris Pratt (no offense to the incomparable Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill). Hot off the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, The LEGO Movie, TV's Parks and Recreation, and numerous media-friendly gags and appearances, Pratt is an undeniable draw for moviegoers to see Jurassic World this weekend. Incidentally, he's rumored to be the leading candidate for the aforementioned Indy franchise's eventual reboot.

A driving factor perhaps just as strong as Pratt is 90s nostalgia. For those of us who remember seeing the original film in theaters, it's a bit surreal to think of so much time having passed, but a new crop of young moviegoers has emerged over the last 22 years. One key factor for World is getting that crowd to show up (something which dino mayhem and Pratt's all-age-friendly charisma will help with), and doing so in tandem with their parents (or grandparents, even) could make for a very crowded weekend ahead.

Box Office Outlook

The June box office title currently belongs to Man of Steel, which opened to a stellar $117 million (not counting $12.1 million from Thursday night Walmart pre-sales) two years ago. On the social media front, Jurassic World has far out-paced last year's Godzilla ($93 million) by all measures, is second only to Avengers: Age of Ultron in week-of-release Twitter mentions for 2015 flicks, and isn't far behind Furious 7's Flixster audience anticipation numbers.

The strong buzz for Jurassic World suggests it should at least become the month's fifth-ever $100 million+ June opener, and it even has a shot at reaching/surpassing The Lost World's inflation-adjusted $128 million three-day Memorial Weekend debut in 1997. 

Unfortunately, the film's review embargo hadn't been lifted at the time of this article's publishing, so it's difficult to tell exactly what to expect for the long-term potential of a film anticipated by fans for many years. The best glimpse of hope comes from scattered Twitter reports suggesting this might be a worthy Jurassic sequel, but time will tell. If it can make a run toward $275-300 million in North America, it's not a stretch of the imagination to see World taking a crack at the $1 billion global mark considering strong anticipation in overseas territories like China.

Regardless, much like the generational appeal which drove revivals of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Toy Story, Jurassic World comes long enough after its predecessors to benefit from the feeling of having a clean slate. And that's exactly what the franchise has needed.

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The Jurassic Park Franchise at the Box Office:

Jurassic Park (excluding 2013 re-release)
Opening: $47 million
Opening Adjusted for 2015 Ticket Prices: $92 million
Domestic: $357 million
Domestic Adjusted for 2015 Ticket Prices: $700 million
Overseas: $485 million

The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Opening: $72 million
Opening Adjusted: $128 million
Domestic: $229 million
Domestic Adjusted: $405 million
Overseas: $390 million

Jurassic Park III
Opening: $51 million (3-day) / $81 million (5-day)
Opening Adjusted: $83 million (3-day) / $117 million (5-day)
Domestic: $181 million
Domestic Adjusted: $260 million
Overseas: $188 million

Jurassic Park 3D
2013 Domestic: $45 million
Overseas: $73 million

Tags: north-america, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Universal, Jurassic Park III, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Colin Trevorrow, Frank Marshall, Steven Spielberg, Chris Pratt, Jurassic Park, Jurassic World

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